Welcome Jenny and Eleonora of Grandpa J's Seasoning! Jenny Siormanolakis is long tenured in the food industry, with her family owned and operated one of the “longest running single family owned & operated establishments from 1973-2014. Her first job was standing on milk crates working in the dish pit. Working all through school and college, she always helped the family business. She is always to be relied on to come up with an extremely clever solution to difficult problems.
In 2004, an opportunity arose to buy her recently deceased uncles business Grandpa J’s Seasoning Inc, and with the support of her parents, her and her sister Eleonora were suddenly business partners. At that time, food manufacturing was undergoing industry changes in supply chain advancements. The small business suddenly needed things they knew nothing about i.e.: Nutritional Fact Tables and barcodes which were all mandatory to operate. It was an extremely tedious learning curve and with zero mentoring from their uncle, everything was based on trial and errors. Unfortunately, she suffered a workplace career ending traumatic brain injury in early 2018, and she embarked on a long and solo recovery, filled with self-renewal, and where she discovered her talent for sales.
As she neared the end of her healing process, the start of the pandemic was commencing. Taking initiative, she took their only product and started pitching it into many small local grocers and shops around Vancouver. Their Grandpa J’s seasoning went from 8 locations to 20 in just a few months, and by the summer of 2022 would be in 90 locations all by sticking to the basics of working the pavement, building relationships and helping small business be successful at selling out of their product with the use of social media and engagement.
Jenny is a social maven and a connector within her community. She is extremely passionate about food security for children and seniors. Obviously, she is a strong advocate for mental health given her own journey. Her fun social media channels will always have loud cheerleading and mentoring for women businesses and show off her cooking or food experiments. Most describe her as strong, energetic, extremely empathetic and honest. Travelling to Greece, cooking or eating out and enjoying food with friends fills her spare time. Her favorite quote is “if you don’t ask, you won’t know”. She has a teenage daughter and a husband who eat the delicious food she is always cooking and may have had to be unofficial taste testers on a few occasions for the research and development of new seasonings and food concepts.
Immersed in small business her entire life, Eleonora Iliakis is passionate, hard-working and creative. Her small business background come from decades of working for her family-owned Greek and Italian restaurant. Starting at the young age of 5, she remembers rolling and pressing dough and saucing thousands of pizzas. Most of her youth and young adult life was spent in a commercial kitchen, working alongside chefs, cooks and prepping Greek cuisine, while learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business. This experience taught her the importance of quality, consistency and the need for outstanding products.
In 2004, Eleonora and her sister Jenny purchased a small business named Grandpa J’s Seasonings Inc. The brand came from their late great uncle Jim’s legacy, who was well known for his MSG free products across BC and Alberta. At the time of purchasing the business, the product line was a local food industry and chefs ‘best kept secret.’ This was a great opportunity for Eleonora to use her skills and background in the food industry to take Grandpa J's to the next level. Eleonora’s roles and experience has varied tremendously, in an ever-changing industry.
Embracing all of the work along the way from admin duties, managing the inventory, production, receivables/payables, any day-to-day operations.
In 2020, the covid-19 pandemic hit their manufacturing company hard. As a result, Eleonora and Jenny launched the retail division of Grandpa J’s. She’s been very involved in design, branding and marketing of the products. Her primary focus was using tools like social media to bring awareness of their brand. This resulted in increased sales and
greater opportunities. In fact, Eleonora often will reach out to influencers to see if they are interested in trying Grandpa J’s products. Eleonora's goal is to make Grandpa J's a home chefs best kept secret ingredient.
In addition to being a busy and driven working professional, Eleonora is also a mother of a teenager and has a dog named Frank. Her husband Steve is always supportive of her dreams. When she isn’t travelling for work, she loves to travel for pleasure.