The Moneris® Merchant Scoop Series offers an inside look at Canadian businesses thriving in an ever-changing landscape. Learn about how these entrepreneurs got their businesses off the ground, how they adapt to the 'new normal' and plans for the future!
After immigrating from Georgia, leaving his birthplace of Sokhumi, Otari Kobalia came to Canada with his family in 1996. He was a mathematician, yet life took him on a different route, and he started experimenting with different business ideas.
Otari opened GluteNull in 2011, after more than 10 years after working in the baking industry. His focus and passion shifted to gluten-free production, and saw the importance of healthy gluten-free choices while still being delicious. He decided to open a facility concentrating on quality products that would bring enjoyment and liberty to the constraints of a gluten-free diet.
Tell us a bit about GluteNull. How did you get the idea to start a gluten-free wholesale bakery?
Being a vegetarian since my early 20's, I've learned to source my energy from superfoods and developed a palate for a wholesome diet. Thus, unknowingly, I became an inventor of a project that is now known as GluteNull.
Many of my family and friends were looking for gluten-free bread that did not lack in taste just because it's healthy. Although the emphasis of GluteNull is on gluten-free and vegan products, we want to offer 'good food' that is natural, nourishing, ethical and delicious. We are uniquely gluten, vegan, dairy and egg-free, using only natural ingredients for baking our products. We also offer products that are yeast-free for customers who are on restricted diets.
How is your GluteNull different from other bakeries?
Most mass-produced baked products are made with chemicals and high-energy mixers to speed up fermentation. At GluteNull, our production takes anywhere from four to twenty hours, allowing the natural enzymes to react with ingredients. This slow process is why our products are more abundant in flavour, healthier and better for your digestion.
How have you had to adapt the business due to the pandemic?
In our books, slow and steady wins the race. The pandemic had a significant effect on our business. From adapting our supply chain to improved production techniques, we had to reshape our production processes entirely. We are planning to stick to our "new normal" schedule to ensure supplying our customers with gluten-free products under any condition.
The 'shop local' movement has taken off with many markets highlighting artisan products and local businesses. Are you noticing more locals are buying from you directly online?
Definitely! When the pandemic started, we received numerous messages from customers who didn't want to shop in-store or simply couldn't physically reach the stores. We quickly pivoted and launched our ecommerce store at the beginning of April.
You have a unique business model. You supply your products to stores and offer them online in a single package and in full cases. How has this model worked for you?
Supplying products in single packages and full cases give people the freedom to decide on their consumption. We wanted to make sure our customers always have access to our products, and this model worked out very well for us.
You supply your products to many grocery stores and health food stores. How important is it to have reliable partners, like Moneris, for continuing your businesses?
Our team is a small but tight-knit family. Although we distribute our products to hundreds of stores, we are still an artisan bakery with our hands, head, and heart deep in all aspects of the process.
Moneris helped us a lot in navigating our online sales journey and launching our ecommerce store. Our developer had to contact Moneris for support and was transferred to a Moneris developer, who helped him with technical issues. We're happy to have Moneris as our partner - they provide fantastic support, ensure our website operates smoothly, and provide fast and secure payment processing.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned during a global pandemic?
During the pandemic, we learned how important it is to rediscover the fundamental values of humanity, the bonds that connect us and practice them every day. With every new challenge that comes up, face it and never give up, keep doing what you love and support your team along the way.
GluteNull is a family business and a community of like-minded people. Their products contain the finest non-GMO ingredients, making them a brand of choice for allergen sensitive customers, health enthusiasts and foodies. You can find them in-store or online on their website where they deliver right to your door.
The information in this article is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be legal, business or other professional advice or an endorsement of any of the websites or services listed.