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Emily Miazga is the brand and the brand is her - and not just because she dresses up as the superhero on the packet to promote her product.

She whipped up the first batch of Em's Power Cookies in her own kitchen because she found there was nothing quite like them on the market.

Now they fuel athletes across New Zealand and the brand sponsors the South Island's Coast to Coast extreme sports event.

Miazga is well known in elite sports circles as the winner of the gruelling Longest Day race in the Coast to Coast - and Power Cookies provided the fuel to get her through it.

The Canadian-born athlete is also a sports nutritionist with a masters degree in dietetics and nutrition, which she says gave her cookies credibility when she launched them in 2004.

They are an evolution of a recipe she started in her home kitchen in 2003 as an energy food for her training for track and field racing.

Made with oats, dark chocolate, raisins, coconut and natural yoghurt, the cookies provide athletes with the sustenance they need and are more flavoursome than other sports bars on the market.

Over the years Miazga has tweaked the recipe to reduce the fat and carbohydrate content - something she achieved by decreasing the butter and replacing it with yoghurt.

She dished them out among friends and sports colleagues who became hooked and insisted she started selling them. But it was not until she arrived in New Zealand in January 2004 to compete in the Coast to Coast that Miazga saw the right opportunity.

That was the year nasty weather flooded the track and two-thirds of the contestants did not make it through the race. Miazga powered through to take third place, decided she was hooked on the challenge and that she would move from Saskatchewan to New Zealand.

Her late father had been an entrepreneur and Miazga had always fancied getting into business herself, but she could no longer turn to him for advice.

She found a mentor in Robin Judkins, founder of the Coast to Coast, who Miazga describes as a very astute and clever businessman.

He found the cookies "bloody good" and by February had helped Miazga draw up a master plan.

Now a million units are sold in this country each year and Miazga's company is a sponsor of the Coast to Coast.

Last year she launched a new product, the Power Cookie-Bar, which won her the best cereal award at the Massey Food Awards in October.

Miazga runs the business herself from her home in Granity on the West Coast but has the full support of her husband.

She has developed the business region by region, starting with Christchurch, spreading through the South Island, and more recently moving into the North Island. She says she was adamant she would finance the company herself and has been "taking things as I have been able to afford it".

Four years ago Miazga was renting kitchen space from a local business, baking as many cookies as she could manage herself and delivering them on her bike as she did not have a car.

She's now signed up with commercial bakers Baker Boys in Christchurch and has 10 distributors around the country.

The cookies and bars have been introduced to stores on what Miazga calls a "niche by niche" basis.

She launched using a bike shop distributor and has developed distribution to include health stores and pharmacies.

Sales have almost quadrupled in the past three months since releasing the Power Cookie-Bar.

"Things are really starting to gain traction, they are really starting to take off," Miazga says.

That means she has to employ strict time management. Even during the final build-up to the Coast to Coast in February Miazga does not stop working.

Instead she knocks off around 4pm to ensure she can fit in three hours of training and still be in bed by 11pm.

Autumn is her recovery period when she does things such as tramping in the weekends, but she still manages a few races during the year.

Last month she took off to Dubai for an international charity race, taking 80 bars and 20 cookies with her.

The fact that Miazga is the biggest advocate for her product is what has really raised the brand's profile.

"I'm the ambassador, they see me doing it. I'm the primary marketing tool," she says.

Miazga has also started dressing up as the superhero from the packet when she does public appearances or promotions.

"I have a lot of fun with it," she says.

She uses her position to write nutrition articles and give seminars, which is also good for marketing.

She would like to run recycling programmes and educate people on sustainable living.

"I believe it's very important to support local industry. I do as much as I can do," she says.

Ideally Miazga would like to run the company as a fully organic operation but says not enough organic ingredients are available.

The company's costs have risen with the cost of food and profits have taken a hit for the sake of competitiveness.

All bars are sold at the same price even though some use slightly costlier ingredients such as peanuts but it makes things easier when dealing with retailers, Miazga says.

She does not plan to export at the moment but does have business growth ideas up her sleeve.

She says she started her own business because she wanted freedom and sometimes, when working into the early hours of the morning, thinks "it's a bit full-on, but sometimes that's the knock-off".

It is easy to get sucked into working and sometimes it is hectic but, like the challenge of the extreme race, Miazga says she thrives on that.