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Meet the Founders

Meet the Founder: Margaret Coons of Nuts For Cheese

Margaret Coons of Nuts For Cheese

Certified vegan chef Margaret Coons started out with a stand at a local farmer’s market. Now, her delicious plant-based cheeses are delighting vegans, vegetarians, and even dairy lovers all across North America.

Nuts For Cheese blends certified organic ingredients with traditional cheesemaking techniques to yield fresh — yet familiar — flavor profiles. From Black Garlic to Un-Brie-Lievable, Margaret’s entire line is designed to satisfy all your creamy cravings.

Recently, we caught up with Margaret to learn more about her journey and hear her advice for fellow entrepreneurs. 

Nuts & Cheese products on cutting board

1. Why did you start Nuts For Cheese?

I grew up as a vegetarian before going vegan. At the time, there weren’t many plant-based options out there, so I’ve always been passionate about making plant-based alternatives more widely available.

I developed my very first dairy-free cheese recipe when I was working as a chef at a vegan restaurant in London, Ontario, Canada. It quickly became one of our most popular items. Guests always asked where they could purchase it in stores! 

In 2015, I decided to open a farmer’s market stand. I was overwhelmed with positive feedback from consumers and local retailers who wanted to carry our products. We scaled organically through Ontario before expanding throughout Canada. In 2020, we became the first Canadian artisan vegan cheese producer to launch in the US. We’re now distributed in over 4,000 retail outlets across North America, so it has been quite a journey for us.

2. What obstacles did you face along the way?

We grew very quickly in a relatively new industry, so the answers and next steps weren’t always readily available or clear. We had to scale up our production to meet growing demand while maintaining the integrity and quality that our consumers have come to know and love. 

Early on, I spent many late nights with an all-hands-on-deck approach to get large orders out the door. Now, we’re operating out of a 25,000 sq. ft. facility with 33 employees, so manufacturing has become much less of a challenge.  

Nuts & Cheese with crackers on cutting board

3. What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Don't underestimate the importance of a solid business plan and market research. At the same time – don’t overthink it! Momentum is better than perfection and taking calculated risks is absolutely critical.

Also, get connected! That means reaching out to business support groups, networking with other industry professionals, finding a mentor, and, eventually, becoming a mentor.

Finally, be prepared to give it your all! In the early days, I rented commercial kitchen space to make vegan cheese late into the night and 15-hour days weren't uncommon. Your hard work can pay off in the end, but make sure you know what you’re getting into.

4. What’s on the horizon for Nuts For Cheese?

It’s a super exciting time at Nuts For Cheese! We just surpassed eight years in business and we recently introduced our all-new Sharp Cheddar wedge. We’re also in the midst of launching another exciting product line: Nuts For Cream Cheese! 

My goal is to continue growing the company and expanding our cheesy family as we roll out new, fresh plant-based products! 

Nuts & Cheese with noodles in a skillet

5. How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?

As I often say, you can’t take life too seriously! I think everything should be taken in moderation. I always make time for good meals with my friends and family, because it’s crucial to keep balance between working hard and making time for myself.

My family, friends, mentors, and employees continue to inspire me every single day. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my dedicated team or the people who believed in my vision in the early days!

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