What It's About
Vegan food events become a big dill in the Garden State.
Words of Wisdom
Kendra and Marisa spent hours listening to people's insights regarding what they didn't like about their event. And Kendra said that listening to this feedback and making changes based on what they had to say has made their events so much better.
As Kendra put it, “It turns out that people who are taking the time to complain have good ideas, you just have to take the time to really listen. It really pains me when I see other businesses deleting comments or having kneejerk reactions because I think they are missing out on some really amazing feedback.”
The number of U.S. consumers identifying as vegan grew from 1% to 6% between 2014 and 2017, a 600% increase, according to GlobalData. That’s still a pretty small portion of the total, but other data reveal a growing interest in plant-based foods by consumers who don’t consider themselves vegetarian or vegan.
Sales of plant-based alternatives to animal-based foods including meat, cheese, milk, and eggs grew 17% over the past year, while overall U.S. food sales rose only 2%, according to data from Nielsen and the Good Food Institute. The market for such foods totaled more than $3.7 billion. [Source]
Notes from Chris
Episode 950When New Jersey native Kendra Arnold switched over to a vegan lifestyle in the early 2000s, it became painfully obvious that food options for her new diet were rather scarce. Together with her vegan spouse, she began to host Meatless Monday bike rides with her group of omnivore-inclined friends, hitting up the downtown area in pursuit of falafel and hummus. But beyond that, there was little else that made eating exciting. Food had become sustenance, and nothing more... But all of that changed one day thanks to a single Facebook post. Another friend of Kendra’s had just attended a vegan food festival, and posted about her adventures on Facebook. For Kendra, it was the answer to her tempeh-fueled prayers. She set off to see what it was all about. On the way there, though, serendipity struck! She ran into Marisa Sweeney—one of the only other vegans she knew—and fielded the idea of putting together a vegan festival. Marisa was on board—the only question she had was whether it should be for the town or the whole county. Kendra, on the other hand, was thinking much bigger than that—she envisaged a festival large enough for the entire state that would give restaurants and shops an opportunity to test out the demand for vegan food. Both Kendra and Marisa had some experience running nonprofit events, so they put their skills to work and began sourcing potential venues and vendors. That festival, VegFest, was announced in 2015—and Kendra and Marisa spent the next year and a half getting the word out via non-profit organizations, Facebook groups, and restaurants. And, in the midst of their marketing efforts, they discovered that there were a whole lot of people out there keen to be part of what they were putting together! At the very least, it certainly proved that people were willing to eat plant-based foods on days other than Monday. Building on the community that had sprouted up overnight following the festival, Kendra and Marisa started to organize other events. They stepped up their social media marketing efforts and started sending out more postcards. Simple though it may seem, the postcards proved to be so effective that the team still sends them out today. These days, Kendra and Marisa throw roughly seven vegan-themed festivals on an annual basis, with their biggest events bringing in up to 7,000 attendees and boasting over 100-150 vendors! Moving forward, Sprout Everywhere Events have been consulting with more vegan food festivals around the country and are starting to branch out to other events too. Kendra isn’t just content with merely growing a business—she wants to grow a movement as well.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Sprout Everywhere Events: Learn more about this growing side hustle over on Kendra and Marisa's website!
- WordPress: Kendra and Marisa used WordPress to set up their site, and here you can learn how to install your own WordPress site in 5 minutes
SHS EPISODES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Ketogenic Cookbook Author Makes $1,000 the First Day: After striking out on a new ketogenic lifestyle, one woman creates a $2,000/month side hustle sharing tips and recipes on her blog
- Private Chef Turns Performance Food Into $30,000/Month Hustle: A California professional uses her autoimmune disease to learn about healthy performance food, creating two businesses in the process
- Louisiana Vegan Community Becomes a Big Dill: Feeling like the only vegans in Louisiana, two friends start a roving, multi-course dinner series
- PR Consultant Launches California Restaurant Week: A PR consultant in Long Beach, California, earns an extra $20,000/year producing an annual “restaurant week” that brings together chefs and new diners
- “Dessert Goals” Team Creates Sweet Success: Two New York City event planners and dessert fiends create a festival series focused on their love of sugary goodness
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