How Charlotte Langley Is Cashing in on Canned Seafood
Since launching in 2020, Scout has hooked home chefs and restaurateurs alike. The craft-tinned-seafood brand was the brainchild of co-founder Charlotte Langley, a chef and native Prince Edward Islander who was inspired by the traditions of coastal fisheries. Last year, the company raised $3.5 million in funding, and today its artisanal products are carried in more than 4,000 stores across Canada and the U.S. Recent national distribution deals with Loblaws and Whole Foods ensure that Scout will continue to take a big bite out of the canned-seafood market, which is estimated to reach a valuation of US$27 billion in the next two years.
Title: Chief Culinary Officer, Scout
Degree: Honours diploma in culinary arts, The Culinary Institute of Canada
From: Summerside, P.E.I.
Currently lives in: Prince Edward County, Ont.
When I was a kid, I thought I’d grow up to be: So many things! I have always had great ambitions, and I leaned toward art, music and theatre as a child.
My favourite childhood memory is: Running along the beach in P.E.I., looking for sea glass, smelling sweetgrass blowing in the wind and tasting the salt water on my lips. Those memories inspired my passion for ocean stewardship. These days, when I go home to P.E.I., I often visit Brackley or Chelton Beach.
The biggest takeaway from my education is: You get out of it what you put into it. I excelled because I felt the need to prove myself—which stemmed both from the competitive nature of the program and from my personal insecurities. It drove me to work diligently, master my craft and prove that I had the skills and determination necessary to succeed.
My first job ever was: President of a skate park in Summerside called Generation XX when I was 13. I organized fundraisers and got $75,000 from local businesses to maintain and expand the park.
My most influential mentor was: Chef Robert Belcham, one of my bosses at C Restaurant, a (now closed) sustainable seafood restaurant in Vancouver, where I had a co-op placement between my first and second years of school. He was kind of tough on me because he wanted quality, and I was pretty green. His demands and high standards pushed me to work harder and smarter. He became a very good friend.
Something that really needs to change in my industry is: Psychological safety in the workplace. The food industry is quite brutal. There are long hours, low wages and a constant pursuit of perfection that
can wear down even the most passionate individuals. There’s also gender inequity. We need to do more to make sure there is fair pay and equal standards for women, including providing time off for period pain and pregnancy.
“This will take time—likely more than you think. Be patient, be gentle with yourself and trust in the process.”
The thing that keeps me motivated is: My unwavering optimism. I get out of bed because I want to solve problems that I’m excited about.
If I wasn’t doing this, I would be: Performing, probably—like theatre, movies, television or maybe stand-up comedy. I have always loved performing and acting, which is also why I’m a good chef. I can host and entertain people. (Catch me singing in the shower or car any time.)
When I need inspiration: I recharge my personal batteries by spending time with the people
I love and taking the time to rest and think. I’m also a big fan of bubble baths.
The biggest misconception about being an entrepreneur is: That you get to work for yourself. Sure, you’re your own boss, but you’re still working for and with other people. Shareholders and partners and colleagues and banks and VCs and angels—they all keep me accountable.
The advice I always give others now is: This will take time—likely more than you think. Be patient, be gentle with yourself and trust in the process. I first came up with Scout in 2014, but it didn’t hit the commercial market until 2020. Those years were filled with extensive planning, product development, market research and overcoming various obstacles to finally realize the vision I had for a sustainable-seafood brand.
Before I retire, I really want to: Expand our product lines, enter new markets and drive innovation within the industry. My long-term goals are ambitious but grounded in a commitment to quality, brand integrity, environmental stewardship and continuously challenging the status quo.