Celebrating the Women of Switch
For International Women’s Day, we wanted to feature our women-owned/women-run suppliers and businesses! So, we reached out and asked if they have any favourite quotes, life philosophies, or any words of wisdom they lean on during tough times.
We know women have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and we want to hear their stories, live and breathe their words and lift them up.
We hope you get to know these incredibly hard-working and awe-inspiring women. We hope you find something in here that sticks with you and inspires you.
Abokichi’s Fumixer (Fumi) Tsukamoto and Jess Mantell - Co-Founders
“Create opportunities by yourselves and change yourself by the opportunities.”
I don’t know if it make sense in English, but it is like this in Japanese.
Since Fumi and Jess created Abokichi (and brought the unique umami tastes of Japan to Canada), these two have only continued pushing the boundaries of how exciting and accessible good food can be! Just last year, Abokichi: won the Gold Award in Condiments, Dressings and Marinades at the Specialty Food Association’s 2020 Sofi Awards (a.k.a. the Oscars of Artisanal Foods!) and pitched their OKAZU condiments line (the first of its kind in North America) on Dragon’s Den! SPOILER… They got a deal with Michele Romanow!
Bake In A Minute’s Myra Moyo - Founder, CEO
“I am always reflecting. Recently, it has been on saying Yes! to opportunities, to the unknown, to new opportunities. Saying Yes! to life.
Saying yes is difficult. To say yes means coming out of familiarity, what you know, your comfort zone. After all, it is easier to stay where you are most familiar. We believe we are protected in such environments, with its predictable comings and goings, we can, perhaps, control what happens.
The question is, what happens if we come out of this sameness? Out of this shelter of perceived protection? What more can we experience if we stepped into newness?
Stepping into unfamiliar territory can be scary and intimidating, but it can also be exciting and exhilarating. Saying yes opens you to new energy, new experiences and new knowledge.
A new life and a new you awaits by saying yes.
Myra has completely changed the game for so many people on a keto lifestyle, those who are grain-free, paleo, or have other dietary restrictions. Bake In A Minute is such a wonderful company because instead of focusing on the restrictions of specific lifestyles and diets, Myra runs her business with the principle of showing you a world of creativity in food even without the grains or carbs. Myra simply wanted to explore healthier alternatives for her family and was determined to find a solution - even better, she made one herself.
Eve’s Crackers’ Eve Laird - Founder, Co-Partner; and Sarah Cartwright - Co-Partner
“On days when things seem tough or aren't unfolding the way we had hoped, I like to map out the growth, opportunities and learnings we have made over the past year. I find this helps remind us that we are doing a great job in an industry we had no prior experience in, as well as reminds us to be proud and grateful for where we are with our small business today.”
Now a staple in many kitchen pantries, Eve’s Crackers started out in Eve’s very own kitchen as she simply wanted to experiment with accessible whole foods to heal her eczema. From quickly gaining attention and love at farmers’ markets to making their pitch on Dragon’s Den, Eve and Sarah continue to grow their business with the motivation of creating indulgent snack options for a diverse set of customers and lifestyles.
Fatso Peanut Butter’s Jill Van Gyn - Founder, CEO
“Comparison is the death of joy. Focus on and always reset to what you do well. Freely and without expectation share your strength and resources with your peers. And never feel guilty about self care.”
What self-care without a little (a lotta) Fatso? Jill founded Fatso back in 2016. Her appearance on Dragon’s Den shows you exactly how she sticks by her own advice - check it out and you’ll be left in awe at how much she grinded in the first few years of her business (as much in awe as the Dragons were when they taste-tested Fatso)! With a postgraduate degree in International Development, Jill has leveraged her business to support social justice causes (her first passion) like food and housing security, LGBTQ+ communities, Black Lives Matter, and First Nations communities.
Good Dee’s’ Deana Karim - Founder, CEO
“Always look ahead. It is easy to see who is behind you or next to you-but it will only slow you down. But when you look ahead and focus, you won’t care who your competition as you will be your own.”
Deana started Good Dee’s entirely out of her kitchen - creating the mixes (to this day, she still formulates all of your favourite Good Dee’s mixes herself!), fulfilling orders, marketing her products while raising two young kids. Deana’s focus on continuous improvement - listening to customers, developing new products and reformulating her mixes have led to: Good Dee’s hitting number one on Amazon, 100% ownership of her business, and her innovative products becoming a staple for our Customer Friends.
Jaswant’s Kitchen’s Jaswant (Jessie) Kular - Co-Founder
“How I run my life:
I am passionate about healthy food and wanted to pass my cultural heritage of Punjabi cuisine to the next generation, so it is not lost forever in my adopted country. I did not know I would be sharing it with everyone through our Mother daughter venture. I think it came about due to our passion for healthy food and the empowerment we felt as females to have a role in shaping the lifestyle of people. “Whatever comes naturally and makes you happy, is probably what is the eternal calling, a purpose of one’s life on earth.”
How I deal with tough moments:
I like to keep a positive attitude. I Just do my best and let life take its course. When going gets tough, I just take a deep breath and try not to lose perspective. There is always an opportunity in every tough situation. You just need to look for it. “If you believe in yourself and your passion, you can certainly find a path that takes you there. Life is to be lived and enjoyed. Nothing should stop you. Not even old age.””
Jessie’s iconic and tradition-inspired line of spice blends has made it so easy to make and enjoy Indian foods (when you use her spice blends, the dishes are so rich and fresh, it’s as if she made it herself in your kitchen!). She’s upheld her culture and has opened up that experience for all of us - thank you to Jessie’s daughters who kept calling their mom for her cooking after moving out and inspiring Jessie to start Jaswant’s Kitchen (who could blame them when their mom holds a Master’s in Nutrition?)!
JOI’s Isabelle (Izzy) Shu - Co-Founder, Chief of Brand; and Ali Alvarez - Director of Community
“I don't live by any inspirational quotes, but...
I find when the going gets tough, it always helps to break the problem or situation down into digestible pieces or easier to manage tasks. It'll make the overarching problem seem less overwhelming. It's easy for me to get stuck in my own head, so I find talking it through with someone I trust helps a lot (that's why your team is so important!) - they can offer a different perspective and act as a sounding board to potentially inspire new ideas.”
“"Self Delusion is the key to happiness" It was my father's favorite quote. It's always useful and always makes me laugh. Laughter is what gets me through pretty much anything.”
Since founding JOI in 2015 with fellow MBA students, Tony and Dave, Izzy and the JOI team including Ali, have innovated the nutmilk category. Food Network says it better than us "the jar of Joi is shelf-stable, even after opening. Almond lasts for 18 months in the pantry, and cashew for 12. Since the product can safely standby, fresh nut milk can be prepared in minutes whenever you need it." A simple, tasty, and insanely innovative product (and, of course, their equally innovative and funny social media posts). All in all, the JOI team is THE Dream Team - no wonder these two women emphasize teamwork and good vibes.
Keto Bars’ Molly Becker - Director
“1. Life’s easy if you work hard.
My all time favorite mantra. It’s really that simple. There are no short cuts, the work must be done: at work, with your relationships, at the gym, or even something as simple as brushing your teeth. Get up and do it or you’ll pay for it later. Once I accepted this, I embraced it.
2. Do it AFRAID.
Confidence is not something people are born with. Confidence is born out of courage. Having the courage to do the things that scare you- again and again and again. I am an anxious person, my brain tells me every day “I don’t know if you can do this.” - but if I want to achieve my goals I must do it, so I just do it afraid. And the more I do, the less afraid I am.
3. Always do your best.
If you’re always doing your best you can avoid self judgement, abuse or regret. Keep in mind that your best will change daily. If one day your best is to lay in bed and watch TV, then that’s your best! This life quote is self-motivating and self-forgiving. Both are so important!
Lastly, when the going gets tough I speak up. It took me a long time to ask for help. I used to view it as a sign of weakness but now I view it as a sign of strength. I also find peace, clarity and control with meditation and exercise.”
Molly brings her heart and soul to the Keto Bars team. Whether it's designing around the latest meme, responding with empathy to customer service, creating partnerships with other companies, launching new products (The Warm-ups are AMAZING y'all), Molly rolls up her sleeves to go wherever she is needed and puts in her all. Molly's mantra of no job is too small or too big makes her an asset to any small business and our planet!
Keto Chow’s Miriam Bair - Co-Founder, Chief Operations Officer
“Our bodies are magical, they work a lot better than we think they do. There could be so much more wrong with them. We need to give ourselves grace and kindness if we are to heal. Our bodies are amazing, try not to only focus on what you don't have but focus on what you do have. What are you good at? How can you be help to others? Today try not to get down on yourself, try to use that amazing body and mind to lift someone up.
When doing keto focus on what foods you can have and not what you can't have. Make new memories and relationships with healthier foods, go to new restaurants that you don't have a connection with an emotional event and the french fries. You are making a change to help your body, help your mind along so you can be successful, it is the little things that can get you far.
Kindness, compassion, and charity are the keys to success.
Be the company you would like to purchase from, do the things you would like to have done for you.”
Miriam and her husband, Chris, started formulating Keto Chow in 2014 and… the rest is history. It’s not an easy feat capturing just how influential their hard work and dedication has been to so many people and the keto community at large - not only have they developed a truly innovative and great-tasting product, but they deeply care about all of their customers. From daily livestreams, interviews with health professionals, and well-researched blog posts, they’ve made knowledge so accessible to their customers, truly empowering them to take control of their health. It’s no wonder why Keto Chow is our bestseller. And not to mention, Miriam does this all while being a mother of 6!
Lee’s Provisions’ Lee Capatina - Founder
“My thoughts would be that something good comes out of every bad situation. It's important to stay positive and know that you are capable of dealing with whatever life throws your way.”
A former model, Lee left the industry to pursue her passion in healthy living and nutrition - thus culminating in Lee’s Provisions. A godsend to keto-ers and general foodies alike, Lee started by making her own ghee from home, sharing it among friends and family and from then, she appeared on Dragon’s Den, showing that you really are capable of anything with enough determination. Lee, now a registered holistic nutritionist, just published her first cookbook, Eat Good Fat, which has over 100 healthy fat-fuelled recipes!
Legit Bread Company's Jennifer Robins - Founder
“Thanks for thinking of me. One of my favorite quotes is “The greatest source of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves”. As entrepreneurs we often listen to those lies and live in fear that we fabricate all inside our own heads. Pushing past that and realizing that’s what’s happening always helps me!”
A veteran, Jennifer leads her business endeavours with great confidence, drive, and most importantly, great care about the people she’s serving. Jennifer started Legit Bread in an effort to improve the gluten- and grain-free market’s unsatisfactory bread options (much of which was inauthentic paleo and non-allergen friendly). Her drive continues to innovate the world of food and of individuals as a bestselling author of five cookbooks and not to mention, founding Predominantly Paleo!
Live Organic’s Jennifer Italiano - Co-Founder
“Surround yourself with women who would mention your name in a room full of opportunities.”
Jennifer and her brother completely shook up Toronto’s vibrant food scene when they opened up the first vegan juice bar in the city in 2001. While their restaurant may have closed down, Jennifer has made it a point to continue serving the community with their favourite raw food and vegan products through Live Organic. This caring heart and soul is the centerpoint of her business - each year she bikes from Toronto to Montreal to raise money for people living with HIV/AIDS and Jennifer was a finalist for The 2020 Total Mom Show which connects, supports, and celebrates mom entrepreneurs!
Munch Life’s Courtney Kieboom - Owner, Operator
“The biggest challenge in my life is being a stay at home parent to young kids and running a business. As you know, this feels impossible most days. Sometimes I rock both, other days I feel like a failure at both. I try to find the balance but it's not always easy. I am always reminding myself throughout the day on how important it is to focus on one thing at a time and separate work from my kids. I am on parent mode during the day and when kids are in bed, I work. Till all hours. I've been more strict with myself ever since having my second. When she was first born, I was overpowering my thoughts with how much work had to be done, things the business needed etc, instead on focusing on myself and my family. With the help of my partner, I changed my mindset because I was headed down the wrong path. It's great when you have a supportive partner.
I consider myself a very positive person always finding the good in every situation and that helps keep my mind out of the gutter.
The quote I definitely live by is, “Everything happens for a reason and life will always work out. One way or the other! The universe is very powerful and if you put enough positive vibes out there, they are bound to bounce back!” - Barkha Cardoz”
Courtney and her husband, Scott, started Munch Life, a Customer Friend-favourite, to provide a better nut butter option for their growing family. Like Courtney said above, running a growing business alongside raising a growing family is not an easy task - but even as they welcomed a new addition to their now family of four during the height of COVID-19, Courtney also made sure to reach out to their community, offering care packages for families and single parents who might be struggling. This family business right out of Abbotsford, BC runs on deep values and ethics, and not to mention - they created the first and only macadamia nut butter in the country!
Philosophie’s Sophie Jaffe - Founder
“The more aligned I am with my best self, from the choices I make to the relationships I nurture, the more my life becomes what I always wanted.
Morning Mantra //
I begin this day with a full + open heart
I am whole
I experience life from a place of simplicity, love + appreciation
I work hard because it feels good
I share my love, smile + heart with complete generosity
I refuse to dim my light from fear
I am here to serve from a place of love
I hold nothing back
I am whole
Mid day check in //
I sit with myself
Tuning inward to my hearts deepest essence
As I deeply exhale I release anything not serving me
As I expansively inhale I take up space
There is space for all of us
Everything I want is happening in my favor
Everything I do is a labor of love
Evening prayer //
I am grateful for this roof over my head
I am honored to walk this path
This dance of mystery
To have rituals that keep me present + centered
I am proud of every aspect of who I am
As i rest my head I allow all self doubt to release away from my body”
Philosophie bloomed out of Sophie’s passion and commitment to healthy eating and wellness - something she inherited from another strong woman, her mother who is a holistic nurse practitioner! In the early days when Philosophie was still a seedling, Sophie collected all ingredients, and curated all blends, and delivered all orders herself. Today, all you have to do is run a quick Google search of Sophie Jaffe to see how she has encouraged so many people to live healthy and with intention!
Snacker Yogi’s Bhawna Sindhwani - Founder
"A superhero leads only a dual life. A woman leads many more than just two. She is a creator (of a new life), a care-taker (of an existing family), an operator (of a household and a business), a supporter (to her partner and peers) and a deamer... all without hiding her face/feelings behind a mask."
In founding Snacker Yogi in 2018, Bhawna innovated the keto and healthy food snack scene, being the first to introduce puffed lotus seeds to Canada. Any of our Customer Friends will tell you how hard it is to find savoury and crunchy snacks for their lifestyles and dietary restrictions, but Bhawna is completely enthusiastic and committed to creating nutritious, delicious, and accessible foods. Bhawna’s words here sum it all up - all of the women featured here, all of the women reading are these and so much more. Women are infinite with infinite capabilities.
Sooo Ketolicious’ Rajaa Theriault - Founder, Co-CEO
“There are so many words of wisdom I go by but there is one that resonate with me especially since covid started:
"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." --Nathaniel Hawthorne
About the picture, I can be very self conscious about my figure when I am pregnant or after pregnancy, so I didn't get any professional pictures with our new packaging yet. Also you must know how crazy it is to do everything at once.”
Rajaa, our newest supplier, started Sooo Ketolicious to provide a keto version of the ultimate comfort food - pizza. With a family history of diabetes, Rajaa places importance on clean, natural, and GMO-free ingredients for the benefit of her customers’ health. In addition to being a business owner, Rajaa is a stay-at-home mom to three young kids and we know that there’s no job more phenomenal.
SweetMonk’s Nicole Benes and Kelsey Gemmill - Co-Founders
“I love quotes, a couple of my favourite are:
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily, the secret of your success is found I your daily routine”
“I can and I will, watch me”
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”
“Be curious, not judgemental””
“I don’t have quotes per se but I do have a few self talk notions I use regularly for myself...
Ask questions. Why am I doing this? What is the value? Is this important?
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.
You can do this!”
Nicole and Kelsey had worked together for seven years as sales representatives before starting SweetMonk. They saw an unfulfilled gap in the market for a product that simultaneously hits those sweet cravings and encourages a healthy lifestyle so they took matters into their own hands and created a product that so easily added sweetness to our customers’ lives. Since then, these two have been satisfying so many sweet tooths (all sugar-free!).
eShipper's Harpreet Kaur - eCommerce Manager
"“Being a woman means having the strength to tackle difficult times in life, being confident and being real.” I love being able to contribute my time and effort towards making sure an eCommerce business out there is growing and thriving even during the most challenging times."
eShipper+'s Lovepreet Kaur - Customer Success Manager
"I live by the quote- "There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise - Bosa Sebele"
As a Customer Success Manager, it is this force that I get to realize when I listen to my customers and help them resolve their queries in the best possible way."
Orbit Brokers' Esther deNijs - Account Manager
"I have worked at Orbit Brokers since 2006, where I started as a customs clerk and worked my way up to account manager. 15 years later and three kids, there has been lots of ups and downs. In those times that you struggle it is reminding yourself every day that you are enough as you are. This is something that has taken me a long time to come to terms with and has allowed me to strive for perseverance over perfection. Every challenge I face is an opportunity to grow and improve. Whenever I need an extra boost, I listen to a song called "I'm Here"
I believe I have inside of me
Everything that I need to live a bountiful life
And all the love alive in me
I'll stand as tall as the tallest tree
And I'm thankful for every day that I'm given
Both the easy and hard ones I'm livin'
But most of all
I'm thankful for loving who I really am
Yes, I'm beautiful
And I'm here
Happy International Women's Day to all beautiful Women wherever you are. I am honored to be witness to your strength and resilience every day and remember how beautiful you are and how much you are capable of."
eShipper is our fulfillment and warehousing centre that has operated during the pandemic to support us, support our customers, troubleshoot, pack boxes, and so much more through multiple lockdowns.
Orbit Brokers has cleared every single shipment for us coming from the US since we started in 2017 and has been a huge support to our team. They are a customs broker and their email response time is insane - they are the epitome of what support from a service provider who truly cares for its customers looks like. SwitchGrocery would not be what it is without the support eShipper and Orbit Brokers, and the capabilities and talent of these women!
Thank you to our Customer Friends for championing our suppliers and us, and cheering us on.
We are so proud of our suppliers and inspired by them. I hope for a day of real gender equality and inclusiveness, also a day where caregiving is valued as much as work.
Until then, we will champion all women in Canada, US and around the world who are building businesses with smarts, heart and soul.