Redesigning the Seafood Industry with Sonia Strobel

October 10, 2019

Sonia Strobel, Co-Founder and CEO of Skipper Otto, is using community to redesign the seafood industry – supporting fishing families, Indigenous communities and growing bolder along the way thanks to the hundreds of radically generous women in her corner.

I feel like I’ve gotten above and beyond what I would’ve ever gotten out of a business degree through the community that I have around me.

In this episode:

  • What’s broken in the seafood supply chain – from shipping seafood around the world before it gets onto consumers’ plates to mislabeling of products 
  • How Skipper Otto works together with Indigenous communities to ensure they get a fair price for their catch
  • The recent policy changes Skipper Otto has influenced to create a fairer quota system
  • Entrepreneurship as a means to living life on your own terms 
  • How the support of radically generous women gave Sonia the confidence to ask for what she needs 
  • Designing a business model from deeply inside a problem versus simply looking for a market opportunity

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Show Notes

Transcript

 

SONIA STROBEL: It’s a really damaging thing that in the entrepreneurial world where people often try to one up each other with their suffering. Oh, I haven’t eaten a healthy meal in three days. Oh, I haven’t slept more than four hours. We shouldn’t be bragging about that. We shouldn’t be celebrating that as some kind of badge of honor. What we should be saying is, we become entrepreneurs so that we can have balance in our lives, that we can have joy. And so for me, certainly, that we can solve major problems in the world, but without driving ourselves to insanity as well.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Welcome to SheEO.world, a podcast about redesigning the world. I’m your host, Vicki Saunders. In each episode, you’ll hear from SheEO venture founders, women who are working on the world’s to-do list. These innovative business leaders are solving some of the major challenges of our times. Sit back and prepare to be inspired.

SONIA STROBEL: Well, hi, I’m Sonia Strobel. I’m co-founder and CEO at SkipperOtto’s Community Supported Fishery.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Welcome, Sonia. It’s great to have you here.

SONIA STROBEL: Thanks for having me, Vicki.

VICKI SAUNDERS: All right. So did you always want to be a fisherman?

SONIA STROBEL: It’s such a great question. No, actually the funny thing is that I grew up really not actually very connected to the sea, even though I’m from Vancouver. I married into a fishing family, suddenly found myself learning all these things about the fishing industry, what it was like to fish, what it’s like to try to make a living fishing, what amazing seafood tastes like. And so all of these things I discovered in my twenties.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Did you ever want to be an entrepreneur? Was that something that you were searching for, or how did you stumble upon this work?

SONIA STROBEL: Yeah, I think that’s an interesting question because, when I reflect back, and I think it’s a lot of us who were kind of accidental entrepreneurs, is that when we look back on our lives, we may think, “Oh, I didn’t think I’d be an entrepreneur, but here I am.” But when you look back, you see all of these patterns and connections that actually I was always an entrepreneur, even as a child. I was always trying to create things, invent things, solve broken things in the world, fix things that are just stupid that shouldn’t be done that way. There’s got to be a better way. So I’ve always been doing that my whole life. I became a high school teacher in my twenties and was teaching in an inner city school in Brooklyn, New York. Was doing that, again, because there was so much broken and there was so much that needed to be fixed for the lives of these young people in New York.

SONIA STROBEL: Now when I married into a fishing family, and as I say, there was so much broken in the fishing industry, and saw that we were you really uniquely positioned to try to solve some of these problems and nobody else was going to do it. And that just didn’t sit right with me. So we started SkipperOtto, and we didn’t even think it was originally going to be a business. It was just the right thing to do. And I continued teaching for many years. So and then, here I am, 10 years later.

VICKI SAUNDERS: So tell us, what does SkipperOtto do?

SONIA STROBEL: Yeah, so SkipperOtto is a sustainable seafood subscription program. And it let’s seafood-loving home cooks all across Canada buy their seafood directly from BC fishing families. And it’s a really unique kind of upending of the seafood supply chain because our members really have a personal relationship with the fishing families. They buy a share in the catch before we even go fishing, and that gives us as fishing families the security, knowing that we have a guaranteed fair price for our catch. We know that people who appreciate that what’s done in small scale and traditional and sustainable methods are going to be getting that seafood. And then the members are getting this totally traceable seafood. They know exactly who caught each piece, where and when and how. And frankly, it’s going to be the best seafood they’ll ever eat. So it’s a great relationship for everyone, and it’s really solving some of these major problems in the seafood supply chain, that I can talk more about if you want to hear about those.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Yeah, I mean, so what is broken in seafood, in the supply chain?

SONIA STROBEL: Yeah, everything’s broken.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Sounds familiar.

SONIA STROBEL: I’m rehearsed through that many times, and it’s so true. I mean, and you always add to that, what a great time to be alive, and I totally agree. Everything’s broken. What a great time for us to get in there and roll up our sleeves and fix what’s broken. So the seafood supply chain, yeah, is enormously broken. Seafood that you can get in Canada, about 90% of that is sourced from foreign fisheries overseas. And meanwhile, around 80% of the seafood caught in Canada is exported to foreign fisheries.

VICKI SAUNDERS: It’s just like, what? I don’t understand.

SONIA STROBEL: It doesn’t make any sense.

VICKI SAUNDERS: It happens everywhere, right? It’s so crazy.

SONIA STROBEL: We’re shipping fish across one another, and it makes no sense. And on top of that, untold volumes of Canadian fish that you can get in Canada are processed overseas. So we’re catching fish in BC waters, or in wherever across Canada, we are shipping it in many cases to China to be cut, and then we are shipping it back to sell it to Canadians. And you’re right, this happens in forestry and it happens in all kinds of industries. And it’s bananas to me.

VICKI SAUNDERS: That’s so crazy. So when you first found out about this, you obviously thought, “Oh my God, this is crazy.” So you came up with a model to tweak it. And so one of the things that you’ve said before, I’ve heard you say this about mislabeling a fish. Can you talk a little bit about that? I don’t think most people understand this.

SONIA STROBEL: Yeah. You’re right, most people don’t realize. And that global seafood supply chain, where this seafood is traveling around the world to get to end consumers and it’s changing hands dozens of times before it gets to consumers, is it creates opportunities for all kinds of problems. And one of them is mislabeling. And so study after study all across Canada and around the world shows that roughly half the seafood that you buy in grocery stores and restaurants is not what it says it is on the label. So it’s either intentionally or unintentionally mislabeled. Some examples are, last year Oceana Canada did this study of rockfish. They took DNA tested samples of fish all the country, and rockfish was a really shocking on … or sorry, not rockfish. Red snapper was a really fascinating one because 100% of the samples of red snapper that they DNA tested were not red snapper.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Oh my God.

SONIA STROBEL: They were something else.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Just something else. And so you said intentionally or unintentionally, is there corruption through this supply chain? Or I mean, how is that happening?

SONIA STROBEL: Yeah. There’s rampant corruption for sure. And there’s also just unintentional mislabeling, and that’s because it’s a sloppy supply chain. So it’s intentional in some cases because, for example, some people are willing to pay more for wild salmon than for farmed open pen fish farm salmon. So they will intentionally mislabeled their farm salmon as wild.

VICKI SAUNDERS: So they can make a profit on it. One of the things about our crazy economic models in the world is we don’t actually add in the true cost of the environment and the impact. And so how is it possible that fish that is caught in British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada, is shipped all the way to China to be processed and back? Are there no processing factories in Canada?

SONIA STROBEL: There are almost … there are very, very few processing facilities left in Canada. And this just speaks to the nature of kind of global capitalism, which is focused purely on shareholder profit at the expense of all else. And so if we’re talking about companies that are multinational and they’re simply looking for the way that they can make the most shareholder profit and they’re not giving any consideration to communities, to social impacts, to environmental impacts, then, yeah, you can save a lot of money by using fossil fuels to ship fish to China, to pay very poor wages, to have a more lacks regulatory requirements around food safety. And that brings your costs down. And if that’s all you care about, then that’s the system we’re going to have. And that’s the only products that people are going to have the opportunity to purchase are products that come out of that very flawed system.

VICKI SAUNDERS: So when you saw this, you thought, okay. I mean, I think your models totally brilliant, where you sit there and go, okay. So it’s almost using the community supported agriculture model, where you buy in advance and you buy that share. I love the idea that people pay in advance and then you only go out and fish for what people want, right? Which is cool.

SONIA STROBEL: That’s right. Yeah. So we’re not creating all of this excess and waste of it happens throughout the supply chain as well. Whereas in the traditional sort of industrial seafood supply chain, they go out and they catch as much of what they can at the lowest prices they can. When economic factors drive the price down and the big companies buy up as much as they can, they freeze it, they sit on it for years, they play games with shortages to sort of mass shortages by pulling out two to four-year-old fish from freezers and selling that, and play this game with people. What’s different in our case is, our members say to us, “Okay. We’re a family of four. We’re going to eat seafood once a week.” And so we have a share size calculator to help people figure that out. And it’ll say, “Okay, then you’ll want $600 of seafood this year.” So that family buys a $600 share, and we’d go out and catch $600 worth of fish for you.

SONIA STROBEL: Because we have all a lot of members, we’ve got close to 3000 members now, we can fish for the fish for all of those members, and all those members can then come back and pick and choose what they want from the catch. So they can say, “You know what, we’re on a low budget, so we’re not going to buy spot prawns or halibut,” which are more expensive items. We’ve got pink salmon and chum salmon, which come in at a lower price point. So it gives our members options, but it gives our fishing families the security of knowing they have a fair price. And then it takes all the supply problems out of it. So we’re not amassing fish and sitting on it for years.

VICKI SAUNDERS: That’s amazing. So you have an interesting story around working with indigenous communities. Can you talk a little bit about your experience when they were … you have great story here. I’ll just set that up and over to you.

SONIA STROBEL: Thanks. What we have to remember is that people have been fishing on the BC coast for something like 12 to 14,000 years. And the indigenous people in the coastal communities at British Columbia have been fishing for nutrition, for subsistence, but also for ceremonial and social purposes, and also for commercial purposes. And the first nations people on this coast have been trading seafood across the Rockies for thousands of years. We can trace that. So it’s the very fabric of society in British Columbia and has been particularly for indigenous coastal communities for thousands of years. And that traditional way of life is under threat, and it’s disappearing because of the industrial seafood supply chain. We’re really concerned with ensuring that people can continue, can persist in a traditional way of life in coastal communities, living with their families. They’re raising their kids there and earning an income, the fair living wage in their traditional way of life.

SONIA STROBEL: And so oftentimes, that means supporting indigenous communities in innovative and different ways. You really have to look at each community differently on what their needs are. So a number of years ago, we found out that the [Toquaht 00:11:00] Nation has a Chinook salmon fishery and that there were very few buyers, or opportunities where they could sell their catch. And so they were paid really very poorly for this fish. And we thought, “Well, is there some way that we can work together with this nation to ensure that they get a fair price for their catch?” And so we were on the fishing grounds and hearing their stories and hearing their challenges. So we said, “Well, let’s put this out to our members, if they’d like to buy your catch,” which of course they did.

SONIA STROBEL: And so we were able to go in there and offer them a much higher price than they were getting otherwise. That meant that they could afford to do things a little bit differently, and in some cases, get more PFDs for the kids on the boats and things like that and know that they had kind of a guaranteed price for those fish that was going to be fair. And then we could honor them by putting their faces on the fish, on the package. So that’s another thing that we do at SkipperOtto is that every piece of fish comes with the label, with the face of the person who caught it so that you can really look into their eyes when you take that fish out of your freezer and thank them for the hard work that they did to bring that to you. And that’s really important to a lot of those communities, that it’s personal, that there’s a real connection and that people value the work that they are doing to feed families.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Well, this is honoring of the resources then understanding that we’re all part of this singular system, as opposed to the economy as sort of outside of the ecosystem is incredibly powerful and something obviously we can learn from indigenous communities. So in terms of the licensing around halibut, can you tell that crazy story around what goes on there?

SONIA STROBEL: And this is so timely, Vicki, because we’ve been lobbying for change on this for years and the federal government made a big announcements. They had a standing committee on fisheries in the Pacific, and they released 20 recommendations, which are exactly my words.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Oh my God, amazing.

SONIA STROBEL: So I got all I wanted. I am so happy. So we’ll see how these recommendations materialize as policy and law. But we’re really excited about the potential for this to change. So let me just briefly explain what that is. So in British Columbia, unlike the rest of Canada or Alaska or any of our neighboring fishing communities, in British Columbia, you can own a quota or a license for fishing and never fish it. Sometimes we call them armchair fishermen or slippers skippers, people who just own quotas and licenses as investments, tools. And so in British Columbia, absolutely untold amounts of our licenses and quotas are owned by people who don’t fish, often by foreign investment firms. They’re like hedge funds. And it drives up the price of these quotas.

SONIA STROBEL: So if you’re a young fishermen, and by the way, we do use the term fishermen as a gender neutral terms. So women who fish tend to call themselves fishermen as well. So if you’re young fishermen trying to enter into the industry, you can’t buy a quota. They’re not available for sale. Even if they were for sale, they’re so exorbitantly expensive you can’t afford to buy it if you’re going to fish it. So young fisherman is forced to lease or rent these quotas from these big companies. There’s a serious conflict of interest there because they’ll lease it to you. The price that they would insist that you sell the fish back to them because they control it. So you can’t go looking for a good price from whatever buyer you want. And so they’ll set the price of the lease, and they’ll set the price of the fish later on in the season so you don’t know you’re going to get paid.

SONIA STROBEL: So let me give you an example. Last year, one of our fishermen leased halibut quota for $20 a kilo. He wasn’t told what he would be paid for the halibut until after he caught it all. And at that time, he was told he’d be paid $15 a kilo.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Oh my God.

SONIA STROBEL: So he was paid $5 a kilogram for that halibut.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Wow.

SONIA STROBEL: You can’t break even. With your costs, with your fuel, your boat, your deck hands, you can’t break even. And so the bank won’t lend you money for leasing quota because they know what a messed up system it is and that you’re unlikely to be paid fairly for it or even be able to break even. And so this is driving fishing out of our coastal communities. And thankfully, our federal government is beginning to recognize that. And that’s through years of us going to Ottawa and lobbying and witnessing on standing committees.

VICKI SAUNDERS: So how do you even get a quote in the first place? When did that all start?

SONIA STROBEL: Yeah, I mean that goes over many, many years. In fact, my husband Shawn, he’s our lead fishermen, he wrote his masters thesis on this, and so he could do an entire interview with you, Vicki. The topic is so complicated. But it’s been going on for … since the 80s there’s been real changes, the 1980s, to the way that licenses and quotas are owned, bought and sold in British Columbia. And really, at that time, the changes were all about consolidation. So the goal was, let’s consolidate the industry into as few hands as possible because there’s somehow this belief that large multinational corporations are the best stewards of the environment and resource. And I don’t know about you, but that’s not been my experience. Everything has been set up to take it out of the hands of individuals, out of the hands of indigenous communities, and put it into the hands of these large, often foreign companies.

VICKI SAUNDERS: I have this thing that I talk about often around the speculation economy. It’s literally 50 times bigger, so betting it all on red, right? It’s like a giant casino. So the casino economy is 50 times bigger than the actual … like an individual goes out, fishes, sells that, like the way the economy used to be. That’s just unbelievable.

SONIA STROBEL: Yeah, it is sickening.

VICKI SAUNDERS: It’s good to hear that there’s some change coming in that space, obviously. Let’s just pivot for a little sec. So you’re your mom with two amazing kids. What’s it like to be an entrepreneur and a mom at the same time? How’s that going for you?

SONIA STROBEL: Well, you know what? It’s fantastic. It is fantastic now, 10 years on. It was really hard in the beginning, and I can speak to both those things. So it was really hard in the beginning because, as an entrepreneur, and I think a lot of women can resonate with this, I felt like I couldn’t justify paying myself. Pay everyone else. I was fighting for living wages for fishing families, but I wasn’t paying myself. So I was still working as a teacher, trying to run the company on the side, and I’m trying to raise two small kids. And it was really, really hard. Thankfully, through mentorship, great mentorship and great support from folks like SheEO, I was able to find the courage, really, to quit my teaching job, pay myself a living wage, and hire really smart, smart, wonderful people.

SONIA STROBEL: And so now, 10 years on, we’ve built an amazing team, operationally, communications team, an incredible team. And I have a job now which I absolutely love. My job means that when it’s sports day at my kids’ school and they want me to come because they really want me to see them running, I can say, “You know what, I’m leaving. It’s 11:00 AM I’m going to go because it’s sports day and I’ll work later and I’ll work at my pace when it makes sense for to work around the life of my kids and the life that I’m trying to build.” And that just means a lot to me.

VICKI SAUNDERS: This is one of the things, I think there’s such a myth out there and a narrative around you have to work 24/7 to be an entrepreneur. You’re all in, all the time. And that’s why these dumb questions come up all the time of, how are you going to have kids and be an entrepreneur at the same time? I actually think this is one of the reasons why often we all choose to be entrepreneurs is because we can have so much more flexibility.

SONIA STROBEL: Yes, absolutely. And I think that it’s a really damaging thing that in the entrepreneurial world where people often try to one up each other with their suffering. Oh, well I haven’t eaten healthy meal in three days. Oh, I haven’t slept more than four hours. We shouldn’t be bragging about that. We shouldn’t be celebrating that as some kind of badge of honor. What we should be saying is, we become entrepreneurs so that we can have balance in our lives, that we can have joy. And so for me, certainly, so we can solve major problems in the world, but without driving ourselves to insanity as well.

VICKI SAUNDERS: And it’s sometimes challenging unless you’re surrounded by other people who are taking space for themselves. I mean, you recently told me a story of how you were constantly in the office cranking all the time and then you went, “Wait a minute. I need to take a break.” And then what happened to your business when you took a break?

SONIA STROBEL: Yeah, it was a fascinating thing. So I took a break, and I unplugged completely, and it was absolutely terrifying, but I knew it needed to happen. I needed to reset. And when I came back, we had the best sales month ever, without me. Everything was great. And what it showed me was that my team has got this, and sometimes I just need to get out of their way and let them do what they’re great at and support them and unblock them where and when I can. But it’s not that I need to drive myself crazy and be in the office for ridiculous long hours.

VICKI SAUNDERS: That’s a hard lesson to learn. But once you do it once, you’re like, “Oh my God.” And thank you for sharing that because this is something we can all learn, right? What would happen if I walked out for a couple of days? And then just to see things start to flow. I mean, sometimes when you create that vacuum, people just fly, they step into the leadership and go, which is kind of cool.

SONIA STROBEL: Exactly, exactly.

VICKI SAUNDERS: It’s amazing.

SONIA STROBEL: I encourage more people to give it a try and see what happens because whenever I talk to people, I hear them say, “Well, I couldn’t do that. I mean, everything would all fall apart from me. That’s great that it it didn’t fall apart for you.” But I encourage people to consider, are you sure it would all fall apart?

VICKI SAUNDERS: Are you sure? You don’t know that for sure.

SONIA STROBEL: Yeah.

VICKI SAUNDERS: So one of the things that we love to talk about and share the impact of is boldness on our thinking at SheEO. And this concept and this question of, how would you act differently if you were surrounded by radically generous women, if people said yes to you? Can you talk a little bit about how you’ve witnessed your boldness kind of grow over time?

SONIA STROBEL: Yeah, that’s such a great question. And, Vicki, you’ve watched me over the last whatever it’s been, five years or so, grow in my boldness so much. And one really good example is, I think at the first SheEO summit gala dinner that we had in Toronto and we were all invited to make an ask. And I was so conservative in my asks, and I think I said something like, “Well, it would sure be great if we could get a few members, a few people here from this gala who would join.” And you pushed me and said, “Well, how many? How many people do you think? How much money do you think?” And I had this meek little aspect goal, “I don’t know, maybe we could sell like $3,000 worth of memberships tonight,” or something like that.

SONIA STROBEL: And you laughed and you said, “I think you should kind of go bolder.” And I know I was afraid to go bold. But nevertheless, I put out these pledge cards, and I told my story passionately, and I invited people to support so that we could bring aboard some of these indigenous fishing families, and that the more members we had, that would mean more fishing families we could bring aboard. I kind of handed out the cards and I kind of collected them. I looked up at you, Vicki, and said, “Oh, I’ve got the cards.” And so you said, “Okay, well, Sonia’s going to announce how many cards she has.” And suddenly from behind me, I heard this rustling. And I turned around and looked, and the entire room of hundreds of people we’re all standing up with their cards in their hand, these pledge cards to say that they would support our families.

SONIA STROBEL: And I just, I mean, I wept. I just couldn’t believe the support. It’s was the exact … to exactly to what you said, “How would you behave differently if you knew you were surrounded by a room full of supportive people?” And that changed. That was pivotal for me, because instead of assuming that people didn’t want to support me, that changed it for me and helped me to go into rooms with confidence and ask, realizing that … and ask isn’t me begging with my hat in my hand. An ask is me creating an opportunity for other people to be part of something that’s really cool that we’re doing. And that’s really changed it for me. And I have so much more confidence now to ask for what I need.

VICKI SAUNDERS: It’s such a reframe too, right? I remember thinking that too, asking people for money, “Oh, I’m going to … I’m hitting these people up.” It’s so hard, but someone who has capital who wants to have a meaningful impact is dying for someone like you. They’re waiting for someone with the cool thing to offer them, right? So I think that reframe is super, super important to what we’re doing in that asking for help piece. There are so many women out there who are doing things alone, entrepreneuring alone. Have you changed your perspective on asking for help and being in community with others to do this versus being isolated? Do you oscillate back and forth there, or how do you feel about that shift?

SONIA STROBEL: Yeah, I mean I am all in on the community piece and how important it is not to do this work alone. And when we started SkipperOtto it was 2008, and I had never even heard the word social venture. I didn’t even know that there was such a thing that existed, that there was people using business as a tool for good. It never even occurred to me. Well, we’re 10 years later, and now, I mean, it’s a big thing, right? Using business as a tool for good is a thing. When I first started out, it wasn’t. And when I began to find my people, to find my tribe, my community, is when I began to develop the confidence to say, “Yeah, actually, what I’m doing is exciting and people want to be part of it.” And it grew that boldness.

SONIA STROBEL: But if I hadn’t found my community, I certainly would not be where I am today because that community offered me the help I needed, made me feel less alone, provided mentorship in specific areas. I always felt like such an imposter because I don’t have an MBA, and who am I to run a company without having gone to business school? But I feel like I’ve gotten above and beyond what I would’ve ever gotten out of a business degree through the community that I have around me in business, and especially the people who are using business for change.

VICKI SAUNDERS: So interesting, this whole thing about … oftentimes, I have people go, “Oh, I don’t have a business degree, but …” And I’m like, “Oh, thank God.”

SONIA STROBEL: Thank God, yes.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Once you get trained in a certain model of the way that you’re supposed to do things, then you generally follow those models. But by not being trained in “how it’s done,” you have a chance to completely rethink things and do it in this innovative way. And so your business model is a classic, out of the box thinking thing, but you just did what felt natural to you. Right? You looked around and created it.

SONIA STROBEL: That’s right. And I think if I had gone to business school, I wouldn’t have thought of it this way. And so you’re absolutely right about that. The only way that made sense to me to do this was to say, “Yeah, why don’t people pay for their fish before we catch it? That makes sense.” And since then, people have said, “What a crazy and brilliant idea. I never would have thought of that.” And I’m like, “Well, I would have never not thought of that. It seemed like the only way to do it.” But it’s true. If I’d gone to business school, I’m sure my thinking would have been put in a box, and I wouldn’t have thought in this way.

VICKI SAUNDERS: There’s a book called The Messy Middle written by this guy named Scott Belsky. And one of the things that really hit me when I was reading his book is he talks about the people that really, really get their business model right are those who have suffered shoulder to shoulder in the trenches with the person who has this problem or this challenge. Right? And so I think of like, how many dinner tables, how many conversations you’ve sat through with your husband and his family, having been in this space, hearing the challenges, hearing what’s broken in the system, truly understanding what it causes as a challenge? And a business that gets designed from deeply inside the problem, as opposed to someone looking at it from the outside and going, “Where’s there a new market opportunity where I can exploit a niche?” It’s not that at all. You’re like, “How do I solve this problem for humans who are dealing with this?” Right? Having those dinners that you did with your family really gave you super deep insight into the challenges. That to me is something like this is where the best founders stories come from, right? Someone who’s suffered through it. I just find that-

SONIA STROBEL: Yes. Yes, absolutely. And the businesses that I think are the most fascinating, and frankly that I think are going to be the way that business is going forward, are the ones that started in this way. People in the trenches figuring out how to solve a problem that exists in the world. And I’ve watched people try to use the community supported fishery model that we’ve been working with, with other coastal communities to develop. I’ve seen other people come from outside the industry and say, “Oh, yeah, that sounds like a great way to make money. I’m going to start a community supported fishery.” And they’re generally not successful because they’re not in the trenches, as you say. They weren’t there scratching their heads and pulling their hair around the dinner table trying to figure out how they were going to make fishing work in their family anymore. And there’s real creative thinking that comes out of a need to fix something.

VICKI SAUNDERS: So what’s next for you? what are the next things you’re working on?

SONIA STROBEL: Well, it’s so exciting. We have so many irons in the fire right now. We are working with the Musqueam First Nation on a community seafood processing facility that we’re building, a custom building here on traditional Musqueam lands and Department of Fisheries and Oceans land. That’s going to be an amazing kind of temple to their values in a way. So open to the public for tours. people will get to look in the windows and see custom small-scale seafood processing. It’ll be able to process the food and ceremonial fish for first nations who are really struggling to access that kind of seafood processing. And a little restaurants and tasting room as well. So that’s a big, big, exciting project we’re working on there.

SONIA STROBEL: We’re also exploring a bunch of other ideas. We’re exploring home delivery. We’re exploring food trucks and restaurants, working with some chefs to build our own restaurants. And we’re exploring brick and mortar stores. So all of these things have become possibilities because of the early adopters who of believe in the vision and who have helped us prove out a model. We built the minimum viable solution 10 years ago, and we’ve been perfecting it for 10 years, and now we have so much support that any of these other things have become possible.

VICKI SAUNDERS: So that’s really exciting. Do you have an ask for our audience? There are people listening from all over the world, but is there something specifically you’d like to ask?

SONIA STROBEL: Yeah, I mean, for those of you listening in Canada, I would just love for you to look us up and follow us on social, and consider sourcing your seafood from our BC fishing families. And so we’d love to have you aboard and get you some fantastic seafood. And if you’re listening outside of Canada, and if you are in any way connected to a fishing community and you were interested in the model of community supported fisheries, I would love to talk to you about how we can help your community figure out how to get a fair value for their catch and connect to their local customers. I just love to continue these conversations with people about how we can fix what’s broken.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Well, thank you very much, Sonia. I think one of the things that we’re very excited about at SheEO is surfacing and discovering new business models that can be replicated around the world. And I think you’ve got an incredible business model that you’ve proven out that could be used all over the world, that would get us back to traditional practices of fishing only what we need out of the oceans as opposed to the clear cutting nightmare that we have going on right now.

SONIA STROBEL: Absolutely.

VICKI SAUNDERS: So thank you very much for your leadership and for all that you do.

SONIA STROBEL: Thank you for all your support, Vicki. I wouldn’t be here without you. I’m so grateful for what you’ve done in building SheEO and all the support you’ve given us.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Thanks. Thank you very much.

SONIA STROBEL: Thanks.

VICKI SAUNDERS: Thank you for listening to the SheEO.world podcast. If this conversation resonated with you, please share it with a friend and subscribe on your favorite podcast player. If you’d like more information about SheEO, please visit us at sheeo.world, that’s S-H-E-E-O.world.

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