Q&A Featuring Females: Earth + City

By accident, our team of nutritionists at Village Juicery has become mainly all women. We chalk it up to the profession being female-dominated and open up welcoming arms to male nutritionists every chance we get! As a result, we are lucky enough to be among a group of intelligent, creative and like-minded women who inspire me daily.

Because of the pride we have in our team and in women with passion all over the world, we are kicking off a series of featured posts on strong, powerful, accomplished woman that exude positivity and act as role models to our staff. These women are the game-changers in our community that we are fortunate to have crossed paths with. The quality of their work speaks wonders, however, getting to know their successes and failures and tidbits of advice has been eye-opening, educational and simply, beautiful.

Our second feature is on the two women who co-founded Earth + City, Lisa and Cassandra. Earth + City offers healthy, plant-based, seasonal foods with the mission of enriching the health and sustainability of our local food community and economy.

What inspired you to found a small business in health food?

I was very inspired by the notion of food as medicine in my mid-thirties, which in turn led to my involvement in the opening of Earth + City. I had been dealing with a variety of medical issues that I felt weren’t adequately addressed by the allopathic system. Searching for a way to augment my health, I discovered a world of raw, plant-based food along with naturopathic strategies for healing. My co-founder, Cassandra, had a strong background in food and restaurants, coupled with a passion for local procurement and sustainability. Together, we decided to embark on a business that would have a meaningful impact on the local food system in Toronto.

What is your most popular product? Why do you think it is?

Our most popular product is most certainly our Cowgirl Cookie. Available at our markets, at local retailers like Village Juicery and Jimmy’s Coffee, this cookie is a huge hit. I think people like it for the same reason I reach for it so often: the Cowgirl Cookie is a filling, all-natural snack that works in a variety of circumstances. Whether I need a quick breakfast, a filling snack post-run, or a late afternoon pick-me-up, the Cowgirl Cookie hits the spot every time.

What’s your favourite place in Toronto?

Oooh, great question! This is a tough one. There are so many awesome places in this city – urban, exciting spaces as well as quiet, tucked away nature nooks. If I had to pick, I would say my favourite place in Toronto is Wychwood Barns. It’s a special place for me and Cassandra – our business got its start on Saturday mornings at the Barns, way back in 2010. There will always be something magical about Wychwood for us. It’s full of potential and nostalgia; there is an energy that will always feel like home.

What is one of the most important lessons you have learned from owning a small business?

Gosh, another great question. Without thinking about it too deeply, I’d say that most important lesson is to trust your gut (and along with that comes knowing when to say “no”). It’s so easy to feel like you have to say yes to everything and that you have to take every opportunity that appears along your path. Listen to your gut when presented with new directions and new possibilities. Some are perfect for you and your business, others aren’t. To survive and, more importantly, thrive in the small business world requires a strong connection to your core beliefs and values.

What key piece of advice would you give a young person thinking about starting their own business?

The simplest thing I can offer is just “Go for it!” If you have a great idea and are driven and motivated, give it a try! You never know what will land and what won’t. Nothing is permanent in this life and anything can happen. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. If it doesn’t work out, you can change it. Everything is possible.

What qualities do you think are necessary to embrace as an entrepreneur?

Resiliency, flexibility, creativity. Spontaneity, organization, commitment. Drive, strong values, leadership.

Name 5 things you can’t live without:

  1. My running shoes. There’s nothing I love more than running around city streets and park trails.
  2. Tea! I start everyday with a cup of black tea, sweetened with local Ontario honey.
  3. Sandwiches. As someone who doesn’t love to cook, sandwiches will forever be my go-to.
  4. Laughter. Whether it’s cry-laughing with friends and family about old stories or comedic shenanigans at Earth + City, a day without laughter is a day I don’t want to experience.
  5. My son, Will! He’s 7 months old and totally rocking my world! Oh, and I better tack on my wife, Ashley, to this one too – we always joke that Will has replaced each other as “most important person”! 😉


Interview and questions by Stephani Fenk, CNP

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