In the lead-up to Rise Up, we asked our ambitious female founders a few questions about their entrepreneurial journey and what inspires them. Meet Chloe Van Dyke, founder of Chia Sisters who produce a range of highly-nutritional health drinks and breakfasts.
Where were you born and where do you call home now?
I grew up in Whakatū and returned to start a business and raise a family with the mountains and oceans on our doorstep.
Tell us briefly about your work background before you decided to start your own business?
I had completed a degree in Neuroscience, postgraduate research on Alzheimer's disease, and a diploma in herbal medicine. I was interested in uncovering and scientifically validating the bioactives in plants.
How did the idea for Chia Sisters come about?
Back in 2012 my dad was a world champion swimmer and my sister Florence was competing for New Zealand in triathlons. They wanted something to fuel them through their training, something rich in nutrition, and there was nothing available. Chia seeds were the answer, full of the nutrients we tend to need more of in our diet such as magnesium, calcium, iron, omega 3, electrolytes, and fibre, but the catch was that they need to by hydrated for the body to absorb those nutrients. A drink was the answer and our first prototype blended hydrated chia seeds with local Nelson blackcurrants.
They can make a range of health claims that include assisting cognitive function, immunity, gut health, and energy. Since then the range has extended to include pressed juices, smoothies, and tonics while always incorporating our values. Our juicery is solar powered, zero carbon, climate positive, living wage, and B Corp certified.
What has been your biggest challenge in your entrepreneurial journey?
As any entrepreneur will tell you, it's a rollercoaster, the challenges are many and persistent. To name a few, we've had bottles fermenting and exploding, distributors close their doors without paying, and continual rejections from tenders due to the beverage duopoly in New Zealand. With time you get a bit better at handling disasters and rejection.
Who has been your biggest cheerleader along the way?
My sister and co-owner Florence Van Dyke.
What or who inspires you?
Long term, intergenerational thinking, and the youth that demand this of us.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Create a business that you are passionate about. If you are going to be doing something every day, and convince others to join you, being passionate helps.
Do you have any advice for female entrepreneurs in NZ?
Do it your way and harness your inherent skill set. You don't need to mold to any business model or character that isn't your own.
Running your own business must be hectic, how do you unwind?
The outdoors is my go to, commuting by bike, mountain biking, swimming, or tramping with my family.
What three things can’t you live without?
Family, books, and the outdoors.
If you won Rise Up, what would you use the money for?
We have three projects that this would support. One is trialling and upscaling the use of kegs for our pressed juice, this is part of our goal to eliminate single use bottles. The second is to facilitate our roll out of a new juice range in collaboration with Countdown, this range will use fruit and vegetables that would have otherwise gone to waste but are perfect for juicing. An example of this is our hail damaged pear juice where we saved eight tonnes of pears in one week from going to waste from the Motueka Steiner School farm, the proceeds of which helped to fund their biodynamic farm. The third is to support our entry into the United States in January where we have secured national distribution.
Due to Covid restrictions Rise Up will now be an online event, taking place from 3-5pm on Tuesday 23 November 2021. Please join us to celebrate and be inspired by some of Aotearoa’s fabulous female founders. Attendance is FREE and you can REGISTER HERE.