Opinion Women Who Lead

Spread’Em Beet Dip: My Catalyst for Change

Spread’Em Kitchen

Mellisa Mills is the Founder and CEO of Spread’Em Kitchen Co., a Vancouver-based company that creates delicious vegan dips and firm cheeze products from nourishing whole-food ingredients.

Throughout life, there are a handful of times where you are given the opportunity to reinvent yourself.  The chance to take a step back and take stock of your life. The chance to ask yourself, am I happy with the direction I have taken? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about this opportunity. Thousands of Canadians have been laid off or made redundant from their jobs and remain out of work. While this is undoubtedly an extraordinarily difficult time for everyone trying to put a roof over their head and food on the table, one of the positives that can be taken from this experience is that people have the chance to evaluate their career and life choices. It has given way to a moment for people to ask themselves if they’re content with the path they have chosen.

As someone that took stock of my own life and career path almost ten years ago, I can say with certainty that right now there is no better time to re-evaluate.

I’m the Founder and CEO of Spread’Em Kitchen Co. Spread ‘Em is a Vancouver-based company that creates delicious vegan dips and firm cheeze products from nourishing whole-food ingredients. 

For a company that’s about five years old, we’ve had tremendous success. Since launching 2015, we’ve seen business growth of 900 percent, starting out making just $128,000 in sales in the first year, to $2 million in 2019. Our company and products have grown a loyal customer base of foodies across the country.

We’re in grocery stores across the country, from BC and Alberta, to through the Prairies, Quebec and Ontario, going as far East as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. 

Taking it back ten years, I was working at Whole Foods in Vancouver, stocking shelves in the produce department. I had previously worked in graphic design, had two associate degrees, held numerous positions in the restaurant and hospitality industry. I was at a crossroads with what direction I wanted to take with my life and career. I did what anyone would do in this situation. I decided to take a break. I booked a flight to Australia and immersed myself in another life. 

I allowed myself to disconnect and find the joy in just living. This is when I tried a dip that would change my life. 

Australians are known for being trendsetters, especially in the culinary scene. It was in Australia that I tried a beet dip for the first time. A pureed spread made from cashews and roasted beets. That beet dip was three things that I had never encountered in something you can spread on a cracker. It was healthy, it was sustainable, and quite frankly, it was delicious.

I returned back to Vancouver and realized I couldn’t find a dip like this anywhere. So, I did what any innovator would do and I made it myself. Then, I discovered I was not only an innovator, but also an entrepreneur. So, I began to sell the dips.

At first, I was making these plant-based dips in my home kitchen. I was bringing them to weekend farmers markets and delivering them by bicycle. I slowly started to gain a following, with demand increasing and a limit on what I could supply.

I knew I had the makings of a successful business on my hands. I had a product that was in short supply, with few competitors in the market. What I learned from this experience is that we all have an entrepreneurial spirit, it just takes some harnessing to help it come to fruition.

Over the last five years, I’ve received tremendous business coaching and mentorship from the local business community. Particularly from female entrepreneurs. I’ve grown Spread’Em to a national company, that now works out of a large industrial kitchen, and works with an array of grocery companies and suppliers. 

As I look to pass my insights onto others, I know I have valuable advice that will benefit other people who have that one great idea burning inside of them.

My advice is simple, take advantage of time to think and live life. 

My idea stemmed from travel and exploration. We’re currently in the midst of a global pandemic. While travel is off the table for the foreseeable future, taking time to think and reflect is still allowed. Being an entrepreneur means creating space to invent. If I can pass any advice on to someone thinking about pivoting their career and making a change, it all starts with that first step of giving yourself the time and space to do so.