Founders Leslie John Hopper and Monique Poirier’s shared passion for trips, hiking and overall health is at the heart of 123 Santé – J’aime mon équilibre!'s birth, in the fall of 2013.
Partners in life and in business, Leslie John and Monique owned an inn located in the Eastern Townships when they started experimenting with the idea of making a healthy snack. Initially, their intent was simply to produce these snacks for their own consumption. However, the snacks’ popularity prompted Monique and Leslie John to consider marketing their recipe.
With their vast customer-based experience in the food industry, these entrepreneurs then took on their newfound mission: Introduce their organic, gluten-free balanced snacks to the food market. What followed was the development, testing and sampling of many different versions of their product.
Meanwhile, numerous long-distance hikes and mountain climbs made Monique and Leslie John aware of the products available on the food market at that moment.
“The turning point happened on a long hike on the Chemin Saint-Rémi in the spring of 2014. We noticed that it was difficult to find nutritional foods that could be purchased and easily carried in some areas of Québec, on our way from the Eastern Townships to Gaspésie. Finding everything we needed during parts of our 925 km trip was quite difficult”, said Monique Poirier.
Previously, the research and development of a balanced snack was limited to a raw, fresh product : energy balls. However, it became apparent that the sell-by date was to be too short for this product to be realistically introduced to the market.
“As soon as we came back home, we went to the lab (our kitchen) to introduce a dehydration process in our recipe, so as to ensure the production of a healthy snack with a long shelf life, and which would be easy to bring on our hikes”, said Leslie John Hopper.
In spring of 2015, the sale of their Magog inn allowed Monique and Leslie John to invest their full attention into this endeavour… with conviction and confidence.
The use of a dehydration process, which ensures that as much nutritional value as possible is retained from the vegetables, is the key to the recipe. After many tests, more research and development, the first release of the [RÉMIS] healthy snack is marketed in July 2016 : the tomato-kale flavour.
“We have created a raw and organic vegetable bite, a very trendy product, vegan and gluten, dairy product, nut and cereal-free. A “clean label” (no food additives, food colouring, artificial flavors or preservatives). A healthy, all-natural food transformation”, added Leslie John Hopper.
Avril Supermarché Santé was the first retailer where our [RÉMIS] could be purchased. Since then, they can now be found in many other health food stores in Québec, as well as other retailers like IGA and Metro.
Meanwhile, in 2017, the [RÉMIS] beet-apple flavour was debuted and a third flavour, [RÉMIS] carrot-pear, should be released in automn of 2019.
The year 2018 has been a turning point for 123 Santé – J’aime mon équilibre! As well as adding more employees (production, sales and communication) to its small team and seeing a sharp rise in revenue, the company moved from a small 700 sq. ft. office to a 6000 sq. ft. factory, which quintuples our production capacity. Thus, we are better equipped to face the current and upcoming rapid growth.
New, more efficient equipment has been brought in to improve the fabrication process (raw material intake, transformation, storage, order preparation, delivery, etc.), including the construction of a dehydration chamber, designed by Leslie John.
“Today, our objective is to ensure as many consumers as possible – anywhere on the planet – have access to healthy snacks that are high in nutritional value, balanced, ready to eat; hence our Rémis, the most vegetized snack in North America!”, added Monique Poirier.
Who is Monique Poirier?
Born in the Montérégie region, Monique grew up on a dairy farm, where food was abundant but rarely well-balanced! The hardships of farm life are at the root of her perseverance and play an important role in the intangibles that continue to fuel her desire for personal growth.
Visionary and well-known businesswoman in the B&B industry for 16 years, she gained an expertise through numerous trainings with raw foods, which enabled her to offer delicious meals to her loyal customers who travelled from around the world to taste her culinary creations. Her perseverance, professionalism, and personalized approach were rewarded through numerous prizes including the National Gold at the Grands Prix du Tourisme.
These life-changing moments, through profound human contact with her devoted clientele, bring her to another important step in her journey. In 2010, she decides to return to school at the CRAM (Centre de relations d'aide de Montréal). After four years, she is now a graduate in human psychology and has her own practice as a certified Relationship Therapist.
Who is Leslie John Hopper?
Born in the Anglophone suburbs of Montreal, this multidisciplinary man is the creative chef behind the 123 Santé-J’aime mon équilibre! products.
After a short battle with type 2 diabetes, he regained control over his life through the practice of Dr. Barry Sears’ method by transforming his eating habits and attaining equilibrium in his plate.
Engineer by profession with a love of the land, he explores his passions through the practice of organic agriculture and painting. Leslie John is a certified massage therapist. He aims to one day cross Canada by foot with [RÉMIS]' crackers... and his muse.