I started my food-processing business, Honest Elixirs, in 2019. At the time, I knew almost nothing about starting a food processing or packaged food business. Truth be told, this is the way many, if not most, food businesses begin; they begin with passion, a great recipe, a family story, or a deep love of food. Food businesses don’t always start with a clear understanding of the industry, the regulations, or what it really takes to start and grow a business in this industry. It takes grit and a lot of love for food to get started. But passion can only take a person so far! To grow a sustainable and profitable food processing business also requires a lot of resources and support.
Starting any business can be overwhelming. Food processing in particular comes with an interesting set of challenges: different levels of food safety standards, federal packaging rules, wide ranging (and often slim) margins depending on how and who you’re selling to… it’s enough to stop some people from starting all together!
When I was in the beginning stages of my business, I was searching for support and guidance. Around that time, I was given the opportunity to participate in a pilot project through the Kamloops Food Policy Council which looked at the feasibility of a food hub in Kamloops. The opportunity to be a part of that project and receive some coaching, while also helping to inform the Kamloops Food Policy Council about what businesses like mine in Kamloops needed, came at the perfect time.
Back then, a physical food hub - a commercial kitchen space built specifically for food processors - was a far off goal, but the idea sounded like exactly what I needed. Suitable commercial kitchen space in Kamloops was very hard to find at the time. In my own business, I was renting out a commercial kitchen in a cafe, where I would work when the cafe was closed - often working late into the night or early morning, then packing everything up and hauling it all away with me. While I’m so grateful for that cafe and the opportunity it provided my business, it was exhausting not having a space that I could access whenever I needed it, and not having on-site storage for my product, equipment, and ingredients. Many other business owners that I met were having similar challenges finding suitable, affordable kitchen space.
Fortunately for food businesses starting out now, the dream of a Food Hub in Kamloops has become a reality with the opening of The Stir - a food hub for the Kamloops region, developed and run by the Kamloops Food Policy Council. The Stir provides businesses with just what I was looking for back in 2019: a state of the art kitchen with specialized processing equipment, accessible 24/7, with a variety of onsite storage options. A Food Hub takes a lot of the risk out of starting a business, as entrepreneurs don’t have to invest in their own equipment or facilities. It also provides its members with mentorship, support, and a network of other entrepreneurs to help you on your journey.
I now have the pleasure of working at The Stir as the Kitchen Coordinator, while continuing to run Honest Elixirs. It’s exciting to get to meet and work with local entrepreneurs who are in varying stages of their businesses, and to witness their growth. There are so many benefits to renting The Stir, and I’m thrilled that businesses now have this option that I could only dream of a few years ago!
If you have a food idea that you are passionate about, something that you make for friends and family and everyone tells you is amazing, or maybe a product that you’ve been selling at markets but are ready to take further - reach out to The Stir! We’d love to see you turn that idea into a reality and we have the resources and experience to help you out. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website: https://www.thestir.kitchen/.