It’s that time of year again – The Wellness Show! One of my staple events, TWS is a great way to scope out new trends in health & wellness at the start of the year.

I have been a fan of entrepreneur Lori Joyce since the Cupcakes days, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her ahead of her Women Empowering Women panel talk at this year’s Wellness Show about her more recent role as CEO of Betterwith Ice Cream. I like to think of myself as a bit of an ice cream connoisseur, as it’s been my dessert of choice since childhood. So when I saw the full-page ad for Betterwith in Alive Magazine prior to its launch and its “100% Honest Ice Cream” tagline, I got uber excited and started stalking Lori on LinkedIn, because to my knowledge, Vancouver didn’t have any locally-sourced grocery ice cream brands we could call ours. Next thing I knew, it was at my supermarket, and the staff person at The Pie Hole was talking it up when Leo & I were buying pies for our Twin Peaks-watching rituals. As you’ll see when you purchase a pint, Betterwith has “traceable cream” as its top ingredient, and a quote from Lori – and I don’t remember the last time I saw a company owner’s guarantee on a product.

Also, women are kicking ass in all industries lately, and we gotta continue to ride this train and support each other!

The interview

What inspired you to start Betterwith?

A few things.
My kids.
Bad ice cream in the grocery stores, and my upbringing.

When my babies started eating solids, I started reading ingredients labels for the first time. I was shocked when I discovered that what I was buying wasn’t even ice cream, but frozen dessert. Plus, the ingredients deck was loaded with words that I didn’t recognize. I started my life on an organic farm, and my first and only milk source came from my own cow. In the 70’s, the latest news was that mom’s breast milk wasn’t good enough for their babies, and since my mom didn’t speak any English at the time, she followed what people told her. Therefore, my parents decided to get a cow and I was fed raw milk, straight from the pail.

Was starting the business an easier journey given your previous experience in food?

The best way that I can explain this, it’s like having a second baby. You know it’s going to be hard and that it’s going to hurt. As much as you think you’re prepared, you’re not because all childbirths are different. This has been my experience with starting a second business.

What new challenges have you faced or are currently facing at Betterwith that you hadn’t in your previous business?

Well firstly, experience. Building a grocery brand product is completely different than opening a retail brand concept. In 2002 when we opened Cupcakes, we had 1,000 square feet on Denman Street where we could invite customers into and give them a unique experience that smelled sweet like heaven. We had a lot of fun in that space, and from there the culture of Cupcakes evolved, organically. In grocery, this is almost impossible, especially as a start up when marketing funds are limited. So, this is a big difference.

 

Another big challenge is the reality of the scope of my competition. I am a very new, small and local start up. My competition mainly consists of global food companies that have been around as long as I have, since the ’70s – Haagen Dazs, Island Farms, Unilever Brands, private label grocery brands like Safeway, etc. The challenge here is, how do I convert customers that have grown up satisfied with these brands? I believe that over time, perseverance and persistence with effective marketing will work and earn Betterwith more shelf space.


Vancouver’s a big food town, and as you mentioned, we’ve got a lot of ice cream shops and brand options. What do you think will make Betterwith stand out from the rest?

My competitor is Haagen Dazs and this is who I hope to take shelf space away from. But regarding the local food and ice cream scene in Vancouver, you’re right, it’s strong. Very strong. And Vancouverites deserve this. This elevates the standard.

What flavours do you have now, and what’s coming in the future?

Betterwith is a classic ice cream brand. Currently the 6 flavours are Cream, Vanilla, Strawberry, Caramel, Chocolate and Coffee. In regards to more flavours in the future, it will stay true to the brand. My goal and focus is for Betterwith to be top in its category with the best classic flavours. Look out for nut-based flavours in the near future!

Where can Canadians buy Betterwith?

Currently Betterwith is available in Western Canada in stores like Whole Foods, Nesters, Choices, SPUD, IGA, Thrifty Foods, Fresh Street Market, etc. and some Safeways. Plus, Betterwith is available in local gourmet shops like Gourmet Warehouse, Dalina and Meinhardts.

Given the widespread knowledge about animal mistreatment and many people choosing non-dairy ice cream brands due to both health and ethical reasons, can we expect to see non-dairy flavours anytime soon?

Traceable dairy was my number one priority and I didn’t launch Betterwith until this was achieved. It took me over 2 years to find the right farm. Traceable dairy is the foundation of Betterwith. It is the standard in which we hold the farm and Farmer accountable. Since I grew up on a farm, I understand this, and therefore am very aware and respect the critical importance of animal welfare.
Since Betterwith is a small company, I think its vital to keep connected with the customer, and understand the needs of the customer. And if that means Vegan options, then we will explore Vegan options. However, it is a lot different being a grocery brand versus a retail brand. And what the customer is asking for in grocery, is very different than what they want in a retail environment.

 

What can we expect you to talk about at the Women Empowering Women Panel at The Wellness Show?

Honesty and traceability. I look forward most to the discussions that transpire organically. Sharing and connecting with the audience is a lot of fun for me.


The 2018 Wellness Show takes place on Saturday, February 17, and Sunday, February 18 at the Vancouver Convention Centre (East). Lori joins best-selling Author and health expert Tosca Reno and Fitness expert & coach Aeryon Bela Ashlie on Saturday, February 17, 2pm for the Women Empowering Women Panel, sponsored by Fresh Magazine. Find tickets and information at thewellnessshow.com.

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