What is Luisella you ask? Luisella Foods Inc is a producer of nutritious and nut-free chocolate spreads. Luisella Foods, Inc has four flavours of chocolate spreads made from real chocolate and healthful protein-rich sunflower seeds, with no added sugars. The product is completely nut-free, as well as gluten free, palm oil free and high in fibre, making it a natural choice for school lunches. Her chocolate spreads only contains 6 (readable) ingredients.
The Henry Bernick Centre had the pleasure of meeting Patricia while she was a student attending the Culinary Management Program at Georgian College. After hearing a presentation from John Pickard, the Executive Director of HBEC and Sara Bentham, the Manager of Programs, a light went off for Patricia. Sara and John were speaking to students to encourage them to come to HBEC to talk about any potential business ideas, this is when Patricia decided to introduce her idea to the world. Two days later, Patricia walked through the HBEC doors, showed Luisella to John and Sara, and John’s response was simple but something Patricia will never forget.
“This is a good day! What day is today, Sara? It is a good day!”
John was right. From that day forward, Patricia began her amazing entrepreneurial journey.
When we sat with Patricia to talk about her journey, she spoke very highly of her supportive family; especially her husband and two sons. Her husband, and sons were always tasting her products and giving feedback. Patricia worked with HBEC and George Brown to continue to refine Luisella. Patricia made a point to attend every business related event in Barrie to introduce herself and her business. She learned many valuable skills with her mentors from HBEC; Chris, Rick, Amy and Ann to name a few. Patricia eventually left her full time job as a Chef to take Luisella to the next level. Patricia most recently just completed a Kickstarter campaign. They reached 25% of their Kickstarter goal within 48 hours! They have since reached 100% of their goal, and are continuing to receive support! We had the opportunity of sitting down with her:
Where did Luisella Foods Inc. come from?
Patricia and her husband were often on the move due to her husband’s work. They lived in Italy, where Patricia is from, Brazil and most recently Canada. Upon their arrival to Canada, Patricia learned a lesson the hard way. Chocolate spreads, an Italian household favorite, is not nut-free. Patricia sent her sons to school with a chocolate spread snack, and was quickly notified by the Principal about the seriousness of sending her sons to school with a food item that contain nuts. Patricia was horrified that she put another child in danger. With a love for children and passion for cooking, Patricia found a gap in the industry that she had the skill set to fill. Patricia spent 9 months in the kitchen creating chocolate spreads that were school safe. From scratch, Patricia created delicious real milk chocolate, nut-free, no palm oil and no added sugar chocolate spreads.
What were some challenges you experienced with building out Luisella?
“Many challenges!” says Patricia with a smile. Luisella’s most recent challenge, and probably biggest was securing a co-packer that offers and shares the same values of Luisella Foods Inc. – natural ingredients, whole foods, no nuts, no gluten, no palm oil, no added sugar.
What did you do to overcome this challenge?
“I would email John, Sara or Don with the struggles that came up. They always reminded me that it was okay, and we would get through it.” Patricia is very thankful for her team of mentors, and classes that she has attended. She stated, “I would not be here without them!”
What is next for Luisella Foods Inc. ?
Patricia has set the goal of beginning production on November 1st. From there, the goal is simple: sell, sell, sell!
Patricia has such a positive outlook on life, and it is contagious when you are in her presence. You can feel the passion she has for food, and can taste it when you try her chocolate spreads, did we mention there are 4 flavours: Original, Crunchy, Espresso and Cinnamon? We wish nothing but great success for her!
Check out her kickstarter campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1057961605/school-safe-tasty-nutritious-luisella-gets-a-kick
Instagram & Twitter: @luisellafoods