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EMBRUN – Winner of the Ontario-Quebec Francophonie Commerce Award from the Federation of Francophone Business People of Ontario (FGA) and the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ), Kyan cuisine is a restaurant company based in the Prescott-Russel region in Eastern Ontario. Founded in January 2019 by three friends, Kyan Cuisine seeks to promote healthier eating through plant-based dishes. Vanessa Viau, one of the founders, immerses us in the atypical journey of this young company.
« Where does your passion for cooking come from?
I have always had this love for cooking. For me, trying new recipes is fun. My father and grandmother were in the kitchen all the time and I think indirectly they passed on this passion for food to me. I also worked in my father’s catering business. When I became a vegan, it was more complex to work with him in an environment where meat is sometimes predominant. This is what motivated me to create my company. I wanted to work in an environment that didn’t force me to make meat-based food on a daily basis. But also, provide other meal options for community members.
The company was founded by three friends. How did you meet each-other ?
Kyan Cuisine is made up of Samuel Doucet, Aude Martel and me. I have known Samuel since the third year of elementary school and we have been friends since then. Subsequently, I met Aude when she got into a relationship with Samuel. We have therefore gradually forged bonds of friendship.
What motivated you to collaborate with them?
Over time, Aude and I made the choice to no longer eat meat. In making this decision, we realized that it was very difficult to find plant-based meals in the area. Even though we were passionate about cooking, it was not easy to make meals at home when working full time. So we had the idea of starting a business that offers healthy, easy and meat-free meals for the inhabitants of our community.
What was the process of starting your business?
Kyan Cuisine was set up in the summer of 2018. During this summer, me and Aude worked on the design of new recipes and we gathered the opinions of our families and friends on our products. In general, their reviews were positive and it gave us the courage to move from idea to action. It was during these weeks of work that we had the idea to launch our first website to start selling our dishes online.
What are the roles and responsibilities of each of you within the company?
At the moment, I am the only full-time employee in the company. From production to delivery to administrative tasks, I take care of everything. Aude is mainly part-time. She takes care of delivery and production in these quarters of an hour.. For his part, Samuel is quite behind in the project. He gives us his support for deliveries, but it is Aude and I who make sure to work on the realization of the mission of the company.
The only plant-based diet is not always unanimous among the population. Has your community been resistant to your implementation?
The implementation within the region went very well. We don’t have very strong competitors in the community. This is a great asset, because we are pioneers in this field. In addition, many people are looking to cut down on their meat consumption. This is causing an increase in the demand for plant-based meals and at the same time our turnover. We can therefore say that our community has welcomed our products.
As a young business, what has been the impact of the pandemic on your business?
The pandemic has presented itself as a big slap in the face for us. We officially saw the light of day in January 2019 through our website. The format we had at the time was different from the format we were proposing now. We realized that this format was taking too much time and it is not profitable enough. Afterwards, we realized that Buddha bowls were very popular and that they sold better in grocery stores. We therefore decided to abandon online sales and focus on distributing Buddha bowls to five local grocery stores.
When COVID hit in March, every grocery store gave up on us because consumers had changed their spending habits. Overnight, we found ourselves without any customers. We had to make the decision to go back online. I had to design a new site urgently. It was important for us to have an online presence and to test the market again. The demand this time was greater. Currently, we have opted for a hybrid model. We sell our products online and in grocery stores. Both are working well so far.
Did obtaining the Ontario-Quebec trade price have a positive impact for the company?
Sure ! Many people have congratulated us and they are proud again. I am from Embrun and having decided to establish my business here, it is a great joy to promote my locality through this award. The community was very proud of me and we even appeared in the newspaper. Obviously this gave us a boost. We have done more interviews and this helps to increase the notoriety of the company.
Do you plan to take part in other competitions in the future?
If the opportunity arises, we will surely do more. For now, we are taking advantage of our price.
What are your long-term plans?
In the long term, we would like to get a bigger kitchen to supply our products to more stores. We would also like to serve all of Ontario and Quebec. For that, we want to be part of a chain of stores or a multinational. In addition, we continue to pursue our efforts to offer more online deliveries (we offer this service just twice a week). One of our goals is also to offer more products online so that the customer is able to order their groceries or meals for the week on our platform.
For those who would like to have access to your services, how can they reach you?
We don’t have a restaurant as such, so everything is done online. The best way to place an order is to go to our website. You can also go to one of our partner stores in the Embrun region and they will be happy to provide you with one of our delicacies. “
KYAN CUISINE’S KEY DATES:
2018 : Incorporation of the company
2019 : First official sale via the first website in January
2019 : closing of the first website in November and sale only in grocery store
2020 : reconstruction of a new website in March-April
2021 : Obtained the Ontario-Quebec Francophonie Commerce Prize
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