Any parent will tell you they want the best for their children, and that often starts with good nutrition. When John and Leah Garrad-Cole had their first child, daughter Poppy, they began to really think about what was in their food. Searching for something natural and nutritious, they were disappointed with the options available in stores. Many products that were made for young children contained unwanted additives, had unnecessary ‘fillers’, or were lacking in essential nutritious elements.
As an experienced home cook, Leah set out to create clean, organic, super-food packed, meals that would provide their children with the nutrition the needed. “We wanted our children to grow up with an appreciation for healthy food, and to get the best start in life possible. What better way than through their nutrition?” says John.
This soon prompted the couple to begin a home based business selling Leah’s recipes for children’s meals and snacks. They called their company ‘Love Child Organics’. Then things happened fast.
There is a lot of demand from parents out there seeking the healthy alternatives the Garrad-Cole’s had developed. Love Child Organics quickly had production and distribution deals which put products in 1,200 Canadian stores, including Walmart.
Looking to grow their business further, the couple applied to be on the CBC show Dragons’ Den in March of 2013. Their appearance on the show was a success as they struck a $300K deal with Dragons’ Arlene Dickinson and David Chilton. The deal eventually grew to $750K, the largest in Dragons’ Den history.
Love Child Organics Dives Into Exports
Soon after their Dragons’ Den appearance, Love Child had interest from Walmart USA. They knew they were going to have to increase their production quickly to meet Walmart’s orders. Export Development Canada (EDC) provided Love Child with a 100 per cent preshipment financing facility, which gave them the capital they needed to meet the higher production requirements.
“When you’re a small business, one of the hardest things is finding a manufacturer that meets your requirements, and will actually talk to you,” says John. “We were fortunate to have found a manufacturer we could work with, but having the support of EDC, the ‘Dragons’, and our bank, helped us to increased our production size and meet these larger orders.”
This was a key opportunity in Love Child’s growth, and one that helped propel them into the US market.
“There’s nothing quite like the first time you see your own product on a store shelf,” says John. “Our business plan was always to be a national brand and to enter the US. It certainly happened faster than we expected, but we’re pleased with the direction we’re headed.”
The Excitement of a New Business
Love Child Organics is now focused on managing their growth in the US and developing new product lines that fit with the needs of growing healthy families. With the Walmart USA deal, the BC-based company has since caught the eye of Ahold U.S.A., a food retail distribution giant with massive reach in the US northeast. That required another financing deal to free up Lovechild’s cash flow. Using the same groundwork already in place for the Walmart USA, EDC provided financing to support the distribution to Ahold.
“There was certainly some anxiety plunging into a new business, but we really believed in our products,” says John. “Now we can’t wait to see what the future holds.”