The name of their company says it all: Kids Can Cook Gourmet.
For siblings Skylar Sinow, 12, and his sister Chloe, 10, being a kid isn’t a detriment to entrepreneurship and success. Next week, they hope to prove that even further when they pitch their growing pasta sauce enterprise during a taping of the Dragons’ Den TV show in Toronto.
“We’re super excited that we actually made it on,” said Skylar.
Their venture started last year on a year-long family trip to Europe in their camper van “Pippa.” As part of their homeschooling, the pair focused on their passions — Skylar’s is cooking and younger sister Chloe likes business planning. They visited open air markets and tasted fresh food while visiting their aunt and uncle who live in Germany.
“We were able to learn about cooking all along the way,” said Skylar. “I got really inspired by all the fresh markets and tasting different foods everywhere.”
After selling their own business, Skylar and Chloe’s parents helped cultivate their kids’ marketing and business skills. Watching her parents come up with a new business idea got Chloe excited.
“I thought that was really fun, so I started business-planning my own stuff,” she said. “And then when Skylar started developing food, it kind of developed into a business plan.”
Back in Canada, they sold their food at local markets and craft fairs while fundraising for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s Cook for the Cure. Word spread that the pair made good sauce and demand for it grew, eventually leading them to market it through local grocery stores, including Stong’s Market on Dunbar Street, their first client.
The duo’s sauce is unique because it’s completely kid-created and uses fresh, local, non-GMO ingredients.
“There’s no other ‘for kids, by kids’ pasta sauce on the market,” said Skylar. “We really want to support the new trend of farm-to-table and different food trends.”
Stong’s is giving Skylar and Chloe a send-off April 25 where their pasta sauces will be for sale. Five per cent of the sales will go to Vancouver Food Bank and Growing Chefs, a local charity aimed at educating children and families about healthy eating. Giving back is something the two said they “really believe in.”
Stong’s store manager Louis Campbell said he’s excited to have them promote their three kinds of sauces: tomato basil, marinara and creamy tomato, because their background in the food industry “goes a long way.”
“Plus they’re local which is fantastic,” he added. “And they’re really two nice little kids.”
Skylar and Chloe were the first kids to approach Campbell with an actual product to sell, and he liked that they were from the neighbourhood.
“It’s a feel-good story for our community and Stong’s is just happy to be a part of it.”
Skylar and Chloe are entering the Dragons’ lair with the help of celebrity restaurateur and Dragons’ Den member Vikram Vij, who has been their mentor. Vij told them about the upcoming episode, and the siblings entered not believing they’d make it on.
Success hasn’t come easily. Skylar said the biggest challenges have been balancing work with homework, getting their names heard and dealing with resistance because of their age.
“It’s kind of hard to overcome some of the downer people who say, oh we’re just kids, we can’t do anything.”
But they haven’t let it discourage them, and Skylar said that every spare minute they get, they’re working.
To prepare for the taping next week, Skylar and Chloe are practising their elevator pitch almost daily and trying to promote their products in different stores. Chloe said their friends are cheering for them. “A lot of them are really excited for us,” she said. “And to see our product in stores they’ll be able to say, I know those people.”
Skylar and Chloe hope to build a good team for their company and get more kids into the kitchen. Chloe said they want to show what kids are capable of and that not only grownups can be successful. “This product is building a movement to a healthier lifestyle and that kids can do this. It’s not only adults that have the ability to create businesses and do stuff.”