MOM CRUSH: Genevieve Gagnon

Genevieve Gagnon is a go-getter. Not only did she start her own granola company 15 years ago (Fourmi Bionique, which has grown and prospered tremendously), but she’s also the mom of three kids (who are 5 months old, almost 3, and almost 5). A self-starter and someone who loves routine, she rarely gets a day off but still says she finds solace in the time she gets to spend with her family.

So how did she create such a successful line of products on her own? And how does she balance it with motherhood? Read on to find out…

Tell us about your products.

We make family-friendly artisanal-style granola, cereals and blend. We’ve been in business for 15 years and I had the business when I became a mom, which means I had a running freight train already on the rails that I had to manage while being pregnant and raising kids. I had wanted to bring a homestyle granola to the mainstream. They have chocolate, nuts, caramel pieces, and they’re extremely nutritional. It was a way to introduce nutrition without being so strict.

How did you get started?

I started business out of the home. Today, I have close to 20 employees and we’re manufacturing 12 blends (nine regular granolas and three gluten-free). And we’re being sold in Loblaws, IGA, Metro… there are 1000 points of sale in Canada

Why did you want to start a granola company?

I had become interested in health and was working out a lot, and I had become aware of the organic movement 15 years ago. I saw this close relationship between nutrition and energy and wellbeing, so I realized how closely linked those were. I also had a yearning to start a business. My parents owned a convenience store, and both of my grandfathers owned businesses. I had worked in PR and communication, and knew I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted to put my passion and yearning to start a business together.

I’m the type of person who has to really start my day with breakfast, and the right breakfast can sustain you off till lunch. I had my own recipes and noticed there was nothing artisanal on the market, and I saw a niche there. I did fun blends that reflected my personality, and the goal was to please the average consumer and get them to eat more healthily.

How have your children helped to inspire your work?

It’s called “delegation.” I used to do things like my own accounting, but the more I have children, the more I delegate. I try and focus on where I add the most value in my business.

As moms the day can escape us, so what is your best time-saving trick?

I’m a really organized person in general, so I try and stay on top of things and don’t let things accumulate. I have friends comment on how clean my house is, but I make sure, at the end of the day, that the entire house is “reset.” I keep a routine going. I know if I lose the momentum it’s going to be hard to catch up.

What is your favourite part of your job?

I love to brainstorm about products ideas. We’re launching a gluten-free grain-free line, so I’ve been thinking, “How do I reinvent myself after coming up with nine different personalities of granola?” Each blend has their name and flavor combination, and I put a lot of thinking into what I do. I like to be inspired. I’m also working on revamping my snack line and looking for a name – using my creativity is what really keeps me going.

What do you do you do on a day off? Or do you even know what a day off is?

Right now I don’t get days off – I work every chance I get, but that doesn’t mean I step over family time. I don’t necessarily get a full day for the spa, but I’m going to get a pedicure this week so I don’t scare people off on vacation. I still do those things.

Any tips for moms thinking of starting a business?

The biggest asset of starting your own business is that you get to be in control of your schedule, which is what a mother needs. No one tells me when to have my meetings. At the same time, you have to have to the energy to do it. It takes a certain level of stamina to start a business. If you’ve got the stamina and have the energy, doing your own thing is extremely rewarding and allows you to be a better mother and more present with your children. You’re not trapped in an outside work schedule.

What is something you do with your child/children?

It’s constantly evolving. As a family we love travelling and going on vacation.

What is your go-to dinner?

For sure at my house St. Hubert is a winner, but at the same time, I can buy the barbecued chicken at the grocery store with fries. Everyone loves that.

What television series are you marathoning?

Game Of Thrones. I can do a season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, but I don’t get into every season (it annoys my husband to death but I like it – it’s like brain fast food).

What cartoon makes you nuts?

Lapins crétins.

What was the last book you read?

Good question. I was going through my library organizing it and came across The Power Of Now, which I’ve read, but I’d like to get back into it. It helped me focus, and I think if I read it again as a parent, it would have a new meaning.

What is your favourite family vacation?

We do two things a year: one is going down south to enjoy our summer clothes before it’s actually summer (we like to indulge in a Club Med in the winter), and in the summer we go to York Beach and rent a house with American friends. The beach is the common thread.

What is your go-to drink?

Probably a Pina colada – a virgin or with alcohol!