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Blessing receives the Entrepreneurship Award from the uOttawa Black Student-Athlete Advocacy Council (BSAAC) at the University of Ottawa.

A founder of multiple businesses, a decorated athlete, and graduating the same day as giving this interview: Blessing Daye is a force to be reckoned with. As the newly-announced Egg Bunny Bistroprepares for an exciting launch, the Kanata North Business Association was fortunate to catch her for a quick chat. Read on for Blessing’s innovative journey with educating the world, one delicious dish at a time.

Come to Egg Bunny Bistro’s kick-off Father’s Day event on June 16th, 8:30AM – 2:30PM at 390 March Road. Each bun purchase will benefit the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation, the Kanata Food Cupboard, or the Ottawa Ospreys. Kick-off week will run until June 23rd, giving you all week to buy a bun that benefits Ottawa.

Hi Blessing! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Blessing: I came to Ottawa four years ago to play rugby for the Gee Gees. I had a wonderful career with them, winning a few medals including a silver, two bronze medals, and a gold. I knew I always wanted to beat to my own drum and I never knew how I was going to do that. Until one of my teammates pushed me to go to an entrepreneurship Boot Camp at the Entrepreneurship Hub at uOttawa.

Before I went to that Boot Camp I was dead set on being a lawyer. As a child of Nigerian decent, you have 5 options: doctor, lawyer, engineer, teacher, or – if all else fails – a disappointment. I had chosen that I would be one of the top three. However, thanks to my Grade 10 math scores, engineering or being a doctor were out of the running. So law it was! But I fell in love with the idea of changing the world through my impact, and through this thing I created – and that’s really where entrepreneurship kicked off for me!

What is Egg Bunny Bistro, and how did it start?

Blessing:  Egg Bunny Bistro is a really cool spin off of my last company, Afrodeez. We take eggs and our special homemade buns that are inspired by West African Agege bread and mash them together to make some really cool creations with some great handcrafted and handpicked ingredients. We represent different parts of the world through these different sandwiches. However, we don’t call them sandwiches, we call them bunnies ’cause it’s more fun! Now we have different bunnies inspired by the Middle East, Latin America, North America, Africa, the West Indies, and more.

Egg Bunny Bistro's promotional poster for a June 16th community event, benefitting local charities.

Where can people try your food?

Blessing: You can come on down to our hip-hoppin bistro at 390 March Rd. We are Unit 125 and we are open seven days a week from 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM. Hopefully, the community shows us some love so we can extend our hours!

What is your favourite thing on the menu?

Blessing: Probably the Persian bunny burger, because it incorporates so many different things and it’s really like ten meals in one. Plus, it’s a cool way to represent Persian culture while still honouring North American staples like a burger — with a little bit of an African twist because it’s on our sweet African bread. It’s truly a jack of all trades, but master of many.

Tell us a bit about how you pivoted from your path as an athlete to being a founder in the food industry?

Blessing: As an athlete playing a sport that’s played predominantly by non-marginalized people, it was hard relating with my teammates on certain topics. I found that a great way to start a conversation was over food. We connected on the fact that we were hungry as a starting point, and from there branched off into other conversations. It’s kind of like that old saying — something about “breaking bread”.

Also taking that competitive drive that I had while being an athlete is similar to the business world: you have to be tenacious. Like a dog with a bone, just like a Championship that you’re training for — you go out on the rugby pitch, knowing full well that you’ve trained your best for a game where the odds may be stacked against you. You might win you might lose, but every year you keep training with gold in mind.

Change the rugby pitch to an office or restaurant setting and change the gold medal to a $1 million revenue, and you realize business is not so different from sports.

What made you choose to set up shop in Kanata North?

Blessing: Truly, the community and the encouragement of entrepreneurship from other entrepreneurs around. The great thing is that all over Kanata North I’m able to pull from people who have experienced similar, if not the same things as me, and I just love being in an environment that cultivates impact.

Your last initiative, Afrodeez, was big on raising cultural awareness and bringing education on diversity and inclusion, something you’ve shown a huge passion for. Does this play a role in Egg Bunny, as well?

Blessing: Yeah, Egg Bunny does try to do that. I think the fantastic thing that Afrodeez did was show that bridging culture with education was very effective. If you could open up people’s minds through food, they were more open and receptive to learning about things or talking about things that aren’t necessarily the most comfortable.

However, with Egg Bunny, it takes a different spin on more cultures than just the African culture. Which, if you’re going to have a brand based on inclusivity,  you got to incorporate more than just Africans, you know what I mean?! I think that’s what’s so cool about this: it’s that we’re incorporating so many other people. Debuting our Mexi-Bunny Burger that’s incorporating Afro Latinos, or the West-African Bunny Burger, providing a nod to our roots as a company. There are so many cool menu items that represent different parts of the world.

A sample of Egg Bunny Bistro's offerings.
A sample of Egg Bunny Bistro’s offerings.

How did you come to realize the role that food can play in diversity education?

Blessing: The biggest thing for me growing up, especially moving to Canada from the US as a young person, was my Nigerian heritage from my mom. Getting my Canadian friends to try foods I grew up with in their original forms was tough. I got feedback like “It’s too fishy, Bless”, “it smells weird,” et cetera. So, I thought to myself: how can I make this more palatable to people?

Welp! I can change its form into a burger, which is something that everybody in North America enjoys. Then have a conversation over the fact that if this is not in the form that I put it in, why would you try it? That just seemed to be a really good segue, so I kind of stuck with it.

Let’s get real on obstacles, for a moment. What’s been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey?

Blessing: The hardest part of entrepreneurship is the financial literacy part! PERIOD, POINT BLANK! Knowing where to find money. Knowing how to manage it, knowing when and how to expand, and staying on top of the books. Financial literacy guides literally every business decision. The greatest thing is that being financially literate is a great skill that anybody can acquire. But if you’re like me… it may cost you just over $20,000 in mistakes to acquire that skill. Oopsie, hahaha.

And now, a highlight. Amidst your time as a founder, what stands out to you as the best moment?

Blessing: The greatest highlight in my entrepreneurship career was being asked to be a keynote speaker to Invest Ottawa for an event that was hosted! (And it was paid, woot woot!).

I remember thinking to myself: ‘I am 21 years old, I am just trying to survive. What do I have to share with people? I don’t know anything.’

But, a great mentor of mine told me at the time that being a young, female, entrepreneur of color gives me a whole new perspective that is quite new in certain spaces (shoutout Eric McCrae, MBO Coworking! Love that guy). Being asked to be a speaker, struggling entrepreneur or not, that opportunity made me realize my value was based on my experiences. Prior to that, I believed if my business wasn’t a million-dollar company, then I had nothing to bring to the table. But I was wrong… I have so much to share and so much knowledge.

Blessing and other speakers take the stage at the Brookstreet Hotel for an event celebrating Black Founders and leaders.
Blessing (right) and other speakers take the stage at the Brookstreet Hotel for an event celebrating black founders, innovators, and leaders in February, 2024.

What is your advice to other young founders?

Blessing: I will use this as an opportunity to speak out to young women! Most especially women of colour. Set boundaries!

You need to be able to identify when you are being taken advantage of or being asked to do too much. As a startup owner with limited resources, you say yes to things because you just want traction so bad. Agreeing to be underpaid thinking, ‘It’s okay they will pay me more later!’ (The answer is no honey, just no.)

I spent so much time trying to please people and build, giving all of my resources away. I tried to cope with all of the tasks people were throwing my way and I didn’t realize I was working myself out of a job. Until saying yes to everything led me to be months behind on payroll and receive an eviction notice from my landlord. Don’t learn the way I did!

How can the Kanata North community support you and Egg Bunny?

Blessing: KANATA NORTH: I NEED Y’ALL TO COME IN THE THOUSAND HUNDREDS! And share with everyone… I’m going use this as an opportunity to self-promote: follow us on Instagram @eateggbunny!

We look forward to seeing you between 8:30AM – 2:30PM, June 16th – 23rd at the Community Hub, 390 March Road, to support the launch of Egg Bunny Bistro.

By Hannah Manierka, Kanata North Business Association

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