The Fall is often a time when many of our furry friends prepare for the winter ahead.
Founders Kathy MacDonald and Sheena Russell started Made with Local after realizing that healthy snacking options were either NOT delicious, or NOT actually healthy and full of all kinds of weird stuff (or both). The two sourced a variety of ingredients from local farmers and food producers and launched their Real Food Bars at the Halifax Seaport Farmer's Market in June 2012.
Now, Made with Local products can be found at Sobey’s, Bulk Barn and other major and local grocers across Canada.
We spoke with Made with Local to find out what makes their business tick.
Why is it important for you to support other local businesses? The true asset it our company isn't yummy snack foods - it's the community we've built. The farmers and food producers who have grown with us since day one, the little indie coffee shops who were our very first wholesale accounts, and now the community-based social enterprise kitchens that make our bars - they're all pillars in our company. We wouldn't have the success we've had so far, without each of them.
Made with Local is a purpose-driven business and if we ended up doing business in a 'conventional' way, ie. buying the cheapest ingredients, using a production factory, focusing on mass-distribution, it would feel really empty. I know I wouldn't feel motivated to run a business that didn't have a greater purpose- we're doing things differently.
What are you most proud of in your business? I am proud of the people that are connected to Made with Local. I am proud of our suppliers, I am proud of our production kitchens for keeping up on this wild ride we've been on and, I'm proud that we have customers that bought bars from our farmer's market table 5 years ago that still pop by our office to pick up their online order. Again - the word comes up - I'm really proud of the Made with Local community.
What do you think is more important: scalability or sustainability? or both? I mean, it's hard to see the point in scaling up if it's not sustainable. We have grown our business in a very controlled way, and now 5 years in, we are expanding our production kitchens and opening up to markets outside of Atlantic Canada. We've continued to adhere to our values of working in partnership with social enterprises and sourcing locally whenever possible; I like to think we're a good example of having your cake (or Real Food Bar!) and eating it, too!
Sheena and Kathy truly do run their business with community in mind. Not only by sourcing local ingredients, but also by employing and empowering the talented individuals they work with at The Flower Cart Group and Dartmouth Adult Services Center. Made with Local is a great example of how you can build a company that is profitable and responsible.