Erin Ireland has become a national foodie celebrity, from her home base in Vancouver to Halifax. Her site, It’s To Die For, launched in 2009, and in 2011 Erin launched her line of spectacularly delicious (it might just be the best in the world) banana bread. People across Canada have chimed in on the subject, from Vancouverites talking about the banana bread’s greatness to us lowly Toronto folk dying to get a loaf to test. Worry not, for this 27-year-old beauty already has plans brewing, or, rather, rising for national and international distribution. Find out more about Erin Ireland and It’s To Die For in today’s YEDaily.
Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
My business is Banana Bread. Feedback, including a rave review from a Michelin Star chef, has led me to wonder if my recipe could be the world’s best. My goal is to put the bread on the international banana bread map by proving that the most delicious bread is right here in Vancouver. We’ve got great maple syrup, bacon, Beaver Tails, and now we’ve got Banana Bread.
Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
It’s all happened very naturally. Selling banana bread was not in the original plan.
A year and a half ago, I began giving the bread to friends as a gift. It was the easiest to make baked good in my repertoire, and sharing delicious food brings me great joy. The fanatical praise received by the banana bread – which I was absolutely blown away by – made me wonder if I was onto something big.
Social media helped propel things to the next level. Strangers from across the country (and some from Australia) began inquiring about the bread. The goal to create a food empire, including a line of baked goods (all different types of banana bread), a food-related TV show, and cookbooks, began to form in my mind.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Easy answer: blowing people away with a taste of ‘To Die For’. It’s healthy to pleasure oneself with exceedingly delicious food on a daily basis – in moderation, of course. I believe it fends off large, dangerous cravings.
The most challenging part of what I do is remaining patient. Sometimes, I want this to happen overnight, but of course, building an empire takes time.
Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
The banana bread will be sold in every major high-end supermarket in Canada and the Unites States. There will be several types of bread under the ‘It’s To Die For’ brand – different flavours, all banana based. A recent meeting with Whole Foods has me extremely confident in regards to the success of my products.
I’ll book an international media tour regarding the success of the bread, talk about how social media played a key factor in propelling the bread into the public stratosphere, and how the products have put Vancouver on the banana bread map of the world – we’ll be known for it.
During these trips, I’ll include public speaking engagements at high schools where I’ll spread my message to kids: how dessert in moderation is healthy and that dieting is the wrong route when trying to lose weight.
What does success look like to you?
Success to me looks like this: within three years, my business is running smoothly, ‘It’s To Die For’ is known as the best banana bread in Canada and the United States, and I’m stress-free. I have time for my family, my friends, I throw a dinner party at least once every two weeks, and I take big chunks of time off in the summer.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Seeing my banana bread packaged and on shelves at Commune Cafe. At our launch, we sold 51 half loaves and were trending on Twitter. Another happy moment was sharing the banana bread with a baking distributor from Whole Foods who said it was one of the best things she’s ever tasted.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Be yourself, be respectful, be honest, and remember that it’s largely about who you know, combined with talent. The more you network, the more opportunities will come your way. And never be scared to go out on a limb.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I haven’t yet settled on a charity, but this will be a huge focus for my company. My goal is to spread the message to young people (mostly girls) that dieting is unhealthy and that what we see in magazines today is unrealistic. If you know of a group focused on this topic, I’m all ears.
What is Notable to you?
The humble person who is hugely successful, yet walks down the street with a smile on their face, treats all walks of life with the same respect, and at the end of the day, remembers to call the elderly people in their life.