Amy Kizaki, 29
Co-founder and COO, Kitskitchen health foods
Evaan KherajLife Story: Amy Kizaki admits that before she co-founded Kitskitchen Health Foods, she had never made a pot of soup, the company’s product. If you identify a hole in the market and have a strong idea, a strategic vision and some operational experience, she says, you’ll be able to pave your path. Kizaki was born in Fukuoka, Japan, while her parents taught English there; she also grew up in California, Vancouver and Washington state, where she became a realtor at 18. The property business took her to New York, but she returned to Vancouver to become an operations manager and manage the syndication division at radio consulting firm Sparknet.
In 2013, Kizaki met Kitskitchen co-founder and CEO Joni Lind, who wanted to make health-conscious, locally sourced soup and was looking for a reliable partner. The two opened their business the next year, using sustainable ingredients and cooking in a rented commissary kitchen before outsourcing production to two Lower Mainland facilities. “We launched it at the same time as the local movement was becoming prominent,” Kizaki recalls.
First, though, she and Lind created buzz via Instagram. That caught the attention of Alexandra (Alex) Troll, co-founder of the Juicery Co. and a 30 Under 30 winner last year, who became their first official retail partner. They now sell their soups—fans include The Bachelorette’s Kaitlyn Bristowe—at some 70 stores in Western Canada, including Loblaws City Market, Urban Fare and Whole Foods.
The Bottom Line: If Kizaki and Lind can crack Eastern Canada and the U.S., they project revenue growth of between 185 per cent and 350 per cent for 2017. As of February, the pair was looking at potential partnerships or mergers that would help the company speed up its expansion plans.