Women Supporting Women in Food | Tara Tomulka of Rawcology
What’s the status of your business? Did you have to pivot, go online, temporarily close?
Rawcology is still operational as an “essential business”. We produce our products in our dedicated facility in Etobicoke which enables us to have full control over our production schedule. We are, however, operating with reduced staff at our facility. Right now only myself and two of our food production team members are coming into our facility on a regular basis. Our Operations Coordinator and Marketing Director are working from home until further notice. We have experienced reduced sales with some of our brick and mortar channels and are pivoting to focus our efforts on expanding online.
What’s been the hardest part of this pandemic for you?
The hardest part has been having to show up at our production facility with strength and a level head when you don’t feel so strong inside. My anxiety levels are high, I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions, and a lot of tears have been shed over the uncertainty, the lives lost, the hardships we are all facing and our worlds being turned upside down.
I am fortunate that we are a small team so we have not had to make any temporary layoffs but it’s been challenging making important decisions quickly, including the steps to take to ensure the health and safety of our team. Navigating our new normal and positively leading a team has not been easy.
While our online channels are doing well, including Amazon, NaturaMarket.ca and Rawcology.com, we’ve taken a hit in terms of slower sales with the distribution companies we work with and I worry about our future. We had a lot of exciting new retail listings on the horizon for 2020, including Metro, Sobeys BC, Marchés Tau, and more but now the status of these listings are up in the air.
What can we as a community do for you?
Support the small businesses you love, whether it’s purchasing their products or singing their praises to your community.
Show Rawcology some love by following us on Instagram, spreading the word about our products or consider contributing to our 1 for 1 Frontline Healthcare Workers Initiative. Our team wanted to show our gratitude and spread a little joy to all the amazing nurses, doctors and healthcare providers that are risking their lives and working tirelessly on the frontlines right now. In the past few weeks, we’ve donated over $15,000 worth of product to 20+ hospitals, retirement residences and Food Banks Canada. This is a huge deal for our small business and we are overwhelmingly appreciative for everyone who has supported this initiative.
Any support means very much to us more than ever right now - thank you!
What advice would you give women?
It’s difficult to show up right now and be the best version of yourself. We are most often our toughest critics, unnecessarily so. Have the courage to ask others for help, to speak up and never feel less than if things don’t go as you had planned. These are unprecedented times and we need to remember to be gentle and kind to ourselves. On the flip side, be there for your fellow females - check in on them (even the ones that always seem like they have everything together), write an email out of the blue giving them praise and let them know that you’re there for them to lean on.
What is your greatest hope right now?
My greatest hope is that this time will allow us to reflect on our personal impact on others and the world at large. Everything is connected and our actions, whether big or small, can have lasting impact. One of my closest friends and sustainability author, Sarah Graves, recently wrote the following regarding the pandemic and it’s something I keep on thinking about:
“I wholeheartedly believe that we’re being asked to wake up from our solemn slumber of a separate self; to stand in our darkness and light, and the contours between; to recognize the 1000s of ways that we touch, however invisibly, one another; and to renounce the systems that have kept us small and to re-learn what it means to look after one another.
There’s so much to make sense of, but of all the dangers we face, none will be so dispiriting as a deadening of action when the curve finally flattens. If COVID-19 is Earth’s clarion call for a more generous and generative life, intent on exploring a more connected and compassionate future, then we have to answer it: she’ll keep trying to reach us.”
What are the 3 things keeping you sane?
1. My family. I lean on them a lot to help with Rawcology - both my sister-in-law and sister are involved with the business, my husband lends a hand wherever he can, my Aunt helps with our graphic designs, my Dad is always my go-to person for business advice and other family members are always offering to help and are rooting for me to succeed. I realize I am incredibly fortunate to have family members who always have my back.
2. My dog, Archie, our red headed fluffy mini labradoodle who gives the best cuddles and brings so much joy to our home.
3. Dancing in my living room to Ryan Heffington's dance classes or listening to music I love.