To help celebrate International Women’s Day today we have chosen to highlight some amazing female-founded food brands in Canada. The hustling badass women behind these companies are paving the way for future generations to come. Whether they chose to leave secure jobs to follow their passions or had to fight uphill battles to get to where they are today, these entrepreneurial women are certainly leaving their mark on the food industry.
Check out 10 female-founded Canadian food brands below!
When Emily O’Brien was sentenced to 2 years in prison for a drug-smuggling charge, she went in with a mission. A mission to change herself and make a difference that would benefit others. While in the facility she became inspired by other women who were getting creative with the ingredients they had to spice up their popcorn. She began a business plan for a company that would use quality ingredients and flavours inspired by the ingredients available to her in prison. Through Comeback Snacks, Emily and her team are on a journey to end the stigma around ex-cons and to give them an opportunity to gain their confidence and independence back. All while making delicious popcorn!
Christine Manning decided it was time for a career change when she lost her marketing job on her first day back from her honeymoon. Christine grew up preserving foods with her Italian family and started selling her jarred creations at farmers’ markets around Ontario. Her pickles, jams, and healthy fresh-pressed juices were a major success and her female-founded business grew. Christine has expanded Manning Canning to now include kitchen rental spaces, as she noticed that many entrepreneurs lacked access to reliable spaces to create their products.
Mary Oliveira grew up creating delicious desserts and chocolates with her mom in their home of Sao Paulo, Brazil. She moved to Canada with her husband and the hopes of creating her own business. When she realized that there weren’t many shops specializing in Brazilian desserts, she decided it was time to bring a new kind of hand-crafted confectionary to the country, the Brigadeiro. These tedious chocolate creations are hand-rolled to perfection and available in dozens of delicious flavours at their Toronto store as well as online for delivery.
Dina Rock turned her hobby of at-home preserving and healthy living into a nationally distributed brand. Born and raised in New York, Dina has since settled in Toronto with her family. She combines tips and tricks from legendary pickle makers in New York with farm-fresh Ontario ingredients. The result is an array of delicious pickles, sauerkrauts and drinks that are packed with probiotics, gluten-free, additive-free, raw and vegan available from her female-founded company.
Jackie Kwitko was a producer at CBC TV and Radio for many years before she decided it was time for a career change. Jackie understood the struggle of trying to feed picky children healthy food and decided to do something about it. She began to puree fruits and vegetables and freeze them into kid-friendly popsicles, and they were a hit! The female-founded food brand Fressy Bessie creates preservative, additive, salt and sweetener-free frozen treats that your kids will love.
Elisabeth Burrow and her husband moved to a farm in Fergus, Ontario with the dream of living a rural country life. When they arrived, Elisabeth noticed the great care that many people took to eat local, sustainable ingredients and was inspired to do the same. Her family began planting hundreds of nut trees; hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and more! She began selling their roasted nuts and the success inspired her to create a variety of unique flavours like Spicy Caesar Walnut, Mojito Jalapeno Pecan and Coffeehouse Hazelnut.
After spending over 25 years in the corporate world, Seema Pabari made the decision to pursue a career where she could be her own boss. She grew up in a family that cherished home-cooked meals and loved the idea of bringing people together with her food. She began with a small lunch delivery service out of her friend’s restaurant, selling her homemade curries. As the business grew, Seema wanted to extend the shelf-life of her recipes so she could sell them in retail stores. Her jars of curry goodness are not like typical sauces or soups, the Tiffinday stews are complete meals when combined with grains and come in many delicious flavours!
Kailey Gilchrist was a young girl when she began cooking up creative meals with her mother in the kitchen. After working in a health food store in Toronto and nurturing her passion for cooking, she realized that there was nothing close to what she was creating on the market already. Sure, there were vegan cheese and pasta sauces, but many of them were packed with preservatives and artificial ingredients. Nona Vegan Foods creates vegan alfredo, cheesy and carbonara style sauces, with healthy and nourishing ingredients. This is vegan comfort food done right!
After studying journalism at University, Meagan Bowden created a food blog that allowed her to pursue her greatest passion, cooking. After gaining experience at restaurants and other catering companies, Meagan decided it was time to create her own company. Phancy Food and Catering is making events unforgettable while putting a modern twist on classic dishes with multicultural-inspired flavours. Meagan has since started the Female Food Entrepreneur Network, an important outlet for many women in the industry to connect with each other.
After suffering from a painful miscarriage, the first thing that brought Tonia Jahshan joy in the weeks to follow was a cup of Earl Grey loose-leaf tea. Inspired by the taste, smell and appearance of the delicious tea, Tonia decided to create her own loose-leaf tea business with her husband. When the business grew, they decided to take their ideas to Dragon’s Den. Thanks to the support from Dragons David Chilton and Jim Treliving, Tonia’s female-founded food brand was able to flourish and is now the most prestigious tea brand in North America.
Feature Image: @marysbrigadeiro