30 Under 30: Katherine Backman is scooping up customers with Nora’s Non-Dairy

The brainchild that would become Nora's Non-Dairy Ice Cream was hatched on a family trip to Vancouver Island.

Katherine Backman, 29

Co-founder, Nora’s Non-Dairy

Life Story: The brainchild that would become Nora’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream was hatched on a family trip to Vancouver Island. Katherine Backman had spent years following in the footsteps of her psychologist mother (by majoring in psychology at McGill University) and her car dealership–owning father (working at lots in her hometown of Halifax and in Vancouver, where she moved in 2013).

But she’d never found those pursuits, or anything else, particularly compelling. In 2016, that all changed. “I became vegan, and it was the first time in my life I felt super passionate about something,” Backman says.

While on vacation the summer of that same year, she found herself eating a “dry, crumbly dessert” while the rest of the table was enjoying ice cream. “Everyone was making fun of me, looking over at my bowl with pity.”

So she, her partner, Tyler Bothwell, and their cat, Nora, set out to make cashew-based ice cream. They bought an ice cream machine and started recipe testing. It took eight months to get four flavours down, but they eventually debuted at a BC Food Processors trade show almost a year after that trip to Vancouver Island.

Bottom Line: The crowds that Backman and Bothwell attracted at the trade show weren’t a fluke. The pair have managed to get Nora’s into some 250 retailers in B.C. and Alberta, including Whole Foods Market, Nesters Market and SPUD.ca, and have sold more than 100,000 pints of their ice cream.