Celebrating Women - Part 2 of 3

Welcome back to our three part mini-series highlighting some amazing female entrepreneurs!

Next up is Mary Marino and her business partners Jo Anne Torrance and Marlow Italiano from La Dee Da Gourmet Sauces.

I (Jeremy) was first introduced to Mary through a mutual connection to chat about the wonderful world of food start-ups. La Dee Da is a few steps ahead of Dick Duff’s on its business journey, so Mary has been able to provide some great guidance. Mary never hesitates to take a call and is always willing to bounce ideas around and make introductions whenever possible. We really appreciate the ongoing support and we love what these women have built in La Dee Da Sauces!

Tell us about yourself, your company! 

La Dee Da Gourmet Sauces is an all natural local gourmet sauce company specializing in plant based, vegan, dairy free, gluten free and nightshade free sauces. With offices located in Hamilton and Milton, Ontario, La Dee Da manufactures their products in St. Marys, Ontario.  As a plant based company, our products are locally sourced from Ontario as much as possible before sourcing outside of our province, always keeping it as Canadian as possible. 

Picture of vegetables on white background and text reading "The Sauce Queens"

La Dee Da Gourmet Sauces is owned and operated by three entrepreneurial women born and raised in Hamilton and Niagara Falls. Mary Marino, Jo Anne Torrance and Marlow Italiano (better known as the Sauce Queens) saw an opportunity to provide consumers what they felt was lacking in the market: clean wholesome sauces made with natural ingredients and labels that were easy to read. They spent months visiting local farms and stores and knew they were onto something with the plant based revolution that was unravelling. They became an inclusive sauce company that provides nutritious and delicious sauces to all aspiring vegans, plant based and everyday eaters. 

As the attention grew on this emerging local company, it also drew the attention of Arlene Dickinson who would then become the fourth partner to their growing business. What makes their line of sauces so unique is that they are not just for pasta - they can be used as soup/stew starters, chilli base, as a pizza toping and over veggies, noodles and zoodles and so much more.  La Dee Da’s versatile line of sauces help simplify cooking and help enhance everyday cooks into extraordinary chefs!

What achievement in your professional journey are you the most proud of?

We are most proud of the fact that through many adversities and challenges of starting a small business in such a competitive market (CPG) we are still here! We have become a trusted brand by staying true to our values and always putting our customers first.  By being an inclusive company we have cultivated a loyal customer base that proves consumers were waiting for a healthy alternative allowing them to create great and easy meal solutions, while becoming chefs in their own kitchens.

What makes a great leader?

A great leader is someone who has the ability to see a clear vision, with focus, humility and the courage to do what others only dream of.  Someone who can help others see their goals without jealousy or angst to be better than anyone else. Most importantly a great leader will show integrity and empathy in the most authentic way to everyone they meet.

Why is it important to support other women in the industry?

It is so extremely important and crucial for women today to stick together, supporting, encouraging and guiding each other towards success.  We as women are the backbone and the voice for every woman out there who has an entrepreneurial dream. Supporting instead of tearing each other down is what makes our crowns stay in place. We are the queens in our own domain and helping each other is what makes our kingdom a force to be reckoned with as women owned companies!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from someone?

GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY! These words given to us a few years ago, resonated with us as partners in a business and made us pause and really appreciate that statement.  Once you move out or your own way and see the lane you are supposed to be in, you may veer slightly left or right, but with focus, you stay in your lane and you add value to what you bring to your role in your business. That creates success.

How do you move forward after receiving criticism or feeling challenged?

I think as a women owned business, there are some challenges… to be taken seriously by buyers, to really put that first foot forward with confidence and to not let criticism get you down.  We rise together when we are strong together. Knowing and understanding that not everyone will like your product, service or whatever it is you do is key to staying calm and stepping back to assess how you will react to it.  Once the picture is clear, the solution lies right beside that.

What do you have in store for your business in 2021?

La Dee Da is up to some amazing new innovation this year! We are planning on shaking up the CPG industry and creating quite the riot on grocery retail shelves! Stay tuned!

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As always, great insight and advice. Thank you, Mary!

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