Photography by Tanya Goehring
So, in May 2020, Goodman made the difficult decision to halt production. “There was no way I could scale the business with what I was working with, and COVID had also just started,” recalls Goodman. “I took a pause because I needed to figure out how to grow the business in a better way.”
During that time, Goodman recalled some advice she received from food industry veterans. “I was told so many times, ‘if somebody else has the equipment, the staff and the space to do what you’re doing, use them. Don’t reinvent the wheel,” she says. So, Goodman partnered with a co-manufacturer in California, placing a 1,000-pound order with an intended relaunch for January 2021.
The order, however, didn’t turn out as Goodman expected. “The pit in my stomach was so deep,” she says. “They had overdried them, and they had also used fruit that wasn’t ripe enough. They were really sour and inedible.”
Thankfully, the co-manufacturer took ownership of the off-batch and remade the order for a February 2021 relaunch in 75 stores. They’d be back at Whole Foods, Nesters and Choices as well as a handful of independent health food stores.
The growth of Goodman’s business has been steady ever since. By the end of last year, Chiwis were available in 385 stores, mostly in British Columbia. She also introduced three new SKUs to the lineup: pineapple, mango, and orange chips.
Keeping the momentum going, earlier this year, Goodman launched in 85 London Drugs stores in Western Canada. In the spring, she made her first two full-time hires: an operations manager and a marketing manager. Save-On-Foods came on board in May, extending her reach in the Western provinces, along with adding distribution in Yukon. The summer of 2022 also saw Chiwis go national thanks to a launch in 7-Eleven. By the end of August, Chiwis will be in more than 1,000 stores.
Goodman is now focusing on research and development with plans to introduce more products in 2023. Around the same time, she hopes to launch in the U.S. Pacific Northwest with a digital marketing campaign focused in Washington, California and Oregon.
Now that her business is getting off the ground, Goodman is paying it forward to other entrepreneurs seeking advice. “I was so lucky that people gave me their time when I was beginning and I got to learn so much so fast,” she says. “The food industry community is amazing.”
This article was first featured in Canadian Grocer’s August issue.