Meet Ginger Jars, Best Community Impact Winners – 2020

January 12th, 2021 in Finalist Profiles

Each year, more than 30 per cent of the food created in Canada ends up in a landfill or compost. This startling level of waste prompted Tim Bedford and Stephanie Heins to found Ginger Jars, a community focused business aiming to make a difference in food waste on a local level.

Ginger Jars takes the bruised, misshapen and perfectly ripe products from local grocers and turns them into delicious food offerings that are all hand made. Their soups last up to five weeks on the shelf unopened and refrigerated, while their reusable glass jars help to cut down on wasteful packaging.

Following their win at the 2020 Small Business BC Awards, we caught up with Tim to learn more.

What’s the story of Ginger Jars?

Ginger Jars exists to cut down on food waste. We had the idea for the business when we realized just how much food goes to waste in Canada that’s perfectly fit for human consumption.

What we try to do is reclaim food waste from the retail cycle and the farm cycle. Maybe the food doesn’t doesn’t look perfect, maybe it’s something that might be nearing the end of its shelf life. We take those products and we process them, do our own quality checks to make sure they’re usable, and turn them into products that can be sold back to the community through the retail cycle. An example of this is the soups we create that have a shelf life of five weeks. That’s perfectly good food that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill or compost.

A portion of our profits go towards the local food bank. You know, we were in discussions with the food bank early to see if we could give them product but they’re at the maximum they can process in terms of food, so they suggested a monetary contribution would be better to put some extra resources into their coffers.

What was your experience of the SBBC Awards like?

It was a surprise to us to find out we’d been nominated! It was a member of our community here in Gibsons that put us forward. We made it to the Top 5 and the pitching day. I teach cooking so I’m comfortable in giving presentations to large groups. That being said, I’m not a salesperson so it can be difficult to get up there and talk about yourself and your business in a sales-y way.

We had some technical hiccups during the presentation but it went well and it was such a pleasant surprise to win.

Even if you don’t end up winning, there’s plenty of positive outcomes to experience. You’ll get to meet new people, you’ll get recognized in a way you wouldn’t, and you’ll be able to access new professional circles. I think it’s extremely important for business owners to take chances like this.

What was the most rewarding part of the Awards process?

For me, it was getting to talk to so many other entrepreneurs that are in a similar situation to ours. Hearing their stories and getting to add them to our professional circle was really great. We were able to chat about the common things small businesses go through, learn from them, and build our network.

I’m a bit of a serial entrepreneur, I’ve started three businesses in the last four years, and just getting to hear other ideas and innovative solutions to problems was amazing. It helped me keep the entrepreneurial tool sharp so to speak and start thinking of other ways I can innovate in future.

Was your experience with the SBBC Awards worthwhile?

I think so. Yea, definitely.

For a lot of small businesses, the monetary outcome is not necessarily the outcome you’re going to get. The truth is, it’s only a tiny number of small businesses that take off and make millions of dollars, blowing up the owner’s bank account.

Typically, the rewards you receive aren’t to do with money. The SBBC Awards are the perfect example of this. Business owners can enter and get recognized for the hard work they’ve put in, the ideas you’ve had, or the innovation you’ve created. Typically, these businesses will stay small and it’s really nice to have a way for them to receive recognition that isn’t tied to how much money they make. It’s a level playing field.

What advice would you give to any businesses entering the SBBC Awards this year?

I’ve always been of the opinion there’s no such thing as good luck. In business, you have to take a chance on things or you won’t have the opportunity to enjoy a positive outcome. The Awards are the same idea.

Even if you don’t end up winning, there’s plenty of positive outcomes to experience. You’ll get to meet new people, you’ll get recognized in a way you wouldn’t, and you’ll be able to access new professional circles. I think it’s extremely important for business owners to take chances like this. We definitely didn’t expect to win, not even close to it.

We looked at the businesses that we were up against and thought there were some clearly above us. Turns out, our own assessment of our business didn’t line up with the reality. Now, imagine we had self-excluded ourselves because of that worry?

I’ll hand it over to Wayne Gretzky for my final thought on this – ‘you miss all of the shots you don’t take.’