By Brittany Tiplady
Natalie Ferrari-Morton is a no bullshit mama of two who’s spreading a lot of love around Vancouver.
With solid core values built around low sugar and B.C. sourced food, Ferrari-Morton has created a household brand, EAST VAN JAM, that is now garnishing the shelves of markets, coffee shops and boutiques around the city.
EAST VAN JAM made its market debut in 2013, and is now carried by more than 20 stockists across Vancouver, Pemberton, Vancouver Island and Victoria.
Each jar is accompanied by original artwork designed by long-time family friend and artist Scott Bilstad to create a visual palate that represents both the flavour of the jam and the vibrancy of East Vancouver residents.
“I had a desire to share that canning is really easy and people ought to be doing it a lot more in their homes. I wanted to show people that it’s not scary and not as dangerous as it’s made out to be,” explained Ferrari-Morton.
After three years of teaching community canning classes under the handle “Homesteading Mamas,” Ferrari-Morton took her passion to the next entrepreneurial level.
“Every class I would teach that was a beginners canning class. I would teach low sugar jam, and a lot of parents would be like, ‘Why isn’t this for sale somewhere?'”
“EAST VAN JAM started because I needed more than motherhood to keep me going. I love my kids and I wouldn’t trade in having had them, but after deciding to quit my corporate job and be a stay-at-home mom, for the period while they were quite young, it quickly wore on my nerves. I needed another outlet,” she said.
During her days of teaching community canning classes, Ferrari-Morton regularly sat down with a friend and mentor who helped shape her vision.
“[My friend and I] were finishing being pregnant and so we would sit down on her couch on a regular basis and she would ask me, ‘What do you want to do? What do you have to offer?’,” she explained.
“Over and over again it kept simmering down to: I just want to teach people how to can.”
The mandate More Love, Less Sugar continues to be the driving core value for EAST VAN JAM’S budding success.
Each recipe is handmade and canned by Ferrari-Morton herself, making her the true incantation of the word solopreneur.
“I love to make things, I always have. In fact, I got in trouble on the school yard for selling friendship bracelets to people. When I was in grade 5, I got called into the principal’s office. And my mom said, ‘She’s an entrepreneur, you should be giving her kudos!'” Ferrari-Morton laughed.
EAST VAN JAM, unlike the generic jars you’ve had sitting in the back of your fridge since 2012, is made with a 4:1 fruit to sugar ratio; four cups of real fruit (not juice from concentrate) to only one cup of sugar.
“I will not put things into my jam that I don’t recognize as a consumer. For now, I put vitamin C into my jams. It helps increase the acidity but it also helps preserve the colour. It’s kind of a balancing act to make sure that all the core values are maintained while trying to build it to be more sustainable,” she said.
And although the shelf life for EAST VAN JAMS may not be as long as other sugar-packed brands, each jar is made from fruit at the peak of their harvest or from fruit frozen at their peak, capturing the true flavours of the fruit.
Loose Lips asked what the best thing about being an entrepreneur is for Ferrari-Morton.
“Autonomy,” she quickly answered.
“The whole idea of being your own boss has amazing qualities and it also has huge drawbacks, like not getting a regular paycheque. But I get to set my own schedule all the time. I can make my kids a priority and that’s not a detriment. My kids are not always awesome, and I am not always the best parent, but being able to not have the boss man in charge of me, and being able to make the right decision for my family… that part is really awesome.”
You can find find Natalie Ferrari-Morton in East Vancouver driving her two boys to soccer practice, harvesting produce from her urban garden and making the occasional leather bag.
Brittany Tiplady is a part-time poet, and a full-time goat cheese enthusiast. She loves the indoors, fast wifi, collecting maps, and a generous glass of red wine.