With the rise of more and more black women breaking away from traditional 9-5s to become their own bosses, the CEO is getting a revamp as the SHEeo. CEOs are forging their own paths, blazing their own trails, and turning their passion into a profit. In the Meet The SHEeo series, we talk to melanated mavens leveling up and glowing up, all while redefining what it means to be a boss.
During her twenties, Adyre Mason began suffering from extreme health issues including digestive distress, adult acne, joint pain, and high cholesterol. Over the course of two years, she transitioned to a vegan lifestyle and eliminated her ailments. But despite having more energy and a new business plan for a food service company, she struggled with the idea of leaving behind her dead-end job and taking the leap into entrepreneurship.
With the loss of her mother in 2017, she realized life was too short to be scared or comfortable. She cashed out her 401k and in 2018 launched The Veggie — a prepared meal delivery and catering company serving vegan comfort food. The Veggie regularly travels all throughout the southeast with its vegan fare to service individual clients, events, and festivals.
In this week's feature, meet Adyre Mason of The Veggie.
Courtesy of Adyre Mason
Title: Founder & CEO of The Veggie
Year Founded: 2018
Location: Huntsville, Alabama
# of Employees: 3
30-Second Pitch: The Veggie specializes in vegan comfort food served through fully prepared meal delivery, catering and personal chef services, and wholesale partnerships. Using Huntsville, Alabama as a launching pad, The Veggie regularly travels throughout the southeast with its vegan fare to service individual clients, events, and festivals. It is our goal to situate our products and our presence in spaces in need of variety wherever vegans are, and where they want to be!
What inspired you to start your brand?
In my twenties, I began suffering from issues like extreme digestive distress, adult acne, joint pain, and high cholesterol. I knew I had to do something different. I began transitioning to vegan over a two-year period, moving intentionally from meat eater to pescatarian to vegetarian and finally, vegan. Within a few short months, many of my problems were gone or vastly improved, and I had more energy and stamina than ever before. I am passionate about exposing people to vegan food in a familiar way that helps with trying and sticking to something new.
"I am passionate about exposing people to vegan food in a familiar way that helps with trying and sticking to something new."
What was your a-ha moment that brought your idea into reality?
For years, I sat on my business plan and my passion for food while sitting behind a desk at a job I hated. Staying where I was seemed like the only option until my mom suffered from multiple strokes and was paralyzed in 2017. After losing her only four months later, I realized how short life was and that I didn't have time to be scared or comfortable. I cashed out my 401k to become my own investor and have used my grief as a catalyst for reinventing myself through my business in my mother's honor.
What obstacles did you have to overcome while launching and growing your brand? How were you able to overcome them?
My biggest obstacle has been working through my grief and depression. I started my business less than a year after my mom's passing and although my business has helped me get out of bed every morning and deliver, at times my grief has been a major roadblock. There have been many days I have literally worked and cried at the same time. Days where instead of being the push I needed, the business felt like an impediment to me getting the time I needed for me. I am learning that so much of life is about balance. I try to maximize every moment for myself when there's time, and I maximize every moment immersed in my craft when I'm working. Giving space for everything that makes me who I am and helps me become who I want to be - rest, work, self-care, planning, having fun, wherever it may be - is what I believe is key.
"There have been many days I have literally worked and cried at the same time. Days where instead of being the push I needed, the business felt like an impediment to me getting the time I needed for me. I am learning that so much of life is about balance."
What was the defining moment in your entrepreneurial journey?
Last fall, I had the esteemed privilege of catering a studio session for Grammy Award winner Anthony Hamilton. This was a full circle moment for me because I was first in close quarters with Mr. Hamilton when I was only a sophomore in college working at The Gap. To go from bagging his clothes to preparing his meal as the Chef and Owner of my own business was definitely a full circle moment!
Where do you see your company in 5-10 years?
I would love for The Veggie to become a familiar brand through nationwide shipping of our fully prepared meal service, as well as making some of my unique drink and small snack products available in stores like Whole Foods. As my company outgrows my individual effort, it is my hope that my passion for food and travel can collide to service personal chef clients wherever needed.
Where have you seen the biggest return on investment?
Oddly enough, I have spent very little money on marketing. I have primarily built my business on consistency, hustle, and word of mouth. I believe a key has been capitalizing on marketing opportunities that also generate revenue. This is one of the reasons I have put myself in a position to be able to travel so that as I vend across the region, I can market the business as well as generate the revenue I need to sustain and grow.
"I have primarily built my business on consistency, hustle, and word of mouth. I believe a key has been capitalizing on marketing opportunities that also generate revenue."
Do you have a mentor? If so, who?
No, but I would love to have one. I do try to share knowledge and ask questions, because I always consider myself a student, with other chefs who do work similar to me.
Biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
It's less about what you start with and more about what you do with what you have. I have not had an investor (yet) but I regularly see businesses that did sell less than me when side by side in the same venues. There are people who have more bells and whistles, yet people will bypass them to come shop with me because they've heard about the product or recognize my consistency. It's about working what you have, and sometimes that isn't always money. But when you work with what you have and stay consistent, I believe more resources come.