CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. — All year, we are celebrating the women of Western New York in our City Shapers reports. This week, 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik takes us to Cheektowaga, where a transplant from New Zealand is growing her healthy snack company.
Rebecca Brady is the "Top Seed" at Top Seedz and she grew up in Wellington, New Zealand.
"We make roasted seeds and we make crackers," Brady explained at her kitchen in Cheektowaga.
Brady moved to Buffalo four years ago; her husband's job brought her family here after years of living in Singapore and Japan. Now that her kids are older, she wanted to get back into the workforce.
"I had a 10-year gap in my resume, so I wasn't as employable as I thought I was," Brady said. "And you hear about it a lot, but you say, I'm confident, I'm kind of smart, I studied hard, I should be okay, but, no."
She decided she'd work for herself and start her own business.
"I love sport, I love nutrition, and I love food, and I said what can I do? And then, I thought I make lots of roasted seeds, and I've made the crackers forever, and I thought, okay, we'll give it a go," said Brady.
Brady launched Top Seedz in a shared kitchen before winning $50,000 from the Ignite Buffalo competition.
"So, this is the oven that I got with the Ignite Buffalo money," Brady said as she showed us her new oven.
Now in her own space in Cheektowaga, Brady has expanded beyond specialty shops and farmers markets. Top Seedz is in Wegmans and Whole Foods.
"I've learned over time, it's demo, demo, demo," she says. "I'm on the road as much as I can afford it, which my kids are thrilled about, in the stores, standing there sampling the crackers as much as I can with different cheeses, or spreads, or on their own, and just, yeah, just talking with customers."
Talking with people also helped her find her employees – they are all women and all refugees.
A friend told her about Journey's End, a refugee group where there are people looking for work.
"I don't know if I consider myself helping them, they're working pretty hard here," Brady said. "So, it's nice. I got a good start in Buffalo when I arrived. I was very welcomed. So, it's nice to be able to give back, and welcome these people here, and give them a good start."
If you know someone who would be a great City Shaper, just send Kelly an email.
Be sure to check out the rest of our 2019's City Shapers reports. Here's a recent one featuring Tara Ellis from FeedMore WNY:
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