Meet the Virchew Crew

Laura knows a thing or two about feeling a tug of passion when eyeing a new venture. The relentless entrepreneur-within guided Laura through decades of success in real estate (sales, marketing and management), fitness studio ownership, business development, venture capital, event production, website development and design, and communications.
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Over 25 years ago in Saskatchewan, Laura created, financed and managed the first health and lifestyle studio of its kind. It was a one-stop shop that offered life-changing programs in personal development, fitness, nutrition and meditation. Her knack and passion for predicting trends in natural health, fitness, and plant-based diets, continues with the development of the first plant-based food for dogs supported by veterinary nutrition programs.

Researching canine plant-based diets as far back as 1989, Laura - and dozens of intrigued onlookers over the years - were encouraged with the remarkable results the diet had on her first border collie, Shanti. Laura knew, without a doubt, this message of this canine health success could, and should, be shared with others globally.

Now, after a decade of research and development along with a team of experienced entrepreneurs, business leaders, specialists, veterinary professionals and Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists, Laura began meticulously creating the formulation of Virchew. The strategy was set in place to position Virchew as a new canine nutrition and lifestyle movement. One where not only our companion dogs live and thrive on a plant-based diet but so do those who love and care for them. The brand’s mantra 'Good for Our Dogs. Good for Our Earth. Good for Our Hearts' resonates with the current market's exploding vegan and plant-based trends.

When Laura's not leading Virchew's daily business development, she's running the ocean pathways, hiking the rainforest with her spirited border collie, Seva, doing a TRX workout or searching for her next, delicious vegan food experience. Laura lives on the west coast in Vancouver, BC, Canada, with her partner Gord and their sassy Seva (a self-proclaimed ‘Top Dog’ at Virchew).

Laura Simonson

Founder and Lead - Sales & Marketing

Laura knows a thing or two about feeling a tug of passion when eyeing a new venture. The relentless entrepreneur-within guided Laura through decades of success in real estate (sales, marketing and management), fitness studio ownership, business development, venture capital, event production, website development and design, and communications.

With over 20-years of professional experience working in the food and beverage manufacturing industries and 10+ years in Veterinary healthcare, Kerry leads through change with her effective flexibility, relationship bridge-building and relentless energy for new ideas and improvements, which lead her to peer over the horizon continuously.
 
Growing up and staying in Port Coquitlam, Kerry enjoys yoga and spending time hiking and kayaking with her husband, Don, two teenage daughters Samantha and Rachel, and of course her family of ‘fur misfits,’ as she likes to call them affectionately. Each fur baby has their own unique storey, which is why Virchew speaks to Kerry.
 
She lives in a ‘combo food lifestyle’ with her family and works in an industry where people search for more ethical, sustainable and hypoallergenic food options. Kerry knows all too well the drive for a plant-based diet. With the practical working experience as a Practice Manager of a high-volume Veterinary Hospital, Kerry hears what dogs need and what people want.
 
If there were five words (or virtues) to encapsulate what Kerry is all about, they would be - futuristic, connectedness, achiever, arranger and maximizer!

Kerry Craig

Lead Consultant - Veterinary Partnerships & Sales

With over 20-years of professional experience working in the food and beverage manufacturing industries and 10+ years in Veterinary healthcare, Kerry leads through change with her effective flexibility, relationship bridge-building and relentless energy for new ideas and improvements, which lead her to peer over the horizon continuously.

New to the west coast way of living, Geoff relocated to Vancouver from Ontario this past May. Driving across the country was an incredible experience made even more pawsome by his trusty canine navigator Rocky riding shotgun. Settling in the uber-cool neighborhood of Kitsilano, while out walking one day, Geoff and Rocky stumbled upon Virchew HQ and a door literally opened on the next stage of their lives. With Geoff’s new position as Lead – Production and Distribution and Rocky onboard as Lead – Receiving & Cuddling – the duo now spend 24/7 together!

With shipping, receiving and team leadership experience garnered at one of the world’s leaders – Purolator - Geoff is more than ready for Virchew to go big. He is passionate about all-things dogs and everything Virchew stands for. Geoff enjoys participating in sports, enjoying Marvel movies, and experiencing the great outdoors when he has spare time.

Geoff Ward

Lead - Distribution & Production

New to the west coast way of living, Geoff relocated to Vancouver from Ontario this past May. Driving across the country was an incredible experience made even more pawsome by his trusty canine navigator Rocky riding shotgun. Settling in the uber-cool neighborhood of Kitsilano, while out walking one day, Geoff and Rocky stumbled upon Virchew HQ and a door literally opened on the next stage of their lives.

When she travelled to Canada in 2012 to learn English and experience a different culture, Tatiana did not expect to fall in love with Vancouver. Our west coast city captivated her and was the catalyst for her immigration to Canada.
 
From an early age in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tatiana had always been keen on health and wellness, pestering her elders with questions about why all her favorite foods growing up were considered unhealthy. Alongside her interest in food and an innate understanding of analysis and math, she decided to pursue a degree in Food Engineering at a leading Latin American university.
 
With over 5-years of professional experience working in the food and beverage manufacturing industries, Tatiana has vast expertise in process design and improvement, lean manufacturing, business operations, quality assurance, and research and development. Supported by her BCIT Operations Management certificate, Tatiana has attained a broader view of the manufacturing process, from small business to large corporations.
 
In 2018, Tatiana switched to a plant-based diet, and throughout her journey, has educated herself on the importance of a more sustainable and cruelty-free lifestyle. She loves hanging out with her guy and Khyber, a Virchew dog, who is a living, Scooby Doo look-a-like. Now living in beautiful Burnaby, BC, she continues to be passionate about self-development, yoga, nutrition and is the perfect match for Virchew’s development plan and vision.

Tatiana Victorino

BSc, Food Engineering
Lead - Operations & Research

When she travelled to Canada in 2012 to learn English and experience a different culture, Tatiana did not expect to fall in love with Vancouver. Our west coast city captivated her and was the catalyst for her immigration to Canada.

Helen is a solopreneur with a focus on working with small BC businesses with strong ethics and practices. In addition to owning and running a marketing and communications company, she is a magazine publisher and prolific writer in the Lifestyle niche. She lives vegan, is an avid animal and human rights advocate, and her heart is with all who struggle to be seen.

In Athens, Greece, 15-years ago, Helen became an accidental activist for animal rights and welfare. After witnessing a brutal attack by stray dogs on a den of kittens, the lack of community resources available became apparent. Seeking to volunteer with an animal rescue group (like the VHS or SPCA), she found that shelters were illegal. The country had created many laws that reinforced that archaic notion that dogs and cats were vermin and were entitled to no protection. Through word-of-mouth, Helen found a group of women protecting street dogs in an illegal shelter, joined them, and began working to educate the community, coordinate spay and neuter days, hold fundraisers, develop volunteer programs, and organize protests to compel the courts to protect the voiceless. 

It is this strength of character and diligence that Helen brings to Virchew. She returned to Vancouver from Greece with a new family that included a husband, two large brindle strays, Snickers and Jickers, and two furry felines Zooey and DeeDee Ramone. 

Helen supports VOKRA, Animal Advocates, Hearts on Noses Sanctuary, and numerous human rights campaigns. It is this vibrant energy and passion that she brings to Virchew. Through her words, she shares our story with all those who seek a more compassionate way to relate to our earth and all those that inhabit it.

Helen Siwak

Lead Consultant - Communications & Media

Helen is a solopreneur with a focus on working with small BC businesses with strong ethics and practices. In addition to owning and running a marketing and communications company, she is a magazine publisher and prolific writer in the Lifestyle niche. She lives vegan, is an avid animal and human rights advocate, and her heart is with all who struggle to be seen.

Seva, the (self-proclaimed) Top Dog at Virchew has over 3 years of experience as an amazing wet nose kisser and hugging companion, especially if there are treats involved. 

As Lead - Balls, Toys and Walks, Seva ensures everyone at HQ takes time to play by throwing balls, tugging toys or she takes them for a walk as often as possible. She insists it's good for their health to walk with her often.

With her innate virtues of persistence, focus and tenacity, Seva is an invaluable member of the crew and reminds us all that life is meant to be lived!

Seva

Lead - Balls, Toys & Walks

Seva, the (self-proclaimed) Top Dog at Virchew has over 3 years of experience as an amazing wet nose kisser and hugging companion, especially if there are treats involved. With Seva leading this department, all crew members, customers and guests are given equal "play" time.

It may have been her love of music and performance that brought Shannon to the Lower Mainland from the Interior in 1980, but it was a full-time position in telecommunications that pushed that pursuit to the sidelines. Another passion took hold.

Over the years, no matter which corporate desk she worked from, Shannon nurtured an interest in nutrition - a proverbial seed had been planted. She began with the basic tenets of vegetarianism, which soon transitioned to veganism. She believed a plant-based diet was vital to reverse many of the afflictions some friends, family members and acquaintances who followed a typical North American lifestyle were experiencing.

Shannon facilitated several community health improvement programs, including the Complete (then known as Coronary) Health Improvement Project (CHIP), which teaches the importance of following the 8 Natural Doctors of Health. (The seed was growing into a tree!)

By 2018, she had studied and received a diploma in Nutrition Consulting and was moving into a career path dedicated to health and wellness. A chance encounter with Laura Simonson at a local event led Shannon to Virchew. Her personal experience with vegan/vegetarian diets, nutrition, her love for animals, and a genuine understanding of Laura's vision for Virchew, made her a perfect first team member of the Virchew Crew!

Shannon lives in Surrey, BC, with her two rescue cats - Bella and Boston - who insist she can't have a dog...yet!

Shannon Rose

Lead - Customer Care & Happy Wags

It may have been her love of music and performance that brought Shannon to the Lower Mainland from the Interior in 1980, but it was a full-time position in telecommunications that pushed that pursuit to the sidelines. Another passion took hold.

With over 40 years as an entrepreneur and business innovator, Gord’s unique experiences and incredible story-telling ability captures the imagination and possibilities of everyone in the room. 

Gord’s extensive and dynamic background ranges from ownership of a multimillion dollar food production facility to the invention of TRAK Kayak that was recognized by National Geographic as, "The World's Best.". Prior to his career as an entrepreneur, Gord was a bush pilot and air base manager in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada and a Social Worker. During his social work career he created the first of its kind, job creation program with a goal to transform the welfare system.

Throughout his remarkable career and life, Gord’s guiding business vision has been to cause ‘Money and Meaning’ or in today’s terms - social venture - where social and sustainable impact are the real keys to a company’s success.

When Gord is not innovating ideas for Virchew, he’s biking gorgeous ocean pathways or spending time with his 4 children and 6 grandchildren. He lives in Vancouver, BC with his partner, Laura and their impatient, sassy, border collie, Seva.

Gord Espeseth

Partner

With over 40 years as an entrepreneur and business innovator, Gord’s unique experiences and incredible story-telling ability captures the imagination and possibilities of everyone in the room. His extensive and dynamic background ranges from ownership of a multimillion dollar food production facility to the invention of TRAK Kayak that was recognized by National Geographic as, "The World's Best.".

Rocky "the Receiver", ensures that ingredient deliveries are received following the strictest of sniff standards. Then, he ensures a cuddle or two to thank the delivery person. With Rocky leading this department, Virchew doggy customers can be confident that all ingredients are up to sniff... um, snuff.

Rocky

Lead - Receiving & Cuddling

Rocky "the Receiver", ensures that ingredient deliveries are received following the strictest of sniff standards. Then, he ensures a cuddle or two to thank the delivery person. With Rocky leading this department, Virchew doggy customers can be confident that all ingredients are up to sniff... um, snuff.