Healthy Baby Necessities On the Go

Erica Harris
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Erica Harris

Location: Los Angeles

Impact: Giving parents access to healthy necessities for their children

Erica Harris never thought much about the environment or about eating healthy until she arrived on the UC Davis campus.

“It opened my world,” said Harris, who went on to graduate in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in a surprising field: clinical nutrition.

The campus’s focus on sustainability and her studies in nutrition gave her the foundation to pursue her passion: giving parents an easy and convenient way to provide healthy food and necessities for their children.

She is the CEO and founder of Happy Baby Vending Inc., an eco-friendly company headquartered in Altadena, Calif., that sells healthy and organic snacks, diapers and other products through vending machines, online and other distribution channels.

The idea for the vending machines came after Harris attended a competition where a mother needing a diaper for her baby scrambled to find one from the other women there. Happy Baby vending machines are now located in Southern California with plans to expand nationwide.

Leslie Butler, a lecturer in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, encouraged Harris to participate in the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy.

At the academy, she learned about the UC Davis Graduate School of Management’s Big Bang! Business Competition, which helps entrepreneurs establish successful businesses. She won second prize and $4,500 in seed money in the 2012 competition.

“It gave me the confidence that I was on the right track,” she said.

Harris credits Vita Cooper, her undergraduate adviser in the nutrition department, for providing the support to pursue her dream.

“I wasn’t just a number. I was a person,” she said.