Addicted Inspirations: Julie Bednarski from Healthy Crunch Kale Chips

Here at Addicted we’re always inspired by a tale of someone turning adversity into success. So when we learned about Julie Bednarski and her story, we knew she would be a perfect fit for Addicted Inspirations!
Julie, a Registered Dietitian and chef, knew the importance of living a healthy life, both on a personal and professional level, but she harbored a heavy burden. For a decade Julie was secretly battling an eating disorder. Julie’s condition became so dire that she quit her job to to embark on a year long health journey. It was then that she was forced to reevaluate her life.
She knew her love-hate relationship with food was a longstanding one. Her love for food and her drive to get better helped her make the changes she needed to succeed, both at living a healthier lifestyle, and at discovering a new professional path. It all came down to the perfect healthy snack: the rejuvenated kale chip. And so The Healthy Crunch Company was born!
For overcoming her past struggles and moving on to building a nation-wide healthy food empire, we find Julie Bednarski to be incredibly inspirational. Learn more about her journey below:

What is your WHY? (The reason why you do the work your do)

 

I LOVE food! I’ve always been passionate about food, nutrition, and overall wellness. When I was a child, I would often “play” around in the kitchen, creating my own recipes. I’ve always had a deep passion for re-creating recipes, making dishes healthier but still tasting good. I love seeing the reactions of people, making them happy when they eat my food.

After becoming a Registered Dietitian, I decided to follow my dream and go to culinary school in New York City. Going to NYC changed my life, as I realized working in the culinary world was my ultimate destiny. After working in various restaurants throughout North America, I realized that I wanted to be closer to my family in Toronto. When I moved back to Toronto in April 2014, I was looking for a new challenge. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and always knew I wanted to create my own food business and food product.

I love snacking on crunchy foods, however there are only so many carrot sticks and nuts you can eat. I found kale chips at the store one day and thought what a great idea! I can get my crunch on while also eating my greens – kale. I started to buy kale chips from various suppliers, and noticed that the kale chips on the market often lacked qualities I wanted in my kale chips. All of the kale chips on the market would crumble into small pieces, they didn’t have bold flavours, they were small in size and often they were not crunchy. I decided to start recipe development for what I thought would be the ultimate kale chips, making sure they met all my needs. After having all my family and friends taste my kale chips, and researching all kale chip competitors, I knew I had a great idea and that’s when The Healthy Crunch Company started.

Fast forward 2 years later, and The Healthy Crunch Company has six flavours of kale chips in multiple size packages and we sell our products throughout Canada. The reason why I do what I do is because I love to make people happy with great tasting food that is also good for you!

 

What is the biggest challenges / setbacks you’re had to face?

Being an entrepreneur is not easy and not for everyone. There are long hours, lots of stress, and money is always a critical issue. Over the last two years, The Healthy Crunch Company has grown at a rapid rate, which is exciting. We have been able to secure our products in many of the large grocery chains, however we still don’t have the capital to hire additional staff. This has been a challenge for us, as our core team has to wear multiple hats to get the work completed. This has also been a challenge for me, as I did not go to school for business. I studied nutrition and culinary arts, so when it comes to finances, marketing, branding, trademarking, packaging, hiring, sales, distribution—I had to learn all these skills as my business progressed. It has not been easy, but the one thing about being a successful entrepreneur is that you are able to learn fast, be flexible, multi-task and get the job done.

 

What are some of the successes (big or small) you’ve had?

There are so many milestones of success that I have had with The Healthy Crunch Company. No matter how big or small, all my successes seem large to me. Some of my most memorable successes are finalizing and completing my own manufacturing facility, seeing my new packaging on store shelves, hiring my first full-time employee, and seeing my product on TV for the first time. My biggest success is having our products sold at Starbucks Canada locations. I worked really hard to get the Starbucks account and I recall the first time I saw our Healthy Crunch Kale Chips in a Starbucks location, it almost brought tears to my eyes to see how all my hard work has paid off.

 

What piece of advice would you give to someone trying to do what you do, or trying to follow their own dreams.

First, I would recommend that you truly believe in your idea and dream. Put yourself where you want to be and believe it!

I would also highly recommend doing your research of the industry that you want to go into, as well as doing a business plan. One of the most critical aspects of when I first started my business was that I knew my competition inside and out. Prior to starting my business, I did an extensive competitor analysis on all kale chip competitors in the world. I knew my industry very well which has helped make our company unique from our competitors. Having a business plan is also critical; have a plan of how much the business will cost to run and what needs to be completed for success.

 

If you had one wish to help make the world a better place, what would it be?

Nutrition and hunger is really close to my heart.

I love educating people about their health—especially what foods are best for the body and how they can create and maintain a healthy way of life. People often think that healthy food is expensive, however it can actually be cheaper than buying prepared meals. The types of food we eat are critical for leading a healthy and happy life. If I had one wish to make the world a better place, I would wish to have more access to food and education so people could learn how to prepare meals for themselves. If everyone could have greater access to whole, real, healthy foods, the world would be a happier, healthier, and better educated place.

 

If you could pick one charitable organization to ask our readers to donate to or volunteer with, which would it be?

I am very passionate about health, food and happiness! I would suggest donating or volunteering at local food banks, especially during the holiday season.

 

For more information, please visit www.healthycrunch.com

To connect with Julie Bednarski, you can email her at hellojulie@healthycrunch.com

Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly is a Toronto based writer with a serious addiction to music. Corporate drone by day, renegade rocker by night, writing is her creative outlet. Nadia has written for the Examiner (.com) on live music in Toronto and Indie Music in Canada, and was a weekly columnist for Don't Believe a Word I Say. She has never been in a band but plays an awesome air guitar and also the tambourine. Nadia is the co-founder, Managing Editor and resident Music lover (and editor) for Addicted.
Nadia Elkharadly

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