Chia Sisters (From L to R) Florence and Chloe Van Dyke
Chia Sisters (From L to R) Florence and Chloe Van Dyke

Conversations with Conscious Entrepreneur Florence and Chloe van Dyke of Chia Sisters

How did your past contribute to Chia Sisters?

Chloe is a neuroscientist and holds a diploma in herbal medicine. She is interested in nutrition and health which are at the core of everything we do at Chia Sisters. Florence is a New Zealand champion triathlete and ex-lawyer. She knows what foods make us the best we can be and she also knows how to negotiate a good business deal!


How did Chia Sisters, as we know it, come to be?

Our first beverage, Chia, began as an endurance drink for athletes because our Dad is a world champion swimmer. Our family has always been interested in health and we created Chia because there were no sports drinks out there that were actually healthy. Some were fat-free, some were even sugar free but none had a high amount of nutrition and most were filled with caffeine, added sugar and artificial colours.


When we started to look at what was in nutrient rich Chia Seeds and the science behind it we began to realise why they have been prized for centuries. Chia is high in omega 3 (even more than salmon) which supports heart and brain function, is rich in magnesium for adrenal support and muscle recovery. It is high in calcium for strong bones, protein the building blocks of the body, fibre for the digestive system and antioxidants for immunity.


We blended our specially formulated drinks and shared them with the local swim team. It enabled our friends and family to train harder and recover faster. Our local grocer, Fresh Choice Nelson was the first to stock Chia followed by Nelson cafes like Red Gallery. Next up we took Chia across the ditch to Wellington where it was embraced by cafes.


Are there any standout hardships you’ve come across?

One week before lockdown we were producing more nutritious drinks than ever before. On the day of the lockdown cafe sales that usually make up 70% of our revenue dropped to 0.


As a food producer we could stay open but we had to make significant changes to our work stations.


We were able to produce and able to sell our product but our normal customer channels had disappeared. We looked at how we could change our business model to suit the current environment and also collaborate with others in a similar situation. We have launched Mum’s Mum’s Batch-Made Muesli because homemade always tastes better. And it’s fresh, straight from the oven. No more muesli sitting in a supermarket for weeks, no more strange moisture absorbing sachets, no more sugar disguised as syrup, no more middle monkey.


What advice would you have for someone in business?
  • Fail fast and fail often. It’s important to try new things constantly.
  • Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out and contact your idols.
  • Bring your personal philosophies and passions into your business. That way you will be motivated when the going gets tough.
  • Know your team. Not just what they do at work but what they want to achieve in life and how you can help get them there.
  • Celebrate the small wins. All too often we focus on the failures. Starting a business is rocky, use the victories as motivation to get through the tough times.


What does success mean to you?

Business sustainably is a Chia Sisters core value that we are proud of. We are only one small player but want to lead by example.


We pay the Living Wage which means success to us as it is 25% higher than the minimum wage in New Zealand and has been calculated as the hourly wage a person needs to not only pay for the necessities of life but to be an active citizen in the community.


We operate a zero-carbon business while most companies are operating without including or considering the damage caused to the environment and people in their balance sheets.


Where do you hope to be five years from now?

In the post Lockdown world we are taking it one week at a time!