Meet Tara Tomulka, the beautiful brains behind Rawcology, a plant-based snack company that aims to educate and inspire people to eat delicious, nutritious plant-powered food.
Tell us a bit about your business!
Rawcology’s mission is to create revolutionary organic and nutritious plant-based snacks that reinvent the standard of healthy, packaged foods. Rawcology is the first of its kind on the market with four flavours of Superfood Coconut Chips that are always plant-based, raw, organic, nut free, gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free and school safe. Our goal is to help reduce dependence on snacks with added sugars by offering a way to consume delicious, refined sugar free and sugar free dehydrated snack options that are allergen friendly and rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fibre and protein. Our Superfood Coconut Chips are unlike any other snack on the market due to our unique flavours, production process and premium ingredients. We offer bold and delicious flavours, including Smoky Cheeze, Rockin’ Ranch, Matcha Latte, and Chocolate. Our unique production process involves dehydrating our coconut chips for 20+ hours at low temperature for optimal nutrition, crunch and flavour. We use only the highest quality ingredients and incorporate different superfoods into each flavour for added nutrition.
What was the “aha” moment that sparked you to pursue this?
Since I was in university, I knew I was going to start a business one day in a creative field. I didn’t know what it was going to be at the time but I knew I’d be fiercely passionate about it. My journey with Rawcology initially began when I felt unfulfilled in my corporate communications job. I was in a serious rut and knew I had to make a change. I started small by doing more of the things that I loved in my spare time after work hours: I took courses in George Brown’s Culinary Arts program, became certified as a raw food teacher and certified in culinary nutrition through Matthew Kenney’s Plantlab Culinary program. With all the knowledge I gained, I wanted to share this with others and so I started leading my own culinary courses and taking on private catering gigs. I realized I was in LOVE with this new world and knew that this was the only way for me to move forward. I then enrolled full-time at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition and become a Holistic Nutritionist. While in nutrition school, I decided I wanted to develop and sell healthier snack options. There’s a significant lack of healthy and delicious sugar free and refined sugar free snack options that provide optimal nutrition. I’m determined to provide a solution to this problem. This is my why!
If you could do anything differently, how would you do it?
I’m still working on reducing my levels of anxiety when life gets really busy. Self-care rituals like taking time for yourself in the mornings, such as meditating or going to the gym, often get thrown out the window during these times. Not taking this time catches up with me and impacts all aspects of my life. I need to make these rituals non-negotiable.
What do you do in your spare time to stay motivated?
Making a commitment to regular exercise is definitely one of the best ways to stay motivated. I love running and am training for a half marathon in February. Going to a yoga class at least once a week at Breathe Yoga Studio also helps clear my mind and remain motivated. I also use Aaptiv for most of my workouts. The app is a total lifesaver and I love that you can do workouts on the fly, even in your living room!
I also love to read in my spare time. While I like to read a range of genres, I naturally gravitate towards health and wellness books these days. I just finished up Four Sigmatic Founder Tero Isokauppila’s Healing Mushrooms book. I’m now reading The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate, and also The Magic of Believing. I usually have two books on the go at a time and swap back and forth depending on the mood I’m in. I also can’t forget all the spare time I spend reading cookbooks for inspiration. I have too many to count!
A good chunk of my spare time is also spent in my home kitchen. Playing around with ingredients and new flavour combinations always excites me.
Is there anyone in your life who has provided guidance or wisdom throughout your entrepreneurial journey?
My Dad is my #1 mentor. People always ask if my family supported my decision to change career paths. Absolutely! My Dad went through a similar situation that I did around the same age in terms of feeling unfulfilled with his career path. He had worked at a bank for years and decided he wanted to go back to school to get his real estate license. Family members and friends discouraged him from doing this, especially since my mom was pregnant with my sister (their first child) at the time. Regardless of their warnings, he decided to make the change and it was one of the best decisions he’s ever made. He went on to start his own real estate business and has had a successful career in commercial real estate, living life on his terms and creating a life he’s proud of. He’s inspired me to do the same and encourages me every step of the way
What do you do when you’re feeling “stuck”?
When I’m feeling “stuck,” I unplug from work and social media. In warmer months, I’ll go outside and spend time in nature to clear my mind. I live across from High Park and this is my go-to spot to turn to. In winter, I turn more to meditation and yoga to get back into the groove.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
The most rewarding aspect of what I do is receiving positive feedback from customers that our snacks and the community that Rawcology is helping to build is allowing them to live healthier lives without restricting them from enjoying the pleasure of eating delicious food.
When it comes to being an entrepreneur, what is the best piece of advice you ever received?
While working in my corporate communications job, a client once asked me, “are you happy with the position you’re in? Because I think you have a lot of potential to do anything you want to do. Know that you have everything you need to succeed.”
“You have everything you need to succeed.” This has become my mantra. Starting out in my career, I definitely had this fear of failure, was scared that the future might not turn out the way I wanted it to and maybe cared too much about what other people thought I should be doing. This mantra woke me up to start living from a place without fear, start believing in the infinite possibilities out there for creating a life you love and that the universe always has your back. I’m confident that with hard work, passion and persistence, good things always come. As an entrepreneur, mistakes are inevitable. I have already made several mistakes in my business but the funny thing is, great things have developed because of these mistakes (i.e a new product I’m working on)! Your belief as an entrepreneur is everything.
What is one skill you’d love to pursue and develop in the next few years?
Leadership. I’ve had many leadership roles over the years but as Rawcology grows, this is the skill I want to focus on. I want to cultivate a culture in which employees are continually inspired, feel valued and are contributing towards a cause bigger than themselves.
How do you like to unwind from a busy day?
I like to unwind from a busy day by putting my phone away, turning on music and making a nourishing dinner. I also like to take an hour of quiet time before bed to read a few chapters of my book with a cup of peppermint tea and a few drops of essential oils in my diffuser.
Do you have any passion projects going on at the moment?
My passion projects include developing and testing out new potential products, including sustainable products that repurpose ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste. More on this to come!
How would you like to see your business evolve over the next year?
Over the next year, I’d like Rawcology to introduce new products, become certified organic and become readily available nationwide by working with a food distributor. I’d also like to grow our team! Right now, I primarily wear all hats in my business including production, sales, business development, marketing and finance. The first role I hope to hire is for a dedicated Kitchen Manager to oversee our snack production so that I can focus on business development and marketing.
Most memorable moment you’ve had with a customer?
I was having one of those days as an entrepreneur when you second guess everything. “Why am I doing this? If I was still in my corporate job, I’d be making x amount of dollars this year, etc.” In that very moment, a customer called me to tell me they received their snacks in the mail and was blown away by how delicious and healthy the snacks are! The customer said she had to personally thank me to say how grateful she is to have found snacks that are sugar free and actually delicious. The customer has struggled with her weight for years, with sugar being a big culprit, and it’s been a challenge to find healthy alternatives. “Please keep doing what you’re doing,” she told me. This is exactly what I needed to hear and it reminded me that my mission does have the power to make a difference in the lives of others.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue something in the health & wellness industry?
You don’t have to have all the answers. I encourage you to get started right away but always remember your why. Know what sets you apart from everyone else and don’t underestimate the difference you can make.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What about the business?
In 5 years, I will be juggling starting a family with running a business. My hope is that I will continue to lead Rawcology’s team and that we are recognized as the leading raw, organic and allergen friendly snack company in North America. I believe we will be available in hundreds of retail stores across Canada and the United States and will have diversified our product line. We will have reached thousands of customers and inspired them to live healthier lives.