Introducing Sharon, the Founder and CEO of Charlie’s Safe Treat Box, a mum to Charlie, Arnold and Evelyn. Sharon became an official allergy mum after Charlie had his first allergic reaction and was diagnosed with multiple life-threatening food allergies in 2012. Before becoming an allergy mum, she was a Practicing Accountant (CPA), held a Certificate in Team Leader Training, a Certificate IV in Frontline Management, and worked in both the health and travel industries. This new ‘allergy mum’ role and responsibility quickly became a full-time role for Sharon and one that she became passionate about. She was forced to research and learn about it through her own personal experience and via people in the brave and supportive allergy communities around Australia and the globe. Her family’s allergy journey led them to relocate to the USA for 9 months in 2017 to allow Charlie to go through treatment for his multiple food allergies called OIT or Oral Immunotherapy, which is not currently offered in Australia. During this time, she met and connected with more allergy families from around the world, all trying to make life safer for their food-allergy children. Upon her return from the USA in mid-2018, the idea for ‘Charlie’s Safe Treat Box’ became clearer after initially conceiving the idea after an anaphylactic reaction that landed Charlie in the hospital in 2014. Sharon started to take steps towards creating and building the business. Due to covid delays and having to pivot from the original plan, Charlie’s Safe Treat Box finally launched its e-commerce website in 2022 with mindfulness colour-me-in boxes filled with the top 10 allergen-free treats for people of all ages. Charlie’s Safe Treat Box has been created to provide a safe space for people living with life-threatening food allergies to source safe treats with freedom and ease. Sharon is an active participant and contributor to many allergy communities in Australia and the globe. She enjoys connecting with other allergy families to share stories, knowledge, education and awareness about the challenges of food allergy life. Together, as a community, we can make our world safer and more inclusive for individuals and families affected by food allergies.
Sharon’s unwavering dedication to providing a safe space for allergy-friendly treats has resonated deeply within the allergy community. In our continued conversation with Sharon, we delve into the challenges she has faced as a business owner and the unique considerations she makes to cater to various allergies and dietary restrictions.
One of the significant challenges Sharon encountered was the need to acquire new technology skills while balancing the responsibilities of being a stay-at-home allergy mum. The delicate act of managing three children, coping with the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns, and building a business demanded immense dedication. Sharon emphasises that many allergy mums face similar struggles, often sacrificing their careers to care for their allergy-affected child—a facet that is frequently overlooked or insufficiently discussed.
In the allergy-friendly industry, being a woman entrepreneur has not provided explicit advantages for Sharon at this stage. However, her firsthand experience as an allergy mum allows her to establish connections more readily with others in the allergy community. Through Charlie’s Safe Treat Box’s social media platforms, Sharon shares her own allergy journey, daily experiences, recipes, and educational content, successfully forging connections with numerous allergy mums who appreciate the shared experiences.
When it comes to catering to different allergies and dietary restrictions, Sharon primarily focuses on the top 10 allergens. Remarkably, she has observed that most approved products also tend to be gluten-free and vegan-friendly, appealing to a broader audience. To address inquiries from customers with allergies beyond the top 10, Sharon and her team proactively reach out to manufacturers to verify the safety of specific products.
Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with customers applauding the value for money and the opportunity to explore new safe treats via Charlie’s Safe Treat Box’s rigorous product approval process. Intriguingly, even family members without allergies have found the treats delightful, underscoring the universal appeal of allergy-friendly products.
Looking to the future, Sharon has plans to expand the range of products offered beyond treats. Currently, she is actively developing non-food items that are needed and would be valued within the allergy community. Additionally, she is considering implementing a membership option to provide tailored support specifically for allergy mums who have lost themselves in this all-consuming role.
Sourcing suppliers for allergy-friendly treat boxes has been an intricate process for Charlie’s Safe Treat Box. Sharon and her team engage in direct communication with manufacturers, employing an extensive approval process. It is disheartening to witness certain companies declining participation despite marketing themselves as allergy-friendly, highlighting the pressing need for greater transparency and accountability within the industry.
To maintain a competitive edge, Charlie’s Safe Treat Box endeavours to create a distinct niche within the allergy-friendly industry. Their emphasis lies in providing a secure environment for individuals to easily access the best top 10 allergen-free treats. Sharon also places great importance on fostering community support, facilitating communication, and fostering connections within the allergy community, continually striving to enhance their offerings.
The most heartwarming experiences for Sharon revolve around witnessing children’s reactions upon receiving and opening a Charlie’s Safe Treat Box. The sheer joy and confidence it brings these children, knowing they can safely enjoy everything inside, is truly gratifying. The treat box has evolved into a cherished haven where allergy-affected children feel seen, heard, and valued.
In terms of sustainability and environmentally friendly practices, Charlie’s Safe Treat Box actively encourages customers to reuse mindfulness colouring boxes. These boxes can be repurposed for storing safe treats or children’s safe craft supplies for example. Furthermore, the business stocks some products transitioning to, or already using, compostable packaging, further reinforcing its commitment to sustainability.
Packaging and shipping have presented their own unique set of challenges for Charlie’s Safe Treat Box. To ensure efficiency, the company prioritises the use of an Australian-based packaging and logistics provider, ensuring reliable and timely delivery of their products.
With Sharon’s unwavering dedication, Charlie’s Safe Treat Box continues to flourish, serving as a beacon of hope and inclusivity for individuals with dietary restrictions. Through her business, she is not only transforming the lives of allergy-affected individuals but also creating a supportive community where every individual feels valued and understood. So follow along on her journey on Instagram, and if you know an allergy-affected family or individual share Charlie’s Safe Treat Box with them.