Florence Van Dyke of Chia Sisters talks about making a prestigious global list. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Beers, Burgers and Banter with Florence Van Dyke

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Every few weeks the Nelson Weekly sits down to have lunch at Burger Culture with someone interesting doing something interesting. This week we catch up with Chia Sisters CEO Florence (Flossie) Van Dyke who was recently named on the annual Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Tell us about your background before the Chia Sisters?

I used to be a corporate lawyer up in Auckland, but I was working really long hours and started realising I wanted to be doing something that I believed in and have a lifestyle which is a bit more on my own terms. My sister Chloe had created the Chia drink and was selling it locally when she invited me to join the team.

What inspired the career change?

It was a really hard decision, especially because I had studied to be a lawyer for five years, I had been working as one for three, so it was a real shift but I was feeling really worn out and demoralised by the state of corporate law, it didn’t seem very inspiring to me. Initially I just thought I’d do a year (at Chia Sisters) but after that year, we were distributing to all the Foodstuffs and Progressive supermarkets and exporting to Australia and Singapore so that was a good bit of fire to keep me busy here.

What do you attribute Chia Sisters’ success to?

I think we take a lot of risks, one of our philosophies to fail often and fail quickly, we like to try things and if it doesn’t work, we will stop and try again. Also staying strong to our core business values; nutrition, innovation and sustainability. We recently made our entire Pascoe St factory solar powered last year, to become the first solar powered juicery in New Zealand. We bottle in recycled glass and we pay our employees above the living wage. We choose ingredients and packaging with a low carbon footprint.

Tell me about being named Forbes 30 under 30 to watch?

It was really exciting. I was completely blown away. We are just so grateful for the local support we get. I think more than 50 cafes in Nelson are selling our drinks now which is massive for a town of this size. The cool thing about having your own business is that you can reflect your personal values in it which I think has been a big factor in our recognition. There is a summit in Hong Kong for all the winners in July and I think that will be great
to make connections.

Where would you like to see Chia Sisters go?

We would love to be known as Australasia’s most nutritious and sustainable beverage company. We want to push those vales into the mainstream for other companies. Things are going very well but we are still a premium product and we would love to see companies with strong values be supported. The industry has been monopolised by some really big companies, so we just want to keep doing something a bit different.