Few people know this about me, but I prefer eating a flexitarian diet. That means a lot of things to different people, but for me it means that I opt for vegetarian options when they are offered. It’s not for any other reason other than my mental & physical health because I feel like I am making the better & healthier choice.
One of the things that excites me about eating healthier foods and vegetarian/vegan options is that fact that it is becoming so much more common place and discussed socially. As we as a Canadian society move more towards taking care of ourselves and the planet, it’s spawned a lot of innovation in the food industry. From plant-based burgers that taste incredible, to vegan/vegetarian desserts and to healthier choices of carbs, it’s not hard to make the healthier choices when it’s affordable, and it’s getting there!
One of the products I am looking forward to trying now that I know it exists is Nuts For Cheese, created by this My Day segment’s feature entrepreneur, Margaret Coons! Welcome, Margaret!
Question 1: Describe yourself in only 3 words.
- Passionate, creative, & resilient.
Question 2: Tell me more about your business(es) or initiatives? What kind are they?
- I am the Founder & CEO of Nuts For Cheese, we make 100% dairy-free, plant-based cheese and butter from Certified Organic and Fairtrade cashews.
- I’ve always been passionate about the culinary arts and was a vegetarian and then vegan from a young age.
- In 2015, I began experimenting to create creamy, vegan cheeses using nuts and seeds while I was working as a chef at a vegan restaurant. After introducing a popular vegan cheese board to the menu, I started to sell my cheeses at a local farmer’s market and Nuts For Cheese took off from there.
- We just surpassed 5 years in business and are now available at more than 1,600 stores across Canada and the US, with 30 full-time employees operating out of a 20,000 sq. ft facility! I feel very fortunate to be where we are today and thankful to everyone who has supported us along the way.
Question 3: Where does your drive come from? What are your sources of inspiration?
- One of my passions is making healthy, plant-based alternatives more widely available and uniting people through delicious and healthy food.
- My family, friends, mentors and employees continue to inspire me every single day. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my dedicated team or the people who believed in my vision in the early days!
Question 4: Considering how fierce competition is among your industry, what are your competitive advantages? What makes you stand out in the crowd?
- The plant-based category has grown significantly in recent years and is on track to continue expanding. With that said, I truly believe that consumers enjoy having options when it comes to regular dairy and plant-based cheese options.
- We were fortunate to come to market with a tasty product early in the game which helped Nuts For Cheese establish a recognizable brand. I’m grateful for our growing Instagram following of nearly 20,000 people who are very active, engaged and passionate – they are our best ambassadors!
Question 5: No two days are often the same for an entrepreneur, but what does a typical day look like for you?
- I typically wake up early to start my day off with some form of exercise, whether it’s yoga, running or even just riding my bike to work. I find this gets me in the right headspace to take on the day!
- I’m involved with many aspects of my company from marketing and sales to R&D and quality assurance, operations and finance, so most of my days are filled with lots of meetings (many of which have been on Zoom lately!).
- Outside of the office, you can catch me experimenting in my kitchen to create new recipes, meeting with friends and family or relaxing with a good book.
Question 6: What do you do daily to grow as a person?
- I believe everything is about balance and finding grounding in the midst of a busy schedule.
- I consider myself a lifelong learner and genuinely value human connection, I think there’s something to be learned from everyone.
Question 7: What tricks have you discovered to keep you focused, productive and achieve a decent work/life balance?
- I often say you can’t take life too seriously!
- I think everything should be taken in moderation and for me, that means the experience of a good meal, quality time spent with family and friends, and striking a balance between working hard and making time for myself.
Question 8: What popular advice do you agree/disagree with?
- People often say entrepreneurs and business owners should seek out mentors and I couldn’t agree more!
- Some of my greatest mentors have helped open my mind and pushed me to grow both personally and professionally and shown me new ways of thinking.
Question 9: What’s your favourite metaphor to describe entrepreneurship or leadership?
- “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
Question 10: What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your career? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
- Nuts For Cheese has grown very quickly in a relatively new industry meaning the answers or “next steps” weren’t always readily available.
- We have had to scale up our production to meet growing demand while maintaining the quality, artisanal products our consumers have come to love.
- I’ve spent many late nights with an “all hands on deck” approach to get large orders out the door. I’m happy to say we’ve made it through most of our growing pains and the future is looking bright!
If someone wants more information, what is the best way to contact you?
- You can contact me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaretcoons/
Thank-you, Margaret! Can’t wait to visit a store near me to try out your delicious-sounding and looking product!