Vancouver snack company forced to close over COVID now expanding across Canada

Apr 29 2021, 3:43 pm


Made in Vancouver is a collaboration between Vancity and Daily Hive. Together, we’re turning the spotlight onto local businesses, organizations, and individuals who are helping to create a healthy local economy.


Its always an amazing thing to see when a side hustle business becomes incredibly successful.

Sarah Goodman has been running her own technology company, VitalSines, for seven years when she decided to start her side hustle.

It was during this time she decided to start Chiwis Kiwi Chips, 100% natural snacks made from real fruit. Goodman was a nutritionist, serial entrepreneur, and lover of snack food, and Chiwis became a passion project.

 

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Vancity has been supporting people in our communities since 1946, like local business owners. As part of our Made in Vancouver series spotlighting local businesses and artists, we talked to Sarah Goodman, starting at the beginning, what she’s been through, and where she hopes to go. 

Kiwi chips were a snack that I had always made for hiking, camping, outdoor adventures, and on the go for years,” Goodman told Daily Hive.

“Whenever I would bring out kiwi chips I would hear comments about how cool and different they were, and how people loved the taste ‘like healthy sour patch kids,'” she added.

These healthy snacks were a hit with Goodman’s inner circle, but as a highly successful entrepreneur already, she knew she had more work to do.

I did months of market research and consulting with veterans of the food business, and once I was confident that Chiwis could be a product that would do well and make sense in the market I put my money into creating the brand and our business strategy to move forward,” said Goodman.

 

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Months of market research is the hard work an entrepreneur knows might not pay off in the way you might hope. Even scarier, now that she had the proof she needed that people would love these snacks, it was time to invest in herself. What inspired her most was the state of the current health food options.

Many snacks in the healthy snack aisle are in fact not very healthy,” said Goodman.

“Lots have ingredients like fillers, binders, artificial sugars, and oils to make the products taste good. I wanted to create a 100% natural snack line that never had anything unnatural added ever,” she added.

 

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Goodman was inspired and had a product that people clearly had a taste for. Knowing you have a great idea that could fill a gap in the market was an exciting prospect, but Goodman was savvy enough to know that’s not all there is to it. To be successful and sustainable, the numbers have to add up.

If you want to create a product, especially a consumer packaged goods (CPG) product, you need to understand the margins that are necessary to be successful in that business and work backward from your retail price to determine if you can really make that product and have a profit for your business,” she said.

With everything in place, Goodman’s idea that became a business has begun and is growing every day.

 

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Our first two SKUS are 100% natural kiwi chips in two different flavours,” she said.

“Original is kiwi chips, and Tropical has kiwi chips, pineapple chips, and coconut chips. We are working on extending the line in the near future as well! Chiwis are listed in stores across BC and will soon be available across Canada.”

If this growth wasn’t impressive enough, it was amazing to find out the hurdles Goodman and Chiwis had to overcome to get here.

I had to fully pivot the business model after COVID hit in BC. January 2020,” said Goodman, who had already set up a facility, hired employees, and was working hard to fill orders to stores like Whole Foods.

“Self-manufacturing is really hard and expensive, and I was realizing we’d need a lot more equipment, staff, and space, way more money, and then COVID hit. I couldn’t have staff working in close quarters and we needed to press pause about a month and a half after we had started, she added.”

 

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Goodman made the smart, but incredibly difficult decision to sell all of her equipment and get out of her lease. She never let these hardships defeat her, instead spending time on the necessary research and development to return even stronger than before.

“We finally launched back into stores January 15th, 2021. In just one month we’re listed in over 80 stores in BC with the store list growing weekly,” said Goodman.

This is Goodman’s fourth business, learning valuable lessons from each venture. All of her experience leading to Chiwis has given her skills in development, branding, marketing, and sales. This expertise is so exciting, especially for a local company that is unique in more ways than one.

We are North America’s first ever kiwi chip company. We are also certified Women Owned by the international certification body WeConnect. Chiwis is 90% women owned and operated,” said Goodman.

 

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The Chiwis story of perseverance is an impressive one. Every entrepreneur starts with a goal, and to finally achieve that is to actually find a dream you’ve been chasing. Sarah Goodman never gave up on hers and found it.

People love the product and my goal to make 100% natural snacks that anyone can enjoy at work, at school, in their car, or on a mountain has become a reality!” she said.

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