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Spotlight on the Impact Machine: Made with Local

Using her Powers as a force for good: Meet Sheena Russell, Founder and CEO behind Made with Local.

“A decade into creating our delicious, nourishing foods, we’re seeing that the world is catching up to something we’ve always known to be true – that purpose-led business is the way of the future.”

Every April, to commemorate Earth Month, leaders, and environmental activists come together to diversify, educate, and activate the sustainable movement and offer solutions to restore our planet’s health and resources. Made with Local is leading the fight towards a green revolution and the health of future generations by creating a positive ripple effect for both the people and the planet. 

How Made with Local got Social Impact baked in!

“Social entrepreneurs are creating a new paradigm for capitalism, where individuals or organizations create innovative solutions to social problems and aim to achieve social impact by balancing their social objectives with financial sustainability.”

Made with Local was founded in 2012 as a five-foot table at a local farmers’ market in Nova Scotia, with a mission to inspire conscious consumption through community connection, storytelling, and food. Laser focused on creating a positive impact, this B corp is addressing various Sustainable Development Goals: SDG3: Good health and well being, SDG8: Decent work and economic growth, SDG11: Sustainable cities and communities, SDG12: Responsible production and consumption, and SDG13: Climate action.

“Made with Local was born and raised at the farmers’ market with community connection woven deeply into our DNA.”

In today’s digitally connected world, Made with Local is reminding us of our connection with our communities and the food we eat. They believe that getting to know the people who grow our food can be good for our body and our mind, and can help us strengthen our connection to our roots.

Made with Local’s Real Food Bars and Granola Bar Mixes are made with ingredients sourced right from farmers’ tables across the country – there is Tom Cosman, the honey supplier providing delicious honey for the bars, David and Evelyn Ernst, the cranberry farmers, and friends at Nuts to You and VanDyk’s Blueberries who provide nut butters and superfood berries!

“Made with Local has been fortunate enough to experience demand-led growth through our journey from farmers’ market to national retail. Over the last decade, we’ve grown into a Certified B-Corp snack company available in thousands of locations across Canada and the US!”

At the base of their brand and impact, are the three pillars that Made with Local stays true to: local food systems, community building, and inclusive and equitable employment. As a Certified B Corp, they hold themselves to the highest standards of sustainability and social responsibility. B Corp’s third party assessments keep them in check across five key pillars: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. Throughout their journey, Made with Local has remained dedicated to using ethically, transparently sourced ingredients, strengthening the local community, and prioritizing real, nourishing foods.

“We’ve started as a snack bar company but have BIG plans to push beyond that category in 2023. We’ll be bringing several new product lines to market and plan to grow our D2C business in Canada and the US! Stay tuned!”

To tackle their challenges of navigating production capacity, Sheena talks about how they have now built their own manufacturing facility which has been operational since 2022. This has helped them unlock lots of capacity, control, and the ability to innovate quickly, which has been a game changer.

The Hungry Mind Behind Made with Local: Sheena Russell

Sheena Russell, who started her career as a Sustainability educator, stumbled upon entrepreneurship accidentally. After realizing that her weekend adventures and immersive weekdays were fueled by mass-produced snack bars, Sheena started baking and sharing! The circle of life is such – the farmers’ market where she purchased ingredients from, became the place where she soon became a vendor selling Made with Local bars.

“Every single day is a huge learning curve – but the excitement of the big wins is enough to keep pushing us towards our mission of bringing delicious, nourishing foods into people’s homes. And this has, in turn, created a positive social and environmental impact all along the way.”

Sheena is a social impact leader and champion to her team and community. It was a delight to hear how appreciative she is about her team, her community of farmers, suppliers, and retailers. She also values the camaraderie that exists amongst the CPG entrepreneurs across the country – even amongst folks who could be seen as competitors. She reflected on the realization that all entrepreneurs are on this journey together and that the relationships and connections that were formed along the way, have been an invaluable part of her personal growth journey.

Sheena and the whole Made with Local team gave a massive shoutout to their funders – Coralus (formerly SheEO), Farm Credit Canada, FarmWorks (a CEDIF here in Nova Scotia), BDC, NSBI and ACOA. 

“We’re also backed by an incredibly supportive group of angel investors who’ve been along with us on this wild growth journey!”

When it comes to achieving work-life balance, Sheena says, “Taking a mental health break is something I could improve at – for sure! Time in nature and going to see live music with friends are two of my favourite ways to unwind. On the weekend I spend a lot of time at home with my kiddos, focusing on being present for them, getting lots of sleep, and ideally sneaking in a trip to the farmers market to stock up on nourishing foods for the week ahead.”