The start of something big

International business woman, Nadja Piatka, to address harnessing the power of the CanAm market as keynote speaker at Unleashing the Power of the Mega-Region event.

Growing up in Canada, Nadja developed an understanding of the food business watching her parents run their restaurant. While she loved to cook, she chose a different path after college and became a teacher. She married and then left teaching to raise her children. But when she later found herself as a single mother, she’d been out of the work force too long and finding a job to support her kids was next to impossible.

Nadja Piatka
Nadja Piatka

“I was essentially unemployable,” Nadja recalls. “I realized the only person who was going to hire me was me and that’s when I rekindled my love of baking.”

Nadja began baking muffins and brownies and testing them on her family and friends, including her two teenage children. She started selling her baked goods to local coffee shops, rising early in the morning to make her deliveries. As her customer base grew, she commissioned a local bakery to make and deliver her products. Perhaps her biggest break came when she went up against an international food supplier and won the business to supply McDonald’s in Canada with a cranberry muffin.

“My muffin was healthier and tasted better – I had a point of differentiation that allowed me to compete with the large food companies,” she says. “They couldn’t make what I was making.”

Nadja Foods grew region by region to become a national baked goods supplier across Canada, with facilities in Toronto. Recognized for her success, Nadja was asked to join an advisory board in Canada created to enhance cross border trade into the U.S. While she was not yet selling in the U.S., she did meet her future husband on a trip to Buffalo with the advisory board. Once they married, Nadja received her dual citizenship and expanded her business by opening a facility in Western New York.

This is part 2 of a 3-part blog series highlighting Nadja’s story. Click here to catch up on Part 1, and check back next Monday, March 7th for Part 3. 

For more information on the event, please contact Catherine Muth, Manager, CanAm and Government Affairs.