A Life Long Dream Come True
When I (Heather) was only 14 years old, I started making vegan and gluten free desserts. Driven by my sweet tooth, a new plant based diet, and a passion for being in the kitchen, I started experimenting with natural sweeteners, alternative flours, and different ways of making treats.
There were few vegan cookbooks or dedicated ingredients in those days (the late 1990s) but I made do! Chocolate layer cakes, fruit tarts, peanut butter fudge, creamy chocolate tofu mousse, banana ice cream, chocolate chip cookies with carob chips, and more.
At age 16 I discovered raw vegan food and it was love at first bite. Cookies, chocolate, milkshakes, pizza with sun dried tomato sauce on sprouted buckwheat crust, tuna salad made from sunflower seeds, fruit based ice cream sundaes, dehydrated crackers, and blended veggie soups… Everything was made out of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and sprouted grains. It was a whole NEW WORLD.
I watched cooking shows on TV, read cookbooks, developed recipes, and constantly dreamt up new ideas. I also started working in a bakery where I learned how to decorate cakes, proof dough, bake, package, and run a business.
My passion for food led me to classical culinary school at the age of 19. I learned so much and went on to work in more areas of the food industry: in restaurants, catering, personal cheffing, a camp kitchen on the lake for 5 summers, and in bush camps for firefighters where I was flown in by helicopter. I also taught raw food classes in my hometown of Sioux Lookout, Ontario.
I love all things food but my biggest passion is vegan desserts. It’s what I love to create when I’m happy and feeling inspired but it’s also what I love to do when I’m sad, anxious, or tired. Making treats helps me return to my bubble of balance and transports me to another place where nothing else matters but the present moment.
Importantly, I LOVE seeing someone’s face light up when they try one of my treats. They make people happy! That is priceless to me. It thrills me to hear from people who can’t eat gluten or dairy anymore and are happy to find my desserts. I started my Food Blog when I was fully raw vegan as a way to document my journey. I shared recipes, photos of my creations, and snippets of my personal life. I started writing dessert e-books and got more into food photography. I later changed my blog name to Sweetly Raw as the focus was mostly on desserts. This became my official business name too. I wrote Sweetly Raw Desserts book and sold my treats at farmers markets, grocery stores and coffee shops.
I stopped eating a vegan diet after 13 years of eating that way. I had gotten very sick physically and mentally/emotionally. That’s when I introduced animal products back into my diet to heal and now I eat and enjoy all foods.
I met Jessica and discovered Singing Bowl Granola when I was selling my Sweetly Raw treats at a farmers market here in Victoria, BC. I started renting her commercial kitchen to produce my treats. Eventually I stopped that part of my business as it was too much for me to handle alone and I wanted to focus on other aspects of my business such as doing recipe development for companies, working as an influencer, and teaching classes. I remained friends with Jessica and even did some work for her making granola.
During the start of the pandemic, Jessica temporarily lost her staff so I stepped into the granola kitchen to help her. That’s when I got the idea to collaborate. I created some chocolate treats using her paleo No Grain Granola. We agreed that we had two winning products. Six months later we launched Peanut Butter Crunch Bars and the Caramel Crunchers - vegan, grain free, and soy free, made with 80% organic ingredients.
At that time we called them Healthy Vegan Treats and the products were under both of our brands but within 8 months we had grown our business to the point where it was clear we needed to merge into one new business.
Treat Yourself Treats was born. The mission was clear. We wanted to encourage people to treat themselves every single day without any of the guilt and shame that is often associated with having treats and indulging. NO more diets. NO more restriction. Let’s celebrate, have fun, enjoy, and “Just Eat the F*@#ing Chocolate!”
We’ve enjoyed organic growth and at this point our products are carried in about 30 stores across Victoria, Vancouver Island and Port Coquitlam. We also ship across Canada.
We have decided that this is just the beginning of something big and the goal is to eventually launch a full line of merchandise and more healthy treats.
We’ve started with these cute tote bags with our logo and motto that are available for order on our website.
As we come up on our first year of business, it’s amazing to see how much growth and learning we’ve experienced in 12 months. We are spreading love through chocolate and it feels fantastic!
As our dedication to give back to the community, we donate 12% of all profits to 2 local women’s charities: The Victoria Women’s Transition House and Bridges For Women.
Please connect with us on Instagram, @treatyourselftreats