There is proof right here in Whistler that good entrepreneurial ideas are still out there.
John and Leah Garrad-Coles have their sight set on making their company, Love Child Organics, the number one snack brand for kids in Canada between the ages of six months and six years. The Whistler couple is well on their way with their product now available at Nesters Market outlets, in Wal-Mart stores across Canada, in some IGA stores and available at other stores large and small.
They started shipping their products to stores in January.
"It is going very well," says John. "We've been overwhelmed by the response from both retailers and customers."
Love Child Organics was inspired by the arrival of Poppy Garrad-Coles three years ago. John and Leah lived in the United Kingdom for a decade before moving to Whistler. Organic baby food is popular in the U.K., says John, and the new parents discovered that the organic baby food offerings here were lacking. Without knowing much about the food industry and having no contacts in the business the pair decided they would fill the void.
They now produce six purees packaged in squeezable plastic pouches. The Love Child ingredients include quinoa, acerola fruit, strawberries, peaches, pears, blueberries, bananas, apples, mangoes, peas, sweet potato, butternut squash, corn, carrots and kale.
According to John, all six flavours are selling almost equally with the combination of quinoa, acerola fruit, kale, peas and pears enjoying a slight popularity edge. John thinks that might have something to do with a desire on the part of parents to take advantage of the nutritional value of kale.
Poppy was the first person to approve the flavours. Her little brother Cameron, who has only been around for 12 months, was the second person to approve the purees.
"They've certainly had their fair share of purees over the last few years, that's for sure," John says with a laugh as he confirms that his two children were the early test subjects for the business venture.
John explains that the product goes through a flash pasteurization process before going into convenient plastic containers. The PH balance, or acidity, of the food is optimized to allow it to store in the container for up to 12 months.
He and his wife have learned a significant amount in the process of launching their company. John chuckles as he admits that a few years ago there is no way he could have explained the process for preparation and packaging for the pureed organic fruits and vegetables.
Now three years later, and following an initial production launch of 400,000 units of Love Child Organics, he and Leah have learned a great deal about production, marketing and working with experts.
Their product is created at a facility in Ontario and distributed across the country. John says discussions are underway to ship outside of Canada.
In the meantime, Playground Builders are benefiting from the sale of Love Child Organics as a penny from the sale of each package is being donated to the Whistler-based charity that builds play structures for kids in war-torn places.