With help from Arlene Dickinson, Aura Nutrition is looking to rebound from COVID-19

The Coquitlam-based company is back on its feet after a tough year.

Credit: Aura Nutrition

The Coquitlam-based company is back on its feet

It would have been easy for Kate Marshall to throw her hands up in the air and let Aura Nutrition die out after the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the all-natural food and supplement provider she runs with three partners.

The North Vancouver native also has a side business as a personal development coach, but after launching Aura in 2018, she was determined to get the business back off the ground in the virus’s aftermath.

“We took a really big hit,” Marshall admits of her Coquitlam-based team that was reduced to just two staff members. “We were just going to year two of the business as a new health and wellness brand that relies on events and trade shows and large online marketing spends. We basically got cut off from all of the ways customers would typically experience a new brand, sampling, that type of thing.”

Marshall hopes and expects that Aura will soon get back closer to double digits in staff as the world opens back up slowly. At the moment, the company is in 80 stores across Canada, including Whole Foods and London Drugs, the latter of which sells Aura’s Cleanse hand sanitizer. There are also imminent plans to go into the U.S.

Through all of that, Marshall and company were selected into the 11th cohort of Dragons Den judge Arlene Dickinson’s Venturepark Labs Accelerator program.

“It’s been a very exciting process,” says Marshall. “I love it because the program has graduated 10 cohorts now and over 65 percent of the alumni are women-led businesses. Obviously I love that and Arlene does too, which is awesome.”

It’s also been fairly intense, as Aura’s founders are going through training in the realms of finance, accounting, organizational structure and business design.

“Basically it’s like a business plan but skyrocketed, because you’re learning from these professionals who have so much industry experience,” says Marshall. “Last week, we had a live pitch with the main Sobeys buyer across Canada—eight minutes to pitch our brand and why we should be selected as one of the few brands that Sobeys takes on their shelves. All these opportunities, and you get to network with other brands as well.”

Marshall has always believed in the principles of a balanced, healthy lifestyle and she sees a future for Aura in helping people achieve that.

“I’d love Aura to be a globally recognized brand at some point—there’s brands like Vega, which started as a little Vancouver company, and their story is so incredible, my dream would be to follow a similar path as a company like that,” she says, noting that the company is looking for early stage investors.

“At the end of the day, our tagline is connecting women to wellness globally. We want to have a massive impact in women’s lives.”