Q+A with Justyna Kozlowska, Creator and Founder, NAGI Raw Organic Energy Bars & Healthy Snacks
Meeting through a friend in Mimico a few years ago, we have a mutual love for working out and staying active. Often we are work out buddies at F45 and share a common bond for a Saturday morning sweat session. Justyna practices a healthy lifestyle and a few years ago created a plant-based, Raw Energy Bar and Healthy Snack line called NAGI.
Q. Hi Justyna, when and why did you start your own health food snacks?
A. As a formal personal trainer, lifestyle coach, and registered massage therapist I practice a holistic approach to health in order to maintain a balanced way of life. Being a person on the go I wasn’t satisfied with the high sugar, low quality ingredient options of other snacks and bars so I decided to make my own.
In high school, I made my “healthy rum balls” for family and friends, and was surprised by the amazing response I received, so decided to start experimenting… after months of research and taste testing, I re-created that recipe into a raw nutrient-packed snack with very little natural sugar and clear of major allergens such as gluten, dairy, corn, and soy. In 2014 I incorporated my company and after hard work, trials and errors the NAGI brand was born! My mission was to create a movement in food that expresses and inspires a healthy lifestyle.
Q. How did you come up with the name?
A. Nagi (nā-gï) in polish means naked. We offer a selection of nutrient dense, delicious and portable wholefood protein bars and snacks that have nothing to hide and put consumers health as a priority. The name combines my polish roots (came to Canada in the early 90’s) and our message as a brand.
Q. Are they 100% Organic? Where are they made?
A. Yes they are 100% organic and made in Canada.
Q. What makes these bars better than the competition?
A. 1: The Ingredients – NAGI uses dried plums, instead of refined sugar or date-based energy snacks which are higher glycemic (tend to lead to a sugar crash leaving us hungry and craving for more food soon after eating) . Plums are also more gut-friendly and digestible than dates, making them a more gut-friendly alternative. Raw ingredients are used for higher nutrient density and packed with superfoods. Recipes are developed with sensitive stomachs in mind (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free). Here’s a snapshot of the organic superfood-packed ingredients list: coconut nectar, fermented pea protein, sprouted quinoa, chia, cacao nibs, cacao, sprouted brown rice protein, goji berries. The bars are high in fiber, low in natural sugar, and high in protein… like eating a very healthy two-bite brownie.
I recommend checking our recipe page for some amazing healthy snack and breakfast ideas
2: Production Process – Canadian Made
NAGI incorporates an extra step: a dehydration process. Stripped of excess water, dehydration yields a product that is high in flavour and higher in bio-available nutrient values. Consumers are fueled longer to tackle their on-the-go lives. Heightened flavours keep them coming back for more.
Q. Where can people find your products?
A. Our online store www.eatnagi.com where customers can receive 15% off their first purchase when signing up to our mailing list, Healthy Planet Etobicoke, Wholefoods, Big carrot, several gyms, and other retailers who are listed under “locations” on our website.
Q. Do you have other products being developed?
A. Yes, we are working on a keto version of our bars and balls. COVID has slowed this process down a bit but we are almost at the finish line =D .
Q. Do you have anyone on your team?
A. We have our social media marketing manager and brand ambassadors who do sampling and education sessions in stores and events.
Q. How are you managing the business during COVID 19? Has your work stopped, delayed or even cancelled because of the pandemic?
A. I must admit that the brick and mortar retail side of business has significantly slowed down but we have noticed an increase in online sales and subscription box companies requests for wholesale orders. One great one to note that is local to GTA is https://noshkit.com/ We are also trying to network and collaborate as much as we can with other small businesses to increase online awareness while offering a safe environment to purchase goods.
Q. How is your work / life balance right now?
A. Good question. I try to follow the 80/20 rule that is mainly applied to eating, but can also be applied to everyday life. It is all about balance… eating a well-balanced, nutritious meal 80% of the time, and leaving 20% wiggle room for food exploration (these days I save it for red wine =) . You can call them cheat days, cravings, or favourite treats. They may not be as healthy, but are just as delicious at the time of consumption.
Moderation is the key, including carving out time for myself away from work to be spent with my partner, his kids, and our animal zoo (2 dogs, 2 cats and fish).
Life is too short. We must be grateful for what we have, and do the best we can with it. It is a gift that is in the palm of our hands. Every day, we are faced with choices that have an effect on our quality of life and lifestyle. The actions you take now, no matter how small, are never wasted. They are just a stepping stone to bigger dreams, goals, aspirations, and opportunities.
Q. We often see you on daily walks around Mimico with your dogs. Do you do any other activities to stay active?
A. F45 online workouts are a great way to get the sweat on and release any mental and physical stress; kayaking, jogging, cycling, and love hiking outdoors. Now that the provincial parks are open will be able to do more of that.
Q. Any advice you can give to future or current entrepreneurs ?
A. Face the reality and continue to follow your passion and dreams. Meaning that challenges will happen. You will get a lot of ‘no’s before you get one ‘yes’. There’ll be blow ups that you might feel will ultimately end your career and your purpose in life. You can’t sugar coat the challenges of an entrepreneur life, but have to meet them with courage, commitment and perseverance to your goals and dreams. Keep an open, positive mind, and go with the flow. If one path leads to a dead end, try another. No effort is ever wasted, it only shapes you into a wiser being, and brings you closer to the reason ‘why’ this whole journey ever started
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us! We look forward to trying more of your amazing bars! Interested in trying her snacks or want to inquiry about Wholesale? Contact Justyna here: www.eatnagi.com