Jess Thomas was looking for an escape from the ‘corporate world’ when a home-made snack shared with co-workers inspired her to start her own business.
In 2014, the Melburnian was working at a massive Australian retail group, having built a career in marketing. But the 31-year-old was getting tired of endless meetings and found her passion for the work drying up.
So when a batch of protein balls she shared with her colleagues was "demolished" in minutes, Jess knew she was on to something.
Within weeks the young entrepreneur had started creating batches of guilt-free balls to sell to cafes, enlisting help from family and friend to deliver to her health-conscious customers.
"I could see things were taking off," Jess said, as she juggled full-time work and the side-project she hoped could become something more.
So in January 2015 Jess resigned her full-time job, risking her "safe financial position" to put all her time and energy into Health Lab.
Creating a mum-friendly workplace... with no set hours.
Within months the business had grown and Jess was able to put on more staff, eventually building her team up to nine - outsourcing the production to a company in Melbourne and keeping the marketing and strategy in-house.
For Jess, starting her own business didn't just mean creating a product she was proud of, but building a workplace culture she was happy with.
"We are 90 per cent women. The only man on the team is my husband."