At 5 a.m. when most of us are blissfully sleeping, Alesha Davies of AJ’s Organic Catering is in her industrial-sized kitchen getting breakfast ready for her clients around Victoria. She provides fresh organic breakfasts, lunches, and catering using locally grown produce. “Everything we purchase and provide is done with the environment and taste in mind,” says Davies.
“It took about three months of door-knocking on local business and government departments to get enough business to make it a go, but now I am busy all the time, which is wonderful,” she says.
Formerly a Montessori teacher, Davies took a leave of absence from teaching and got some business advice to establish AJ’s. “Without any business experience, I knew I needed some help and turned to the Women’s Enterprise Network in Victoria. They helped with the business plan and really put me through some hoops to get it right, but it has paid off. And I still belong to their mentoring group.”
She says finding the right kitchen was an interesting experience. “Oddly enough, I found it on usedvictoria.com.”
Davies’s green efforts are paying off in recognition as well. AJ’s won the WEN award in the category of eco-entrepreneur in 2009.
“Everything we do is geared towards providing local and organic food to our clients and providing the smallest environmental impact as possible,” she says. “In fact, we only have one small garbage bag at the end of each week. This is easier said than done.”
Marketing is mostly word of mouth but social networking sites such as Facebook help to get the word out, and now AJ’s counts about 90 “friends,” including Mayor Dean Fortin and the Green Party, she says. “I know it is all about networks and we work with local producers and suppliers.”
The future looks promising. In the next few months, she is opening up a café in the new Atrium building on Blanshard Street and plans to grow the business so there is an AJ’s Organic Catering operation in more communities across Canada.
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