The Walleye Magazine
Jenni Ritchie, CEO, Superior Bakes Inc.
Meet Jenni Ritchie, health nut and CEO of Superior Bakes. From a young age, Jenni was always active and saw great value in living a healthy lifestyle. Jenni’s mom worked as a personal trainer for most of Jenni’s childhood, and in 2011 her family opened a gym. Working with her family at the gym, Jenni saw an opportunity to start her own nutrition business, as clients at the gym started asking her to make healthy food for them. With her background in nursing and love for living a healthy lifestyle, it seemed like the perfect fit to start Superior Bakes. Superior Bakes opened in February 2018 at the Thunder Bay Country Market, and when Goods & Co. Market opened just last year, Jenni moved into her permanent space there. To learn more about Superior Bakes, follow them on Facebook or on Instagram @ superior_bakes.
What drew you to entrepreneurship?
I never really intended to start a business. I was working at my family’s gym doing personal training, group classes, and running the nutrition program. I had a Facebook group and was posting lots of recipes. One day, a client asked me if I would make it for them and really that’s how things got started. My brother suggested I make a website, and within a few months I had taken on a booth at the Thunder Bay Country Market. We basically grew from there, taking on various retail clients and branching out into NWO and Manitoba. In 2021, we opened our store inside Goods & Co. Market and it has been so fun to be there! I think what I love most about entrepreneurship is being creative and knowing that every day something new and different is happening. I love meeting all our customers and being connected to the local food space here in Thunder Bay.
What inspired you to launch your business?
I was inspired to create healthier options to traditional sweets because I knew I wanted to feel my best and still be able to enjoy all the things! It drove me crazy that there was never anything healthy available that both tasted good and was made with quality ingredients. I didn't want to compromise on either end! I felt that it was important for not only my clients who choose to eat a certain way but also those who maybe needed to, for reasons like diabetes or celiac disease, to have a great product. I had been experimenting in the kitchen for MANY years just trying out different flours like almond or coconut and substituting stevia for sugar. It can sometimes be a tricky process to substitute but after a lot of trial and error, we've come up with some amazing recipes and we feel super lucky to be able to share them with our customers.
Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently when you were first starting out?
I’m a highly competitive and goal-driven person, so I always want to push as hard as I can in all aspects of life, including business. Initially, I wanted to be big right away! It took me some time to appreciate being really good at a small or side business in order to create longevity and iron out all the kinks. It’s still something I’m working on! It can be really easy to undermine all the time and effort it takes to have a successful business.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to become an entrepreneur? What advice would you give yourself?
Be patient! Things don't happen overnight, but being consistent and staying focused on whatever your values and mission statement are is key. Business is certainly not a straight line but remaining focused, listening to your customers, and pivoting when necessary are all important. I also think it’s incredibly important to have a strong team. I have so much appreciation and value for our staff and they are an integral part of everything we do. I try very hard to include them in decision making and goal planning so they can also enjoy the journey. Sometimes they can look at something from a different angle and give us a new idea for a project.
What are you working on now?
Right now we are working on getting our cake mixes on the Amazon platform and completing some shelf-life testing on our protein balls. We have a small rebrand underway and some new packaging, which I am super excited about. We absolutely love being part of Goods & Co. Market and having the space to create new recipes and ideas. We feel so lucky and fortunate to be surrounded by so many incredible entrepreneurs.
Is there anyone specific you would like to thank?
It was definitely my brother who pushed me to get started, and my mom who has set a great example of what hard work looks like. They are definitely the ones I call when I need a sounding board or advice. Of course, our amazing customers who support us each and every week. We wouldn’t be anything without them! They are the centre of it all. And my team, who represents us and works very hard to make product, serve all our customers, and help move our business forward :)