Interview with Saturday Market Vendor Claire Ryder aka "Kale Chip Claire"
"I nurture the kale and the kale nurtures me."
High Vibe Foods
Describe your business:
Mostly kale chips, kale chips and kale chips. There's also sprouted seed crackers and dehydrated fruit of whatever's in season.
I figured out how to make a by-product. By-products are one of the ways you can pay for help. It's with the kale chips getting ground up and added to toasted sesame. Kale-masio, like gomasio from Japan. It was an amazing boost because, those little crumbles used to be put at the bottom of the kale chip bag, but then I made a new product from it. I use that money to pay a helper, so I didn't have to pay out of my own pocket. That was a definite way to boost the business.
I made up all my recipes 10 years ago. I was working in a health food store and selling dehydrators. I asked the owners if I could use one of them and make samples of what can be made to show the customers.
Out of generosity, I discovered kale chips before they hit the market. I was giving people samples of kale chips to show what the dehydrator could do. People would come back in, but for the kale chips instead of the dehydrators! When that happened... the light went off.
Some of the subtle things sometimes just go by, but when you're really hungry for making a business and listening to what people are saying, they can guide you in the direction you want to go.
I ended up buying a dehydrator, then two, then doing weekend markets and selling kale chips full time.
I also grow my own kale which is a big part of this business. It makes the whole circle connect.
Why the business named High Vibe Foods?
This is raw living food. It's dehydrated, not cooked. It's for people who eat raw diets, which I've done before for a little while. When I did, I just got kind of high. Keeping your high vibrations alive. High vibes.
What's your favourite product?
Kale. Because, I grow it and it's so good for you....It's by far the queen of greens. When you have something that nutritious and people put it in their mouths and they just go 'ahh,' it just gives you such a good feeling that you're putting something really good out there for the people.
A very big part of my business are the samples. People taste it and know they like it. I'm feeding the world healthy food and it makes me feel good to see that. To see what a bite of kale can do to people.
Kids love it, 98% of them. And, these kids don't like greens. When they're taking a bite of kale (chips), it's like taking eight bites of kale because it's dehydrated and concentrated.
I've made up all my recipes and never learned any of this. I never had a teacher, so I made a lot mistakes along the way, it was a good learning curve for me.
Favourite part of business:
I love the growing. It gets me outside and I get to enjoy being in the earth. I nurture the kale and the kale nurtures me.
Also, giving samples is one of my favourite parts because I see the affect it has on people.
My products are all organic. I don't use nuts because of allergies, or gluten, flour, and sugar. I like to help people with special diets.
Advice to anyone starting out:
Listen to what people want. Not in a scattered way where you're trying all these new things all the time, that wouldn't be too grounded. If you look at the consumers there's always somewhere where you can fit in where no one else is.
Walk through the market, see who's already there. Think about a particular area where you could fulfil something.
It's very interesting, the connection between me and the customer. It's great to see the impression that's right in front of you.
You can see Claire at the Salt Spring Saturday Market or email email@example.com