Smak Dab mustard is one of the tastiest staples in kitchens across Manitoba. When I first met Carly at a Christmas Market, she was so full of energy– you could tell she was proud of her products and genuinely excited to meet and greet the faces of potential customers as they came up to her booth to try her unique and delicious mustards. Offering samples and fun conversation, I excitedly purchased my first jar of Smak Dab mustard. Now, my kitchen is regularly stocked with a jar of mustard that adds the ‘je ne sais quois’ to meals to take them from good to great!
We are so excited to share our interview with Carly! Her background as a Red Seal Chef, inspiring mission statement, and her unique viewpoint on work-life balance will give you whole new perspective on how to cultivate balance that works for you. Take a read below to learn more about Smak Dab Mustard.
How did you get started?
I started kinda “dabbling” in making mustard while I was apprenticing in a fine dining restaurant here in Winnipeg. I was inspired by my chef, and how she used mustard in such a versatile way in the kitchen and on her menus; salad dressings, meats, sauces… you name it! It was clearly a staple. I noticed that there were no locally made mustards on the shelves, so I thought I would give it a go! After I finished my Red Seal certification as a chef, I decided to leave the restaurant industry and try and sell my wares. So, I attended the St Norbert Farmers Market, and voila! The rest is history!
What is your mission statement?
We don’t really have a mission statement because I feel that our company’s vision is always evolving, but if I could give one right now, I would say; “To inspire, create, encourage, and support people to eat better, more delicious, and fulfilling food.”
“To inspire, create, encourage, and support people to eat better, more delicious, and fulfilling food.”
What are your values?
As a business, our values include authenticity, boldness, transparency, and loyalty. We want our customers to see our brand as something they can rely on and trust. We purposely chose to have clear labels on our jar to show that we have nothing to hide, and we are proud of it!
Tell us your experience as a female-driven business?
It’s been incredibly inspiring! I have to say, Winnipeg has so many female entrepreneurs, I feel like I am in good company!
Tell us about the trials and victories as a small business?
The highs are high, and the lows can be very low. But what I find challenging are the decisions you make, and make them wisely. The victories come from well thought through, sometimes risky decisions; but inevitably have a high return. The lows are much harder to swallow.. however, I find that the low points are when you work the hardest, you think a little more creatively, and when you learn the most. Every business goes through the ups and downs, but in the end, its how you grow and learn from your mistakes. I find that the low points are when you work the hardest, you think a little more creatively, and when you learn the most.
Every business goes through the ups and downs, but in the end, its how you grow and learn from your mistakes.
How do you cultivate work-life balance as an entrepreneur?
To be honest, I don’t really believe that a work-life balance is possible! The definition of balance means “an even distribution” or “equal proportions”, and to say that someone self-employed can achieve that is almost impossible! What I do believe in, is work-life integration. I first heard this from my friend Cheryl Zealand from Cranked Energy, and a light bulb went off in my head. The moment you realized that the perfect balance isn’t always possible, and start to mold your life into your family’s schedule, the less pressure you put on yourself, and the better you will be for it!
What has been the best part of being a business owner so far?
From day one, it has been such a rollercoaster! Yes, being a business owner has ups and downs, good days and bad, yadda, yadda… but I’ve never experienced something as thrilling, exciting, and fulfilling as owning my own business. It’s incredibly empowering. There is no doubt that it takes a village, but the fact that you can look back at the goals you’ve crush, dreams you’ve accomplished, and you feel like you are just getting started!
What are your goals for the future?
That’s a tough one because our goals are always changing! But I would say, within 5 years, we would love to have SMAK DAB across Canada and in some major retailers.
What inspires you?
I am constantly inspired but the ever-evolving food industry! I am always inspired by what’s in season at the farmer’s markets, and I love to create recipes using SMAK DAB to highlight those ingredients. I also love my monthly Bon Appetit magazines I get in the mail, full of colourful inspiration- gets my chef gears turning.
What pushed you to make the decision to pursue the life of an entrepreneur?
I think what helped my decision to become an entrepreneur, was that fact that I wanted control of my life again. I came from the restaurant industry where I had no days off, no holidays, no sick days, NOTHING. Not that being self-employed I get any of those things now (lol!), but it was the fact that I couldn’t control any of that, I felt stuck. Now, I feel like I have the freedom to work whenever, wherever, and however, I want. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how you want to live.
What is your current favourite product you sell and why?
Right now, I am really digging our newest flavour; Hot Honey Jalapeño Mustard! We launched it back in May, and it’s our best seller! I’m loving it on all the local veggies and meats from the farmer’s markets. (Check out our website for recipe ideas!)