HOLR’s Health & Wellness Editor had the opportunity to catch up with the creators of the new craze taking Toronto by storm, and discover the inspiring story behind it all.
Committed to sourcing only the best ingredients and using the best process to produce a wholesome nutritious snack, Oh My Okra will leave you beyond satisfied. After trying them, they’re one of my personal favourites.
We always hear people talk about “doing what you love,” and this is a truly inspiring tale of doing just that; listening to your intuition, following the signs in the direction of your most blissful life. When you’re doing what you love, you do it with love.
The Holidays are the time of year where we tend to reflect on our lives; where we are, and where we’re going — most often feeling motivated for change, and excited for more. However, we let the reality of our current situation take the reins and slip back into the comfort of what we know, or what we believe is “comfort.” It doesn’t matter what’s been written in your story this far, it’s how you fill up the rest of the pages that counts.
“Do what you love” — words that we have displayed above our bookcase in our home office. A phrase that we have preached to others on numerous occasions, yet neither of us were fulfilling our own prophecy. Lori Carnale, founder, shares her story with us.
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Happy #WorldVeganDay! We’ll be setting up at @Pusateri’s again this weekend so come by and try Oh My Okra – A tasty, healthy vegan snack packed with tons of nutrients. ? ?Tomorrow we will be at Pusateri’s Yorkville location [57 Yorkville Ave], and at the Avenue Rd. [1539 Avenue Rd] location both Saturday and Sunday. ⏰Stop by either day between 11am – 5 pm. ?We hope to see you there!
“As I sat in the home office reading ‘What I Know for Sure’ by Oprah Winfrey, I found myself looking up at the words I so confidently believed in and felt like a total fraud. Both David and I had amazing careers. I worked for one of the largest police organizations in the country and David worked as a Project Manager building some of Toronto’s most luxurious condominiums. We were both working in what we believed to be our dream jobs, but something was drastically missing. The drive and passion for the careers we both thought we loved began to dissolve. As the years went by, our discontentment became too unbearable to ignore, and something had to change.
February 2016, David and I decided to take a road trip to South Carolina. We spent most of our trip in the beautiful, quaint town of Charleston. David and I are total foodies! We’re of Italian descent so our lives have always revolved around delicious food. We were told by one super friendly, local restaurant server that there was a large indoor farmers market every weekend during the summer months and definitely had to check it out, so we did.
As we walked through the farmers market, there was a man handing out samples of what appeared to be dried okra. David leaned over to me and said, “do you want to try a sample?” to which I foolishly replied “no, I’m good” and continued walking through the remainder of the display booths until we decided to call it a day. The next day, we decided to walk through the farmers market once again just in case we missed anything the day prior. The same man who was handing out the dried okra samples the day prior happened to be in the exact same spot handing out samples once again. David had taken a phone call from a close friend as we were walking by the okra stand and the gentleman standing there asked “Would you like to try a sample?” and this time, I said yes.
I took one bite and was instantly hooked. It was crunchy, delicious but most of all it tasted healthy. I bought two bags. Simply packaged in a thick, clear Ziploc bag. As David finished up with his phone call, he of course said “Oh nowww you wanna try the okra?” – Guilty!
David and I devoured one bag as we walked back to our hotel room and suddenly… inspiration ignited. This product would sell in Toronto. There is a huge market for individuals wanting to try new, healthy snacks. Let’s get it there!
Once we returned home, it was major research time. What is the history of okra? Where did it originate from? What are the health benefits? Is it available in Canada? After months of extensive research, we discovered okra was a tremendously underrated superfood vegetable that had tons of valuable health benefits. One specifically being that okra has been linked to help lower blood sugar levels in diabetics. It was at this moment when David and I decided to name our company after my father Umberto (Bert) who passed away in 2005 from a 30-year battle with type two diabetes. It was important for us to build a company based on honesty and integrity by introducing health-conscious, quality products that would ensure the faith and loyalty from our consumers.
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We will be at McEwan’s at Yonge & Bloor today from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 1 Bloor Street East. Come by and try a sample of Oh My Okra and meet the founders of Bert’s Foods. Reminder: Don’t forget about our long weekend contest for your chance to win a $50 gift card. Check our last post for details. #LongWeekend #Giveaway #Toronto
David and I continued working at our full-time jobs for two years while persistently developing the perfect okra snack to launch into the Canadian health food market. The following year, over the Christmas break, David and I discussed our business strategy and knew in our hearts that it was time to take the plunge. January 2nd, 2018 the first day back to work after the Christmas holidays, David handed in his resignation.
He was committed to working full-time on our new business venture and I was 100% on board. We had complete faith in one another and knew wholeheartedly that we were making the right decision for our future.
April of 2019, I resigned from the police force after thirteen years of service. As I was folding my uniform for the last time prior to formally handing it in along with all my equipment, I became extremely emotional. Was this a huge mistake? Giving up all the time off, seniority, benefits, salary and pension? Was I ready to give it all up to peruse the unknown? I decided to take one final look inside my uniform coat pocket to ensure I wasn’t leaving anything behind when I pulled out a 2004 dime. The year I started. The significance of finding coins – specifically dimes, is confirmation from our angels that we are on the right path. It was at that very moment when I knew for sure my decision to leave was the right one and I haven’t looked back since.
What we have learned during this entire experience is that our lives are a result of the choices we make. Once you have made the decision to release everything that no longer serves you a positive purpose, it allows for bigger and better things to enter your life. Believe in yourself, be fearless and remember that when it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you should jump, otherwise you end up staying in the same place your entire life.
July 1st, 2019 (Canada Day) ?? David and Lori Oh My Okra into the Canadian health food market. With the assistance of some incredible mentors and their team of distributors at LCG Foods and Avid Gourmet, Oh My Okra can now be found in 80 stores across Canada and online at Amazon.ca and Well.ca in under 4 short months.
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