Nuts for Cheese is a true passion project and sharing the products with customers has been a labour of love for the team. Their line of artisan, handcrafted, and vegan cheeses made from cultured, organic cashews are delicious and sure to delight. These plant-based products are dairy-free, gluten-free, and ready to enjoy in a variety of recipes.
Nuts For Cheese was born of a passion for cooking and the flavour elements used to season the products are all handmade with love. Cashew cheeses are a plant-based, cruelty-free, and health-conscious alternative to traditional dairy cheeses.
We caught up with Nuts for Cheese CEO Margaret Coons to chat about what inspires her and what advice she has for aspiring entrepreneurs!
Nuts for Cheese was a finalist in our LiON’S LAIR competition in 2016, and came in second place! She took home just over $50,000 in cash and in-kind resources to grow her business.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR COMPANY?
I’ve been a vegetarian since the age of 12 and vegan since the age of 19. Having spent my adolescence struggling to find good quality vegan food alternatives I became very passionate about making my own!
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST REWARDING ABOUT BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR? WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING?
I love working for myself and I love having the ability to cultivate an environment of positivity in the workplace by composing an awesome team of folks to work with. The job becomes your whole life and it is so easy to just work all the time so sometimes it is tough to set work life boundaries with something you are so passionate about.
HOW HAS ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEFIED OR LIVED UP TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
I had very few expectations going into this. I intended to have a farmers’ market stall selling our products and it quickly turned into my whole life! I feel like I’m playing catch up to this business all the time and feel so fortunate to be having that experience.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH INNOVATION FACTORY?
A mentor of mine at the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) recommended that I connect with Innovation Factory and apply for the LiON’S LAIR competition.
WHAT HAVE YOU VALUED MOST ABOUT INNOVATION FACTORY’S SERVICES/SUPPORT?
The connections we have made with the Innovation Factory team, their extensive network, and fellow entrepreneurs have been so incredibly valuable. The support and investment in Nuts For Cheese projects has been abundant and effective.
HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?
WHAT DIFFERENTIATES YOU FROM YOUR COMPETITION?
The culinary experience and passion for food production that is behind our products sets us apart.
WHAT IS THE BEST RECOGNITION YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
Finishing as a winner of the LiON’S LAIR competition in 2016, receiving an award from the Toronto Vegetarian Association for best artisanal packaged product, and being featured on CBC, in the Toronto Star, and Toronto Life!
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE NEXT YEAR AND BEYOND?
We plan to grow our team and increase our production capacity to be able to supply more Canadians with awesome vegan cheese!
WHAT SUPPORT WILL YOU LOOK TO INNOVATION FACTORY FOR IN THE COMING MONTHS?
We love our regular check ins with our Executive in Residence and mentor John Holland and the food forum round table discussions.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS WHO MAY JUST HAVE AN IDEA?
Throw yourself at it but don’t take it too lightly. It’s a lot of work but with the passion and drive, it is the most rewarding thing to grow an idea and work for yourself.
HOW CAN WE CONNECT WITH YOU?