Celebrating Women Food Entrepreneurs

Celebrating_Women_Food_Entrepreneurs

WFIM presented a panel of four courageous women who are tackling the monumental task of running a food business. During an evening of networking and product sampling, we learned about their experiences, challenges and successes in building their food brands.

Our Panelists:

Carolyn Plummer, Founder and Co-owner of Grass Roots Kitchen and the Energy Spheres brand.
CEnergy_Spheres_logoarolyn is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner (CNP). She turned her passion for crafting healthy, allergy-friendly snacks for loved ones with food allergies and intolerances into a commercial business. As a proud mom and advocate to two teenage boys with autism spectrum disorder, Grass Roots Kitchen mentors and creates employment opportunities for young adults with autism. Carolyn lives in Toronto with her partner in life and business, her boys and two rather large house cats.

 

 

 

Carrie Darmaga, founder and CEO of Health Addict Inc., and owner of the Fru-V® brand.

Fru-V_logoThrough her career journey as a Child and Youth Counsellor and a Registered Massage Therapist, Fru-V® was born. After starting the breakfast club at Rogers Public School, Carrie finally took the plunge to start this new business as a way to give back to the community. Launching Fru-V® smoothie kits in Longo’s and Vince’s Market, Carrie is giving a portion of the proceeds to the Breakfast Club of Canada.

 

Amal Soliman, Founder and Owner of Nubia Food and Beverage Inc. and Nuba Tisane.
Amal Nuba_logogrew up drinking hibiscus tea in her home country of Egypt and saw an opportunity to reinvent the beverage for the Canadian market. With a Ph.D. in Agriculture Sciences and background in food processing, Amal founded Nubia and makes Nuba Tisane with premium quality dried hibiscus flowers she imports from Egypt.

 

 

Simi Kular, Co-Owner of Jaswant’s Kitchen.

JasJaswants_Kitchen_logowant’s Kitchen produces all natural Indian spice blends. They are are all hand-crafted and produced in Canada. We source great quality whole and ground spices. The whole spices are inspected, sifted, dry-roasted and then ground. We then blend the various ground spices together in the right proportions to make the Jaswant’s Kitchen signature spice blends.

 

 

 

Our Moderator:

 

Birgit Blain, President, Birgit Blain & Associates Inc.

Birgit_Blain_logo

As founder and president of a packaged foods consulting firm, Birgit Blain and her team transform food into retail-ready products. Her experience includes 17 years with Loblaw Companies, where she managed a $9 million President’s Choice® portfolio. Birgit also writes for Food in Canada magazine and is the author of The Food Biz Blog. Through her depth of food industry knowledge, Birgit helps food business owners think strategically, make better decisions and mitigate risks.

 

 

Some people start a food business because of their love of food, the drive to help others, or for the money (lots of laughs from both the panel and the audience on that reason). Why did our panelists start up?   Jaswant’s Kitchen was founded to teach Simi how to cook authentic Indian cuisine;  Simi wants to inspire people to cook. Sharing a piece of her home with her neighbours inspired Amal to share her product with everyone. Carolyn was baking, and putting everything into chocolate to get her kids to eat; as a holistic nutritionist, her goal is to help people with autism through her business. Carrie was looking for a product that wasn’t on the market, and decided to create it herself.

What challenges do the entrepreneurs face?  Carrie had no connections in the food industry, and had to learn everything from scratch.   Finding a co-packer was a challenge for Amal, so she started production herself.  Simi’s challenge was maintaining product quality, so Jaswant’s Kitchen also produces on their own at FoodStarter. Carolyn struggled with finding the right packaging to increase the shelf life of her product.

Wins keep us motivated. Carolyln’s big win was having Whole Foods find her product at a market. She wasn’t present that day, and the teenager managing her booth didn’t think to get the person’s business card, so she was thankful that he made the call to her! Entrepreneurs can be very hard on themselves, so Carrie knows the importance of celebrating at each step. A win for Amal is that hibiscus is a top trend for 2018.

When asked would they do it again? Carrie commented that “ignorance is bliss” (but she didn’t say no!). Carolyn would do it differently, with a lot more money.

Here’s some advice from these entrepreneurs, if you’re thinking of throwing your hat into the food processing arena:
Simi – always be innovating; be willing to trust & let go (delegate & build a good team) Carolyn – manage your life
Amal – believe in your product; don’t take it personally.
Carrie – you don’t have to do it all now
Birgit – have a business plan, and don’t quit your day job!

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Networking Skills Development

[net-wur-king]

noun
A supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest

verb (used without object)
To cultivate people who can be helpful to one professionally, especially in finding employment or moving to a higher position

networking_infographic

 

1. Be prepared

Ask yourself what your goals are in participating in networking meetings.

Have a 30 second “elevator” speech to introduce yourself that you know inside and out.
The most important part of the introduction beside your name and possibly your title/area of interest in business, etc. (the first sentence) is the second sentence which is reflected to “what makes you memorable/what is the one thing you want to be known for”. This will help the person you are networking remember you and increases the possibility that they could help you in the near future if an opportunity arises.

Hello, my name is XXXX, and I am an experienced XXXXX (insert your area(s) of expertise such as product developer, account manager, etc. and any positions on volunteer boards you may hold). I am best known for XXXXX ( Insert one statement about what you stand for (if you can) or what your (work/life/career) passion is. As a result, I am currently looking for XXXXX (whatever you would like to achieve such as networking goal for the event).

Be able to articulate what you are looking for, and how others may help you. Too often people in conversations ask, “How may I help you?” and no immediate answer comes to mind. Also remember that the people in the room may not be the people who can help you, but they may know people to introduce you to that could be of assistance.

Research the topic of the meeting/presentation so that you can carry on a conversation about it, how it affects you/your business etc. It can be an ice breaker to get the networking conversation started.

Body language counts: Smile, look people in the eyes. Have a firm handshake. Stand/sit tall.

2. During Networking events

Keep in mind that networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others.

Sit with people you don’t know. When you sit with people you do not know you are forced to meet people and focus on the topic. Try to join a group of people that also look like they don’t know each other. Groups from the same company etc. may be more focussed on their own needs than networking with others.

Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.

Have lots of business cards available to hand out. At an event, have one pocket filled with your own business cards and the other pocket empty to put new cards into.

Become known as a resource for others. When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them.

Be ready to introduce people to others that may be able to help them.

3. After the event

Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow.

Call those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, and ask if you could get together and share ideas.

Do it all again: To network successfully, takes practice.

 

Contributors: Sanja Kivac, Jane Mangat, Tina Parise, Barbara Onyskow, Carol Zweig, Donna Messor
“10 Tips for Successful Business Networking” by Stephanie Speisman (www.businessknowhow.com)

 

 

 

Exclusive offer: Make sure your Food Safety is Tip Top for 2016

Transform Your Food Safety Processes. Protect Your Customers & Your Brand.

 

We’ve partnered with the 12th Annual North American Summit on Food Safety April 20-21, 2016 in Toronto, to bring you this exclusive offer:

WFIM Members Receive 20% Off Registration using VIP Code: WFIM20

 

Food Safety Leaders from across North America are joining together to tackle safety & quality issues in the food industry. Make sure you have the latest information on SFCA and FSMA to ensure the best safety practices possible. Prevent food-borne illnesses and product contamination that can destroy your reputation.

 

What’s new this year:

  • Successfully manage Food Safety in Complex Global Supply Chains.
  • Discover how Safe Food Canada is modernizing how we learn about Food Safety.
  • Find out how small & medium suppliers can get accreditation for Food Safety.
  • Assess what you can learn from how natural foods avoid contamination.
  • More Interactive Sessions than ever before!4 Interactive Sessions | 7 Case Studies | 9+ Networking Hours| 11+ Elite Speakers

Featured Speakers:

  • Karen Mills, Director Quality Assurance, High Liner Foods
  • Katherine Di Tommaso, Director Food Safety & Quality Assurance, Wal-Mart Canada
  • Jay Shirdoker, Senior Quality Assurance, Loblaw Companies Ltd.

 

To Register:

Visit: www.FoodSafetyCanada.com

Email: registrations@strategyinstitute.com

Phone: 1-866-298-9343 x 200

Remember to use promo code WFIM20 when registering!

 

Instructions to Register for WFIM Events

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WFIM has moved its event registrations to a new platform inside our Member Portal.   The registration process is a little different now, and there are a lot of self-serve features that we didn’t have before.  Once you are familiar with the registration process, it will seem as easy as pie!

If, after reading through the attached instructions, you still have difficulty, please use the Inquiry system to contact us (on the very top menu bar, to the left of your name).  Or, e-mail us at admin@wfim.ca

Click here for Event Registration Instructions!

WFIM’s Annual Leadership Academy: Meet our Leaders!

Leadership_Compass

Women in Food Industry Management (WFIM) presents:

Leadership Academy Round Table

November 3, 2015 from 6:30 to 9:00 am

Toronto International Centre, 6900 Airport Road

WFIM Members $55 + HST / Non-members $70 + HST (includes breakfast)

Join us for breakfast and three inspiring round table sessions.  Get up close and personal while you learn from and network with accomplished food industry executives!  Select a leader for each round table session:  7:30, 8:00, and 8:30 am.

REGISTER

Meet this year’s Academy Leaders:

Dana McCauley – Executive Director, Food Starter

Dana McCauley is the Executive Director for Food Starter, a new food business incubator and accelerator, located in Toronto.  Dana is a seasoned marketing executive with extensive experience in all facets of the food business and a track record of taking ideas from concept to kitchen to commercialization.  Dana held the position of Vice President of Marketing for Plats du Chef, an internationally successful frozen foods company, until January 2015.  She was also an on-air judge for seasons one and two of Canadian reality TV show Recipe to Riches and continues to contribute frequently as an expert food trend and innovation source for the media.  Dan’s most recent media project is YouTube channel Food Trends TV where she shares industry insights in a video format.  Dana has authored four cookbooks, all published by top tier publishers, which have sold over 200,000 copies worldwide.

Mary Dalimonte – VP Merchandising, Sobeys Inc.

Mary Dalimonte joined Sobeys in February 2008 as the General Manager of Sobeys Urban Fresh.  With over 35+ years experience in the grocery retail industry, Ms. Dalimonte was responsible for stewarding Sobeys Urban Fresh operations, merchandising and marketing teams and fostering Sobeys Urban Fresh key external relationships.  In 2011 she was appointed to Vice President of Private Label and in November of 2012, promoted to Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Commercial Programs for Sobeys Inc., leading the strategic plans and driving the development and execution of customer driven, market leading innovations for Full Service Formats across Canada.

With a bachelor of arts in sociology from York University, Ms. Dalimonte began her career in the grocery retail industry with Loblaws Supermarkets Ltd.

Ms. Dalimonte was recently recognized and awarded ‘Top Women in Grocery’ in North America.

Winnie Chiu – Director, Food Innovation & Research Studio

Winnie Chiu, Director of the Food innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt) at George Brown College in Toronto, is a food scientist and brings with her over 22 years of food product development and commercialization experience in both consumer packaged foods and the flavor ingredient business.

Since joining George Brown College, Winnie has led over 30 applied research projects and successfully helped food companies and healthcare sector partners develop and commercialize food products and recipes, while providing culinary students real life, real time experience in innovative learning.

Prior to George Brown, Winnie worked for Effem Inc. (a division of MARS Inc.) as product development manager. She led a team of scientists and technologists to develop products for North America and Australia for Uncle Ben’s®, Seeds of Change® and Masterfoodservice® brands. She also held various product development roles with two globally renowned flavour ingredient companies.

Winnie received a B.Sc. (Hon) from the University of Westminster, U.K. and subsequently gained her M.Sc. in Food and Management Science from King’s College, the University Of London, U.K.

Helen Langford – VP Foodservices, Boston Pizza

As the Senior Vice President of Foodservices for Boston Pizza, Helen Langford is responsible for leading the culinary and menu development, purchasing, supply chain and restaurant design. Prior to joining Boston Pizza, she held various roles within the foodservice industry in quality assurance, product development and supply chain. She has a passion for inspirational leadership and is an advocate for women leaders in this industry. She firmly believes in the power of people, the strength of teamwork and that hard work and perseverance are the enablers to meet any goal, no matter how difficult.

Christine Raptopulos, Senior Director Supply Chain Canada, Conagra

Christine Raptopulos joined ConAgra Foods in 2008 and has progressively transformed supply chain performance. In her current role, she leads Supply Chain functions in Canada including Logistics, Demand and Supply Planning and Customer Supply Chain.

ConAgra Foods is one of North America’s largest packaged food companies. Its balanced portfolio includes consumer brands found in 99 percent of American households. It is also the largest private brand packaged food business in North America and has a strong commercial and foodservice business.

Prior to joining ConAgra, Christine spent 14 years at Nestle SA working both locally and internationally as the Global Business Excellence Leader for Zone Americas (United States of America, Canada, Latin America, Caribbean) focused on Supply Chain optimization and best practice implementations.

Christine holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Lakehead University.

Jill Baxter, Co-Founder / VP / VP Operations, N2 Ingredients Inc.

Jill is co-founder and Vice President of N2 Ingredients Inc., based in Mississauga, ON. N2 is a dynamic company that was founded in 2004. N2 are leaders in the importation and supply of organic and all natural ingredients to the Canadian food processing industry. Jill plays a hands-on role in managing the day-to-day operations of the organization by aligning and executing operational and strategic plans, while working with all members of the team. Evaluating systems, processes and recommendations for continuous improvements for the organization are her areas of responsibility.

N2 Ingredients has come a long way since inception, being named as one of Canada’s fastest growing companies on four separate occasions.

Kim Vogel, President, Spyder Works Inc.

Kim Vogel is an established leader of business strategy and corporate culture development. With more than 20 years of strategic management experience in HR and Operations including seven years at the executive level, Kim has excelled in both consulting and corporate capacities. Her credentials include maximizing organizational performance, driving cultural change and generating transformational results with national retail brands such as Tim Hortons, Winners, Grand & Toy, Sobeys and The Bargain! Shop. Through business strategy and corporate culture development, Kim shows companies how to transform themselves into cohesive, high performance cultures.

Kim has a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University and an HR Management degree from Humber College.

Angela Zaltsman, Owner, A to Z Event Management Inc.

Inspired by a lifetime of experience in the hospitality and event management industry, Angela Zaltsman is the driving force behind A to Z’s delivery of Extraordinary events from start to finish.

Angela has worked in a range of management roles at upscale restaurants, conference facilities and luxury hotels. She has planned and executed corporate events for some of North America’s most influential companies: American Express, BMO, Chanel, GlaxoSmithKline and KPMG, just to name a few. In addition to achieving excellence in the corporate sector, Angela has met rave reviews with lifestyle events for celebrities including Shania Twain, Lauren Holly, Dan Ayckroyd, Kiefer Sutherland and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With more than 20 years of experience in hospitality and event management; Ms. Zaltsman calls upon a rich network of relationships with suppliers and venues to deliver, throughout the Greater Toronto Area, Extraordinary events from start to finish.

REGISTER

The 6th Annual Food Regulatory & Quality Assurance Summit

For the past several years, we have enjoyed participating in the Strategy Institute’s Food Regulatory & Quality Assurance Summit.  Without a doubt, we are looking forward to another exciting session at this year’s Forum which is scheduled for November 17th and 18th, 2015 at the Sheraton Toronto Airport.

Year over year, this North American Summit brings together a wonderful collection of industry experts who candidly share the latest in legislation, trends, best practices, consumer expectations, emerging policies and compliances – anything and everything that affects your business from a Food Regulatory and Quality Assurance standpoint!

A favourite aspect of this two-day forum has always been, and continues to be, the ability to network with peers on issues of common interest around the subject at hand and for attendees to create enduring relationships, to learn from and appreciate our speaker perspectives and experiences, and to connect and explore the latest in testing, equipment or resources from exhibitors.

Please mark your calendar and join us for what promises to be another stellar opportunity to strengthen our knowledge and our connections at the 6th Annual North American Food Regulatory & Quality Assurance Summit in Toronto!

Topics, reports and best practices will include presentations on SFCA, FSMA, Consumer Demand, GMO, Natural Health Products, Recalls, Compliance Tools, Labelling, Imports and Exports and Packaging!  Sharing their experiences will be industry leaders from:

* Food Standards Scotland
* Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc.
* Mars Incorporated
* Piller’s Fine Foods
* Ganong Bros. Ltd.
* Health Canada
* Canada Agricultural Review Tribunal
* DOM International Limited
* Sixteen2 Inc.
* Sweets from the Earth
* Gourmet Inspirations
* Daiya Foods
* Thomas Utopia Brand
* Bessie’s Best Foods

Supplementing this awesome Summit will be three Post Conference Workshops:  Functional Foods, Allergens and Labelling.

Without a doubt, this Event presents participants with a wonderful opportunity to network with industry leaders, to share experiences and challenges with peers, and stay up to date with important industry developments that may affect your organization.

For more information on the 6th Annual Food Regulatory and Quality Assurance Summit, please feel free to contact the Strategy Institute at 1-866-298-9343 ext 200 (registrations@strategyinstitute.com) or Bren at 519-396-6521 (bdeleeuw@emccanada.org).

Website:  www.foodregulationcanada.com Follow on Twitter:  @FoodRegQA

On behalf of the Strategy Institute and WFIM, we sincerely hope that you are able to participate in this very special Summit and our WFIM volunteers look forward to welcoming you at our booth!  If you would like to learn more, please reach out to the Team at Strategy Institute – they would be delighted to hear from you.

Hope to see you on November 17th and 18th, 2015!

All my best,

Bren

Bren de Leeuw, Director – EMC Food, Beverage, Bio & Ag Program Canada
Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium – bdeleeuw@emccanada.org – 519-372-6009
WFIM – Past Board Member (Director of Events)

WFIM Supports New Food Talent

By Birgit Blain

Iana Mologuina is the recipient of the first annual Donna Messer Women in Food Industry Management Scholarship. Nancy Klassen, WFIM Chair, proudly awarded the scholarship saying “Iana has demonstrated academic merit, and a commitment to the food industry through her professional and volunteer experience.” Iana recently graduated from Ryerson University with a Bachelor in Applied Science in nutrition and food, after obtaining chef training at George Brown College, and plans to continue her studies to become a registered dietitian.

Women in Food Industry Management (WFIM) is dedicated to supporting professionals to become “The Best Women at the Table” by encouraging advancement through networking and professional development.

The WFIM scholarship recognizes the value of female students graduating from studies related to the food industry. It is also a tribute to the late Donna Messer, a founding member of WFIM, who coached scores of women to become better leaders through networking.

Learn about the benefits of WFIM membership at www.wfim.ca

 


As a packaged foods consultant specializing in strategy, brand and packaging development, Birgit Blain makes brands more saleable. Her experience includes 17 years with Loblaw Brands and President’s Choice®. Contact her at mailto:Birgit@BBandAssoc.com