This week, meet Rebecca Brady, the food and global business visionary behind a new snack on the shelves called Top Seedz. Originally hailing from New Zealand, Rebecca combines her passions and talents as a traveler, athlete and mom of three children to run a successful food business that raises up female refuges.
How did Top Seedz come about?
Rebecca Brady: I moved to the USA in 2015 and after a year of our family getting settled decided it was time to do something myself. With a 10 year gap in my resume the job search was proving difficult so thought I’d seize the moment and start my own business. I combined my love for great nutrition and delicious food and started making crackers and roasted seeds. Voila Top Seedz was born.
Who were mentors that encouraged you?
I have had various mentors and support teams along the way.
Customers – My first customer was a fabulous personal chef. She would buy 1 LB boxes of crackers at a time that just blew my mind. This really gave me the confidence to keep going.
The first place I sold direct to consumers was a farmers market in Buffalo, the customers there were incredible and being able to speak to them directly really gave me another boost. Each week I would sell a few more boxes than the last and meet a few more Top Seedz Fans.
Fellow entrepreneurs – I also joined a women in business group and enrolled in an entrepreneurial leadership course at University Buffalo. This surrounded me with people in the same position as myself going through the same issues, there were always times when we needed to push each other forward.
Family – From day one my husband and children were helping bake, carry, deliver, advice, photoshoot, Tok Tok, taste test and on and on but most of all gave me the daily encouragement and support I needed to carry on.
What are challenges you face as a female entrepreneur?
I’m guessing that similar issues arise for female entrepreneurs and small business owners. Larger suppliers (with a short term view) possibly look at both situations and see risk. Possibly some of the following difficulties could have been related to either.
Being taken seriously!
1. when I first asked for a quote for my commercial oven (the size of a small bathroom) the salesperson told me this oven wouldn’t fit in my kitchen!! Really?
2. when I wanted to rent a commercial space some renters weren’t interested.
3. when I want to buy larger industrial equipment. I actually had someone ask me where my husband was!!
Teaching men that calling me ‘hon’ or ‘dear’ is inappropriate, and is very belittling. I’m not their niece or daughter. It’s hard to believe in 2021 that we are still facing these irritating issues!!
As a business owner, what are your top three priorities?
Superior Customer Experience
If I can achieve these, then everything else should fall into place.
What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs or women who may want to start a business?
For women Entrepreneurs keep going, you’ll get there but there will be many hurdles along the way. With each hurdle you get a little bit stronger. I often look back and wish I had the old hurdlet I found so hard at that time.
You can’t be what you can’t see. we need to encourage as many girls as we can to not be afraid to start their own business. With us showing them it can be done gives them role models to model their goals on.
For women who want to start their own business, go for it!! Talk to as many people as you can as you go. Someone has definitely had the same or similar issues as you and will be able to help. Everyone has had help and support along the way and in my experience is willing to give back as much as they can.
Can you talk about your vision for Top Seedz employees and why it was important to you hire and empower female refugees.
I have always lived in a very international community and have loved the vibrancy that it brings with it. When I first started looking for employees a great friend introduced me to the fabulous Journey’s End. It’s an organization that helps refugees setup their lives, including helping them find employment. Since then I have employed nearly all of my staff through them. We all have a passion for food and hard work and love working together.
More about Top Seedz: Top Seedz are delicious crackers that are made of pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and flax seeds. Rebecca Brady, a native New Zealander, has always baked them as snacks to have on hand for her tennis tournaments. When she and her husband moved to New York, she started bringing them as hostess gifts and then started selling at Farmers Markets. As luck would have it, a buyer from the grocery chain Wegman’s tasted one, and wanted Top Seedz in stores. Top Seedz can now be found in Wegman’s, Whole Foods (certain regions) and independent markets throughout the United States. These handmade crackers are the “chameleon of crackers” as they can be served with anything yet are filled with wholesome ingredients and yummy seeds that have a slew of good-for-you benefits. Created on the belief that good food equals good performance, Top Seedz are gluten-free and vegan, and made from pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and flax seeds, all of which pack a punch.
Thanks to Rebecca Brady for her time!