As we approach the end of this crazy year, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on 2020, and reinforce our commitment to you and our mission despite the uncertain road ahead.
2020 has been a rollercoaster. It has forced us to change and adapt in ways we could never have predicted. Many of our shops remain locked down and almost half of our wholesale partners have shut their doors. A constant barrage of opening, closing, and retrofitting. New processes. Temporary layoffs. Changing schedules. While at times it has been emotionally exhausting, the truth is that our team has accomplished so much and we’ve never felt so inspired to drive our mission.
The inspiration comes from three lessons that this experience has taught us:
- The importance of high integrity foods. Through this crisis we’ve seen incredible demand for our products. Many looked to us for nourishment as they focused on their immune system and craved healthier foods. We know this is a privilege for many, but this is where it starts. Real food that is made closer to home, by real people, with real ingredients. Food made from plants, in sustainable and organic ways. The future needs more of these options, not less. We recognized this need early and responded by donating over 1,000 meals to our frontline healthcare workers and teachers. We pivoted online to make our products more accessible and delivered them to over 6,000 homes directly.
- Small, local businesses are the best place to get them. We all miss the local shops that we’ve lost in our communities. Places where owners are present and invested in the vibrancy of their city. Places where patrons, team-members, suppliers, and the environment are treated like neighbors. Not only do these businesses support healthy communities, but almost always have outright better products and services than their big box substitutes. Small businesses like ours are a critical part of a healthy social fabric.
- The importance, strength and diversity of our team. Our team has carried us through this crisis and has persevered through plenty of difficulty and turbulence. 2020 taught us to appreciate each other and listen to more voices. We’re requesting feedback more often, measuring diversity in new ways, and doing our best to raise wages at all levels despite the environment we’re facing. We’re proud that our leadership team is 50% BIPOC and 50% women, and committed to making sure this never goes unnoticed again.
While these lessons and inspiration feel great to talk about, they would be nothing without the actions that they bring;
- We are committing to opening at least 5 new stores in Ontario by 2022. More communities need access to high integrity food, and we are inspired to reach them.
- We are committing to making more employees owners in our business. This year we rolled out an employee ownership program and will continue to include more of our team to participate as owners in our business.
- We are launching a new line of products tailored to support our local restaurant and bar partners - so that they can come back stronger than ever when the time is right.
- In all of this, we will never stray from our 3 core values: 1) Always Fresh 2) Nutrition First and 3) Our Commitment to sustainability and community
So as we roll into this holiday season, we just want to say thank you to all of you for standing by us. For ordering online or waiting outside our doors to get in. To our partners and our team, we appreciate you all more than we have the words to say.
Despite this crazy year, we’re here to stay and look forward to continuing to serve healthier options to our community in 2021 and beyond.
Omar and Tyler