Sustainable Food Production
Haida Owned and Operated Graduate
Marlene Liddle, Haida, is a cedar bark weaver and entrepreneur founding her business, Juuxiigandaa (Roaring Tide) Sea Salts, which provides customers with a taste of Haida Gwaii while supporting the local economy, protecting the waters and preserving culture.
“I have many years of experience managing a small business,” explains Marlene. “I am Microsoft certified. I can pretty much fix anything related to software on a PC. I like budgets and financials; I’m comfortable with payroll and accounting, income taxes, taxes. I have experience with website development.” Additionally, Marlene is a cedar bark weaver and she weaves for 4 or 5 hours a day. “I harvest and sell my own product and I prepare all my own bark,” explains Marlene. “I weave traditional hats and contemporary style hats such as western cowboy hats, fedoras and ladies dress-hats.”
Marlene is also passionate about “researching and learning new things.” Some of Marlene’s research includes further analyzing an opportunity she spotted for her business idea, Juuxiigandaa (Roaring Tide) Sea Salts, on Haida Gwaii. Juuxigandaa (Roaring Tide) Sea Salts “will create specialty sea salts that are pleasing to the palate,” explains Marlene, who decided to found her business after spotting great opportunity to meet a need on Haida Gwaii and beyond. “The global salt market is currently producing 310 million tons [of salt] annually, and expected to grow at 20% per year,” explains Marlene. “Most of the salts are currently imported from Europe and the USA. The demand for North American gourmet salt is expected to increase to 7% by 2019.” When this growth is combined with increases in tourism seen on Haida Gwaii, and recent trends in purchasing by consumers, opportunity abounds for on-island salt production. “Haida Gwaii is growing in popularity as a tourist destination,” explains Marlene. On “average, 10000-12000 visitors come to Haida Gwaii per year, and that’s slowly creeping up.” Moreover, Marlene explains, “the popularity of local micro-businesses is expanding because the conscious consumer is also driving the market that supports other micro-businesses.”
Marlene founded Juuxiigandaa (Roaring Tide) Sea Salts with her husband. Marlene explains that her husband is “supportive and willing to put in his sweat equity into establishing and growing our business.” In addition to creating specialty sea salts, Juuxiigandaa (Roaring Tide) Sea Salts is establishing itself by creating on-island “employment [through] using sustainably harvested, local ingredients such as huckleberries and seaweed, resulting in a product that’s unique.” Moreover, Juuxiigandaa is working to “preserve the purity and balance of the ocean minerals resulting in a product that has exquisite taste and that will benefit your cooking and seasoning needs.” Juuxigandaa (Roaring Tide) Sea Salts are “hand crafted from the pristine waters surrounding Haida Gwaii, using locally harvested ingredients for unique, savory flavors,” explains Marlene. “Our island’s surrounding waters are the lifeblood of the Haida Nation and we rely on the ocean for our food, and our entities are closely linked to her historical use.”
Juuxiigandaa focuses on ensuring customers are provided with natural ingredients direct from the source. “Our salts begin as sea water, and nothing else is added. It’s simple and it’s clean,” describes Marlene. “The waters sustain our communities, and it’s important to us at Juuxiigandaa (Roaring Tide) Sea Salts that our salts are as extraordinary as its source.” Marlene explains that the “ingredients for our blends and infusions are harvested her on Haida Gwaii.” Some of these ingredients include but are not limited to huckleberries, blueberries, salal berries, spruce tips and mushrooms. Currently, Juuxiigandaa offers three types of delicious salt blends, including a Japanese style sea salt with 4% humidity; a blend of seaweed and sea salt and a blend of sriracha and sea salt. As Carol, graduate of Haida Owned and Operated Cohort 3 and owner of Carol’s Kitchenware described, the seaweed and sea salt blend was so good that it’s “going to be a good one to have for [her] seafood chowder.” Moreover, Juuxiigandaa is focused on preserving culture. “I would like to use items like the canoe I have on the table for a salt pinch,” explains Marlene. “When you purchase a gift set, you could have the salt pinch with two or three different types of salt that go with that in a gift package.”
Additionally, Juuxiigandaa (Roaring Tide) Sea Salts share the history of Rose Spit with customers. “How Rose Spit was noted for the power of the supernatural beings that lived there, and it was much dreaded on consequence. Between the heavy seas and cross-tides, the actual terrors are easily seen as one who has been there can testify: Rose Spit arose from the ocean at the same time as Xa’gi. When the flood raised by a Raven’s Uncle subsided, Foam Woman was sitting on Xa’gi, and two people were sitting on Rose Spit. All the Rose Spit families come from these two people, and this is where Juuxigandaa is situated.”
With plans to expand her business on Haida Gwaii and beyond, sharing the history behind her company is important to Marlene. In year one, Marlene is offering gift packages with 40g of salt for $7, and gift sets for $55-$75 depending on the amount of salt – available in 40g, 80g and 1kg packages. Marlene plans to expand beyond offering gift packages in year two of her business, to also offer salt that goes on the table. In year three, Marlene plans to “introduce the Totem Pole shaped salt grinder, which will have a Raven on the Totem Pole.” Marlene explains this is important in linking “it back to the Rose Spit area and the history of the Raven Clan.”
Before applying to the Haida Owned and Operated Program, Marlene explains that she was interested in the program after she had heard Fraser Earl, Haida Owned and Operated Program Manager speaking about the program. Additionally, Marlene explains that her “interest was to have a classroom environment where we would have direction and focus on finishing our business plans and formulating a clear vision of what our businesses would be.” Marlene explains that in the Haida Owned and Operated Program, she liked “the personality dimensions section where we really had to take a look at ourselves so we could explain to other people what we thought our strengths were without feeling like were being arrogant. Broadcasting your best assets.” Additionally, Marlene described that the presentation skills built during the Haida Owned and Operated Program stood out to her. “The presentation skills: to get us comfortable standing in front of each other to talk about our ideas, which also helped to clarify the vision of what our business was going to be,” explains Marlene. “I really enjoyed speaking with the lawyer and with the accountant,” describes Marlene. “That helped us as First Nations to make the right choices for our businesses if we can get them onto Reserve and run them as tax-exempt businesses, it’s that much easier for us because paperwork-wise, even for somebody from an accounting standpoint because then we only have to charge GST.”
Marlene has advice for prospective entrepreneurs considering the Haida Owned and Operated Program. “It’s a huge commitment,” describes Marlene. “We had a short period of time. We started in October and we finished by the end of March. To take that into consideration, if you’re going to start it to make sure you’re dedicated to it, because that’s the way you’ll get the most out of the program is to attend every session.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Juuxiigandaa (Roaring Tide) Sea Salts or have an inquiry, don’t hesitate to reach out to Marlene at [email protected]. Make sure to look for Juuxiigandaa (Roaring Tide) Sea Salts at farmers markets and trade shows on Haida Gwaii in addition to the company’s online store which will be launching with the Juuxiigandaa website soon!
Marlene is a graduate of the Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs Program. Many Aboriginal Entrepreneurs have graduated from the award winning ACE Program, which focuses on bridging Aboriginal culture with the key elements of entrepreneurship and business creation. The ACE Program made possible through the collective efforts of our partnering regions, communities, institutions, and faculties.