By Rick Garrick
Nish Scon owner-operator Pam Naponse-Corbiere looks forward to pitching a business idea at the Pow Wow Pitch 2017 – Indigenous Pitch Competition on June 24 in Ottawa.
“You have a minute to sell your pitch of a business,” says Naponse-Corbiere, who began the Nish Scon pre-packaged scon-bannock mix business last fall. “It’s at the (Summer Solstice International Competition) Pow Wow. I’m really excited to share this with the world.”
Naponse-Corbiere, from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek near Sudbury, and her partner initially developed the Nish Scon idea while waiting for an oil change.
“We’re always thinking of new ideas to try and establish, and he said: ‘What about Nish Scon — Nishscon.com’,” Naponse-Corbiere says. “We talked about, yeah, it will be a pre-packaged flour mix. All you do is add water. So we both came up with it and it kind of went from there.”
Naponse-Corbiere says the next step was to envision how the product would be packaged.
“I did my research on packaging, what we wanted it to look like, and the labels and the logo,” Naponse-Corbiere says. “We found a bag place in Ottawa. I just purchase the bags there and I get (the labels) done by a local printing shop.”
Naponse-Corbiere says her family scon recipe, which was passed down to her by her mother and to her mother by her grandmother, had to be “tweaked a little bit” for the Nish Scon mix.
“It’s for some people who do not know how to make it,” Naponse-Corbiere says. “And it’s also for convenience. If you’re going to a Pow Wow, if you’re going to a hockey tournament, if you’re going to camp, all you have to do is take a bag and add water rather than taking your flour, your baking powder and everything.”
Naponse-Corbiere tested the recipe with some people who had never cooked scon or bannock before.
“And they both cook well,” Naponse-Corbiere says.
Naponse-Corbiere says the Nish Scon mix can be used for frying scon or baking bannock.
“We have it quite regularly in our house,” Naponse-Corbiere says. “We usually fry it, (but) I bake it when we’re having stew.”
Naponse-Corbiere usually prepares the bags of Nish Scon about two-to-three times a week.
“We mix 40 to 50 bags at a shot,” Naponse-Corbiere says. “Every bag is made individually.”
Naponse-Corbiere encourages customers to cook the whole bag at a time in case the baking powder is not evenly distributed in the flour.
“It’s made to make the whole bag,” Naponse-Corbiere says, adding that “having a whole lot of love” is the secret ingredient in the recipe. “You can’t be mad when you cook scon.”
Naponse-Corbiere first marketed Nish Scon to local First Nation stores, but she is now marketing it for $12 a bag at The Market in Sudbury and through stores such as Smith’s Markets and Ramakko’s Source for Adventure in Sudbury and three trading posts in Espanola, Serpent River and French River.
“It’s been going awesome,” Naponse-Corbiere says. “Smith’s Markets orders every other week. And our local Home Hardware here in Lively is just ordering it up again. So we’re getting some local consistent orders.”
Naponse-Corbiere plans to test another product this summer — Nish Crisp, for cooking fish.