They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Well, what if that apple lands in a pile of delicious Fattoush dressing?
And what if someone then jumped rope over the mess that was made?
Clumsy metaphors aside, the Fadels are a family of health-conscious entrepreneurs responsible for Cedar Valley Selections, a local food processor dedicated to providing customers with healthy and delicious foods. The store was founded by Ameen Fadel, a 22-year-old graduate of the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business, when he was still in high school.
Ameen chose to embark on this entrepreneurial venture with the strongest, most determined woman he could find: his Mother, Surria Fadel.
“When Ameen was in the spring semester of Grade 10, he heard an announcement at school about an opportunity awarding 30 students in the city $3,000 to start a small business,” Surria Fadel explains. “So he came home and wracked his brain about what kind of business he could start.”
That opportunity was the Summer Company program, offered through the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre, that provides entrepreneurial training, mentorship and grants, to students to help them start a business.
The Seed of Inspiration
The seed of inspiration had been planted in Ameen’s brain years prior. An avid hockey player in his youth, Surria used to bring her homemade Fattoush dressing to his games. Eventually, one of Ameen’s old teammates suggested the obvious.
“Why don’t you bottle and sell it?”
After remembering that conversation, the seed of inspiration sprouted and bloomed into what would eventually become Cedar Valley Selections.
“We decided to take a shot at it and see where it went,” Surria states. “We sold the Fattoush dressing to Belle River High School teachers. I was working at GoodLife at the time, so I sold it to my clients as well. We attended the Downtown Windsor Farmer’s Market in 2017. The first day was crazy. Everyone was going nuts about the Fattoush dressing. People were like, ‘Wow! Someone’s finally doing this. I’ve been looking for a Fattoush dressing everywhere!’ Everyone went bananas about how healthy it was, too. There’s not one bad ingredient in there.”
In 2018, Cedar Valley Selections was one of four local startups selected as part of the second cohort of WEtech Alliance’s ScaleUP Tech Accelerator program. Ameen credits WEtech, and the award-winning ScaleUP program, with helping them expand into new retailers and additional markets, develop new products, and leverage technology to automate and streamline their processes.
Now, Cedar Valley Selections has continued to expand. Their catalogue has grown to include several more dressings and marinades, including homemade pita chips. In 2018, their products were picked up by the Lakeshore Sobeys. By 2020, they were in 45 stores. Now, their delicious dressings and pita chips are featured in over a thousand stores across Canada.
“It’s been kind of crazy,” Surria states, putting it mildly.
Surria talked in-depth about just how crazy the ride has been, as well as the support they’ve received along the way from Small Business Centre, EPICentre, WEtech and others, in a fireside chat held during the recent Founders Week YQG.
Happening NOW @ #FoundersWeekYQG!— WEtech Alliance (@WEtechAlliance) November 10, 2021
Fireside Chat with Surria Fadel, Co-Founder, @cedarvalleyinc
Moderated by Jordynne Ropat, Founder, @plantjoyyq & hosted by @WEsmallbusiness.
Grab your FREE digital pass: https://t.co/fUQI25QjKg pic.twitter.com/LK8yVKigOo
Failure is not a dirty word. It's part of the process.— WEtech Alliance (@WEtechAlliance) November 10, 2021
Surria shares the toughest failure @cedarvalleyinc had, leading to huge losses, and important learnings.#ShareYourFailYQG & what you learned from it for a chance to win a cool, local prize!
➡️ https://t.co/lHWW3enJV4 pic.twitter.com/uMe2W6pOmq
Not Skipping a Beat
The success of Cedar Valley Selections is truly breathtaking. But, perhaps most exceptional about Ameen and Surria’s success is how contagious it is.
Motivated by her little brother’s success, Ameen’s older sister Muna decided to launch a fitness enterprise of her own.
MunaSkips is an online fitness service that teaches clients the benefits of jumping rope. Through Zoom, those looking to get an amazing workout can learn all about proper form and technique as well as new tricks. On top of that, Muna also offers custom tailored nutrition programming to help people either lose or gain weight based on their individual goals.
“I started my jump rope journey a year and a half ago,” Muna recalls. “I was struggling with Lyme disease and was a bit overweight. But then I started jumping rope and became obsessed. I decided to share the benefits with other people. I decided to go full-throttle and launch my own online business.”
Muna fields a lot of questions during her day to day. The most common one might surprise you.
“A lot of people ask me: Is it true jumping rope makes you taller?” Muna reports. “People actually think it does. Clients will message me all the time saying, ‘I swear I just grew three inches!’ And I say to them, ‘You didn’t grow. Jumping rope is just great for your posture.’”
Not to be outdone, Muna also participated in Founders Week YQG, hosting a morning health and wellness session to start day four.
Despite being in business for only five months, Muna has already accumulated too many success stories to count.
“Honestly, every single one of my clients has excelled so much,” Muna states. “But, it goes beyond the gym. My biggest goal as a coach is not only to teach my client’s how to jump rope, but to actually make connections with them. Sometimes they’ll even say, ‘Sorry, I forget you’re not my therapist.’ It’s so rewarding to build these relationships with people. And the confidence they get from jumping rope is truly spectacular.”
Truly spectacular might as well be the Fadel family motto. Cedar Valley Selections has opened a new facility in Oldcastle and currently employs 10 people. MunaSkips continues to grow and change the lives of dozens of people.
“From working with Ameen during our 2nd cohort of ScaleUP, to helping Muna with the development and launch of her online platform, it’s been inspiring to watch this entrepreneurial family grow their passions and family recipes into thriving businesses”, shares Janelle Abela, Business Advisor with WEtech Alliance.
So, I guess it’s true what they say: the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Just be careful jumping rope over it.
Michael Seguin was born with a pen in his hands and too many words floating around his skull. Since then, he’s worked tirelessly to get them out. Unfortunately, more keep taking their place. After university, he began dabbling in marketing and journalism. At the age of 26, he became the first in-house writer at Windsor Life Magazine, an esteemed local publication. As WEtech Alliance’s In-House Storyteller, Michael is dedicated to lending a voice to the tech sector around Windsor and Chatham-Kent.