Meet Vanessa Diab, founder of Freedom Jars, a shop that offers plant-based and gluten-free foods that are craveable and energizing! Freedom Jars has a mission is to make food that has a positive impact on our health & happiness.
So, let’s start at the beginning, how did Freedom Jars start?
When I was 21, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I suffered a lot from different symptoms such as extreme fatigue, terrible vision, drop foot, numbness and more. A few years later, I felt fed up with it all and had an epiphany. I thought to myself, “I’m tired of letting this disease control my life. It’s time that I take control of this disease!” That’s where my journey began of embracing plant-based and gluten free superfoods that were anti-inflammatory, energizing and nourishing. Amazingly, I saw my MS symptoms decrease at an AWESOME rate. Within 1 week of this new diet, I was a new woman! My energy levels were back, my brain fog was gone. It was incredible. And that’s when I knew I needed to keep embracing healthy foods. They were literally improving my quality of life.
This incident is what eventually inspired me to start Freedom Jars. Making healthy food FUN and not boring is what I was best at. I’m very aware that nowadays, inflammation is through the roof. People suffer from various ailments, and a lot of this has to do with a lack of a nutritious diet or an imbalance in their diet. I wanted to inspire others to eat healthy and to live a better life. So I set off to create breakfast jars that contain powerful superfoods and easily digestible ingredients that could help us stay focused, happy, and energized throughout the day.
Has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think the path is as easy or as hard as you make it. I truly believe that we are in charge of our own destiny, so if we harness a positive mindset, then we can harvest a positive outcome. Of course there have been many challenges as a business owner, but the following three mandates are what help me overcome my challenges with ease:
- Trust your instincts. Your gut feeling is always right.
- Know that you are human and you will make mistakes.
- Surround yourself with supportive people.
What Freedom Jars do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We make healthy food fun, exciting and craveable! I like to take those classic meals that everyone loves, such as apple pie, french toast or peanut butter with chocolate, and spin them to be healthy super meals full of vitamins, antioxidants and healthy fats. It’s guilt-free indulgence!
Who are the Freedom Jars customers?
I would say health conscious people. Whether you’ve been healthy your whole life, or you are just starting to think about improving your diet. Our customers are people who love food, but still want to nourish their body with the right foods!
Can you share where your inspiration comes from to create recipes?
That’s a really good question and a tough one to answer. I’m a person that loves to follow their instincts and gut feeling. So if I suddenly have the urge to try something new, I’ll just go for it. No questions asked. My creativity is not at all methodical.
For example, our Mayan Sunrise jar was first inspired by the colours and design. I knew I wanted a big strawberry as a circle and then I thought, “yellow would go really nice with this strawberry… what fruit is yellow and delicious?!” Other times inspiration comes from what I am craving (like the Peanut Butter Escape or the Island Caesar!) And more often than not, it comes from the four seasons. Our Orchard Crumble and Citrus Pumpkin Pie was inspired by autumn. Our Northern Gingerbread was inspired by Christmas and the holiday season. And our French Toast Riviera was inspired by the flavours and colours of spring.
Favorite perk of the job…
The food!! No just kidding… My favourite perk is to go into work and hang out with our team. They’re the best. They are so funny and positive. We are like a family.
How you clear your mind after a crappy day...
Breathwork and meditation. Nature and outdoor exercise. Yoga.
Best career advice you've ever gotten…
Always work on increasing your margins! The owner of the UPS store on King & Spadina gave me that advice in my first year of Freedom Jars. It was a casual quick little conversation between two strangers, but that one really stuck with me. You should always be looking for ways to improve your cash flow and bottom line.
What advice do you have for aspiring women entrepreneurs?
You’re a strong, fierce woman who is about to make a huge difference in someone’s life! Don’t ever dim your inner light because you are beautiful, talented and magnetic. You should be telling yourself that every day!
Secondly, I would say to always follow your truth. Sometimes we want to do something that others don’t agree with. And those people love to impose their views and opinions on us. But if you are being called to do something, I strongly suggest that you try it out. Because if you don’t, you may always be a little sad on the inside.