Lulubelle & Co’s origin story is anything but conventional. A failed gluten-free Christmas dessert was the impetus for Marie Brossard’s decision to launch Lulubelle & Co, a company that focuses on gluten-free and natural products. When her gluten-intolerant brother brought a gluten-free Christmas cake home it was, regrettably, rock hard, tasteless, and disintegrated into crumbs when served. Despite her best efforts to find a better cake for the next family event, Brossard found that existing gluten-free alternatives only resulted in tasteless baked goods. She decided there and then to create her own mixes that were gluten-free, plant-based and vegan for her family and the whole world to enjoy.
The company was born at the outset of the global pandemic, offering baking goods that support a host of dietary restrictions: gluten-free, vegan, lactose-free and peanut-free. With this endeavor, Brossard successfully combined her two passions—pastries and planet—to craft a business that provides better confections and better quality of life. After several months developing and refining her recipes, she arrived at the perfect blend of gluten-free flours that, when combined and baked, consistently made delicious creations that everyone—with or without gluten allergies—loved.
Launching the business in March 2020, however, has not been without its challenges. In the earliest days of the pandemic, buyers were unwilling to add new suppliers and carefully cultivated business prospects faded as local grocers rushed to meet a surging demand. In addition, normally available business development strategies Brossard could pursue to give her products greater exposure—such as trade shows and buyer demonstrations—were impossible due to the pandemic. With keen determination, she eventually succeeded in meeting each of the buyers that had initially cancelled meetings with her to ultimately secure purchase orders for her products in their stores.
While the timing presented a formidable obstacle to Lulubelle’s early growth, Brossard’s tenacity assured its success and Lulubelle’s products are now available in 1,000 locations. For example, in 2021 Lulubelle had the honor of participating in the televised program “Dans l’œil du Dragon,” translated as the Dragon’s Den, where entrepreneur contestants pitch their products to a panel of judges. Brossard welcomed the opportunity, sharing, “the show provided us with a great boost!” A testament to this hard work, along with the quality of Lulubelle’s products, is its freshly minted contract with an international retailer that operates stores across Canada.
The growth of the business has allowed Lulubelle the flexibility to align business objectives with its core values and social mission to support the well-being of all. Lulubelle & Co became a certified B Corp in 2020, joining a community of 4,800+ organizations that seek to redefine business success through measures that go beyond economic indicators to include social progress and positive environmental impact. In Brossard’s words, “this certification rewards our high standards in terms of performance, transparency, as well as social, and environmental responsibility.” Additionally, Lulubelle is a certified woman-owned business with WEConnect International, which has also contributed to the business’ success. Brossard explains that “being WEConnect International certified brings me credibility and certainly helps to get buyers’ attention.”
Sustainability and fair trade are among the guiding principles that define Lulubelle’s social mission. Proudly local, its products are entirely manufactured in Canada, including the packaging. One ingredient it does import is manioc flour, sourced from smallholder women farmers in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Lulubelle is a fair-trade partner to Les Vergers D’Afrique, a Canadian nonprofit that works with farmers in the village of Notatinga. The partnership, which is essential to Lulubelle, also benefits local women and their families by enabling them to achieve self-reliance, food security and economic development.
In addition to this partnership, Lulubelle is also a committed supporter of The Breakfast Club, a Canadian foundation that provides healthy meals to children, helping them reach their full learning potential in school. Each day, 243,521 nutritious breakfasts are served in 1,809 schools across Canada, which often include waffle and pancake mixes from Lulubelle.
The recent business success has Lulubelle thinking even bigger, with plans to expand its presence into new areas of the food service market, including hospitals, hotels, and restaurants. “We plan to make our delicious baking mixes available in more stores across Canada as 70 percent of our present sales are in Quebec,” she says, “and there is lots more room to grow.”