In the bustling world of business startups, few stories are as unique as that of Nummy Creations Inc.
Founded by dynamic duo Akiko Hyodo and Corey Seale, Nummy Creations has quickly made a name for itself by introducing an innovative caffeine-free alternative that not only pleases the palate but also promotes overall well-being.
Their journey to success is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and the desire to make a damn good coffee (alternative).
“We were avid coffee drinkers and the whole ritual of drinking a coffee in a mug, the smell, the social connection. All of that is ingrained into your soul,” said Corey. “We didn’t want to lose that.”
The path that led to the birth of Nummy Creations began with Akiko’s diverse background, characterized by various careers and life experiences — or “past lives,” as she puts it.
From her early days in Aurora to pursuing Radio Broadcasting in college, she explored different paths until fate led her to the world of ballroom dance. Spending over 12 years as a ballroom dance instructor, Akiko's life took a significant turn when she met Corey.
Corey, who had initially disliked dancing, eventually fell in love with the sport and after a fortuitous turn of events, became an instructor alongside Akiko.
“It was my job to get him up to speed on things, so we spent a lot of time together,” Akiko laughed.
For over a decade, the couple worked around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Akiko teaching dance full time while Corey climbed the corporate ladder by day and taught dance lessons in the evenings.
Then, when Akiko became pregnant with their son, she had a bit of an epiphany. “The realization hit me like a wall that I would be responsible for keeping a human alive,” said Akiko.
The thought sparked her interest in health and holistic nutrition. Though she once dreamed of becoming a naturopath, she had put those aspirations aside years ago. After researching and falling in love with the subject during her pregnancy, Akiko enrolled in a holistic nutrition program shortly after her son was born. Juggling her roles as a new mother and a dance instructor, she immersed herself in natural health. Little did she know, the knowledge gained from her studies would later play a crucial role in shaping their business venture.
As the world was gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, both Akiko and Corey found themselves at a crossroads. Corey, having left his high-profile job, was excitedly starting a new position when the world shut down. Unfortunately, like many others, he faced the reality of being laid off as companies downsized during the uncertain times.
In early 2020, Corey also quit caffeine to manage anxiety and sleeplessness. He still loved his morning coffee ritual, so he looked for a caffeine-free alternative that tasted comparable.
“Unemployed, drinking this shitty coffee alternative, and I remember thinking… Now is the time to start something,” said Corey.
Seeing the lack of satisfying options, Corey and Akiko decided to create their own product.
“We both always knew we wanted to run a business together,” said Akiko. “We talked about it before we even got married.”
So, on Dec. 20, 2020, they incorporated and dove right in.
Over the next 12+ months, Akiko and Corey faced numerous challenges in launching their business, from finding the right manufacturer in Europe to overcoming hurdles with distributors and retailers.
“When we first got our samples they were just as gross as all the others. It was really frustrating and it took a lot of back and forth,” said Corey.
However, their dedication, perseverance, and passion for their product pushed them forward, and eventually, they found success. In April 2022, Nummy Creations officially launched, introducing their flagship product: a caffeine-free coffee substitute made from pure, vegan, and non-GMO ingredients, with a focus on retaining the traditional coffee-drinking experience.
“It’s the coffee experience, without the caffeine,” Corey said.
Nummy Creations' coffee alternative gained acclaim as consumers appreciated its taste and health benefits. The product's versatility, working well in both hot and cold water, further contributed to its popularity.
“Anything you can do with coffee you can do with nummy, it’s super versatile,” said Akiko.
While initially a barrier, their commitment to educating customers about the harmful effects of excessive caffeine consumption and promoting a healthy lifestyle also resonated with their audience.
“There is this ‘coolness’ with caffeine and alcohol,” said Corey. “Making caffeine-free acceptable in society is a big mission of ours.”
However, they said people don’t necessarily have to be coffee or caffeine-free to enjoy their product, either. “A lot of our clients still have their morning coffee but then they have our product in the afternoon,” said Corey.
While building their business, Akiko and Corey relocated to Collingwood despite never having spent much time in the area. It was a spontaneous decision that they credit with significantly impacting both their personal and professional growth.
The Foundry played a vital role in providing them with support and connections that helped their business thrive.
“This was the best decision we’ve ever made. It’s truly been life changing. We truly believe that the business would not be where it is if we had not moved out here,” said Akiko.
As they continue their quest to revolutionize the perception of caffeine-free alternatives, Nummy Creations promises exciting developments on the horizon, and they can't wait to see what the future holds.