Annika Lusis took matters into her own hands when she couldn't find a summer job during COVID.
The 16-year-old GCVI student often had summer jobs working in kitchens, but when COVID hit, she couldn’t find kitchen work.
“So I decided to create my own job,” said Lusis.
On June 28, she launched The Good Nik, an online business where she makes, sells and delivers chickpea-based edible cookie dough.
It all started last year when she was looking for ideas. Researching for products she can create and sell, the foodie followed a recipe for chickpea cookie dough that she found online. While it didn’t turn out well, she felt the product had potential and so she put her own twist on it.
The result was a chickpea-based product that resembles the texture and taste of cookie dough in three flavours: chocolate chip, choco-lot, and chocolate mint. And this product was good enough to sell.
“I was actually kind of surprised when I first saw this recipe of chickpea cookie dough because I thought how would that work like the flavour of chickpeas wouldn't match with cookie dough,” said Lusis.
“But it's weird, it actually does really resemble the texture of cookie dough. After my experimentation, I was able to make it taste almost exactly like it.”
Lusis said after a family friend recommended the Summer Company — a provincially-funded program that helps those between 15 and 29 years start their own summer business by providing mentorship and funding— last summer, that’s when her business started to become a reality.
“This has definitely helped me get a better grasp on what it's like to run my own business or just even to be in the industry itself,” said Lusis, who began getting numerous orders after launching.
She said the product is marketed toward children and families by saying it's the cookie dough that your mother wants you to eat because it's much healthier than regular cookies.
Lusis said she uses oat flour, grinds the chickpeas, mixes them with nut butter, and spices such as vanilla.
“I've never been really fond of just eating cookie dough because I've always found it very chalky, but the recipe I came up with it's not chalky so that's what I like about it,” said Lusis.
She said the batches take her a few hours to make and she delivers them with her mother. “She's the one who's driving since I'm only 16,” said Lusis, adding that her favourite part of the job is connecting with people through food.
“It just makes it all the more special when I deliver to places, and the kids are like ‘Mom! The chickee dough has arrived!’” said Lusis.
She said she always had a great relationship with food and developed a love for the culinary because of her grandmother.
With her grandmother, who is of Filipino descent, she would make Filipino spring rolls and traditional Latvian food such as Latvian piragi for her grandfather who is of Latvian descent.
“I get my love of food from her. And so I've always, I've always grown up in the kitchen and I've always, I've always loved food and also even just like the cultures and history behind it as well. So yeah, it just kind of seemed like a good fit,” said Lusis.
"My Vama l(Filipino grandma) loves to entertain and feed people. She taught me how to make both of these items, and I have sold them at school fundraisers and also had a stand at the Exhibition Park Neighbourhood Group creativity picnic when I was younger. I still like to make these from time to time for friends, family and now my grandparents."
She said she hopes to launch a pickup service for interested clients in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.
Her family has also been very supportive in the process
“My mom is more or less my assistant partner in crime. She's the one who's done my web sites and helped me with my social media, because she's a graphic designer so that's definitely helpful,” said Lusis.