“Be healthier today than you were yesterday.” Following the hardest battle of his life, this became the mantra of Quinta Quinoa founder Jamie Draves.
In the early 2000s Jamie was diagnosed with idiopathic pancreatitis—a diagnosis that has no known cause, cure or treatment. After two surgeries and no answers, the specialists instructed Jamie to go home and take painkillers until the disease got the best of him. After talking to Jamie, one thing is clear: he is a fighter. As a father of two young boys, Jamie was determined to “not leave this world so early,” and took his health into his own hands. A journey of trial and error with a personal team of 12 led him to a solution to manage his illness: a restricted diet that focused primarily on superfoods. This was the beginning of Jamie’s business Quinta Quinoa, Ontario’s first homegrown quinoa. Jamie’s drive to survive is nothing short of incredible, with his creation of the finest quinoa in the world even more admirable. His story is just as authentic as the quinoa he creates, which is why we are thrilled to have Quinta Quinoa as our next #BrandsOnQ.
Jamie’s early goal was to help others that were struggling with their health. His initial plan was to create a frozen food line that was free of allergens, filled with superfoods and easily digestible. The main recipe, a delicious and now famous quinoa salad, was supposed to be the starting point to his business venture, Katan Kitchen, but there was still an obstacle to overcome. The star of the dish, quinoa, was being sourced from South America, where the quality was unreliable and inconsistent. As a result, Jamie decided to focus on local areas around him, and founded the first Ontario based quinoa company. His new company would have better soil, better economic practices and a higher nutritional value. It would produce “the super of the super foods.”
In 2014, Jamie’s business venture caught national attention after a successful appearance on Dragon’s Den. After a chance encounter at the Royal Winter Fair, one of the show’s producers asked Jamie to pitch his startup on camera, touting the quinoa trend as “kind of sexy.” His initial hesitation was no, due to the lack of a real product or brand at the time. “There are only downsides and risks to having one of the Dragons like Kevin O’Leary tear me apart on the show.” But at the last minute, his team decided this opportunity could not be missed, and Jamie was on the Dragon’s Den stage later that day.
Although Dragon’s Den shared Jamie’s story with millions of Canadians, there is something that Jamie credits as even more valuable: the locals. As the first Ontario quinoa brand, and with the new push for healthy eating locally, the Ontario community has become his biggest fan. The support was never something he anticipated when creating his product, but the support he receives has brought him a long way. “[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Saying that the local movement has helped] would be an understatement, it has been incredible and it’s something that I would not have predicted. We have individuals that have purchased our product and then gone around to stores in the area encouraging them to stock the product. It’s the local movement that has been really pushing it.” On his Facebook page, a quick glance shows how quickly the demand is growing; there are constant requests coming in from customers all over the province to get this quinoa in their local stores.
“The brand speaks for itself,” because it is the only super food brand that can claim six excellent nutritional values: iron, protein, magnesium, calcium, fiber and zinc. In continuing with the local theme, he chooses to use social media and his blog as his main form of marketing. This allows him to control the brand’s message, focusing on educating the social world on complete healthy living. Every day, he strives to make his brand the premium in his industry, and he encourages other small business to do the same. Through hard work and a clearly defined goal, Jamie has created a local quinoa empire, which continues to expand across our country.
Looking to get in contact with Jamie and learn more about his amazing product? After avoiding the Toronto area due to high demand, we were thrilled to learn that Quinta Quinoa will begin stocking its product in the GTA September. But until then, Jamie is continuing to work towards becoming the best and healthiest in the business. To see a list of locations that carry Quinta Quinoa, click here.
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