Eve Laird, 29

Founder, Eve’s Crackers

Life Story: Raised in Nanaimo, Eve Laird found herself working at a Whistler art gallery after studying art history at McGill University. But it wasn’t a good fit, and she was soon looking for something else. That something became two things, as she began working at both Lululemon Athletica and Purebread bakery in the mountain town. “I always loved food but got a taste for what it’s really like to work in the service industry in food, and loved that, too,” Laird says. “And then working on the floor at Lululemon–just a good company to work for.”

Those gigs slowly led to another job–working part-time on her dream of producing a gluten-free, plant-based cracker. She developed a recipe for three different flavours (black sesame, chili-pepper pumpkin-seed and savoury sunflower), moved to Vancouver and started hand-making the crackers with her engineer sister, who became a partner.

An appearance and subsequent deal on Dragons’ Den (brewery maven Manjit Manhas said her product tasted like birdseed but also tried to invest) helped grow the brand, but Laird maintains that “boots on the ground” was the most effective strategy. “For us, it was about creating relationships, following up, going into stores and doing all those grimy tasks that seem un-scalable, but they really are.”

Bottom Line: Eve’s Crackers are in about 500 locations across Western Canada, including Safeway, Save On Foods and Whole Foods Market. Sales reached the high six figures in 2019.