Katie Nigh, owner of The Ketonut, chats about her work, life, struggles and successes
Photo: Katie Nigh
KATIE NIGH OWNS and operates The Ketonut, a bakery, retail store and wholesaler of foods for people on a ketogenic diet. She started the company when her husband, Adam, was battling cancer. The diet helped him in various ways, although he passed away in September, 2018. The couple had twin boys, now five, and a girl, now two.
Born in London, she went to Oakridge Secondary School, where she met Adam. She earned a degree in criminology at Western University; Adam completed the horticulture program at Fanshawe College. They dreamed of opening a bakery and greenhouse together one day. The family moved to Mt. Brydges five years ago.
Her free time is sparse, but she enjoys taking her children and two dogs for walks. She also enjoys dancing and reading. “I could spend hours in Chapters looking at books,” she says.
The Ketonut is inspired by your husband Adam, right?
Yes, Adam is certainly the inspiration and reason for The Ketonut. When Adam and I found out his brain cancer had switched to stage four, we knew we had to do everything we could to increase Adam’s chance of survival. He had read about people having good results using keto as part of their treatment plan, so we decided to try it. Holly was just born, and I came home and started doing the research into the keto diet and implementing it for Adam’s health. I also started keto about a year later and lost 40 pounds.
What exactly is a keto diet?
Keto is a high fat, moderate protein and low carb diet. When your body goes into ketosis it switches from running on glucose to running on ketones [fat]. This has great health benefits such as higher energy, less inflammation in the body and weight loss.
You sell a variety of keto food brands, but you also make some products yourself, right? Do you have a signature product?
We offer the biggest selection of in-home, baked keto foods in London. We are constantly filling our display unit with new recipes and now expanding into keto and vegan recipes to help fit everyone’s needs. We really enjoy playing with new recipes weekly in the kitchen, keeping our customers excited about what’s to come next. Our most popular products are our chocolate peanut butter cups and cookie dough brownies. Our pizza dough is a great seller, too.
Some of your products are also available at other retailers. Did you consider just wholesaling? Does your Wharncliffe Road store offer a wider selection?
We do wholesale with companies stretching from Corunna to Norwich. All the locations are listed on our website. I would like to continue focusing on wholesale, but also keeping the local store open as I love the customer interaction.
What does an average day look like with three kids and a new business?
It has been hard work running a business while raising three kids on my own. I feel like it’s always trying to find a balance between keeping the business going well and making sure I get the family time that we need. I am getting better, but at first it was a real struggle. I’m lucky to have great staff to help me where I need it.
You’re donating some of your proceeds to help cancer patients. How does that work?
Every month we run a charity called #TreatsfromAdam. I take five per cent of our earnings and put that towards taking desserts and meals to families who are going through cancer. This was Adam’s dream in the business to help others who had to go through the nightmare of cancer. I think a cupcake can bring a smile to anyone’s face. Interview by Christopher Clark