Today our member spotlight is on Yvonne, the woman behind the brand The Hungry Vegan. We chatted to Yvonne about her experiences in running the business so far, her plans for the future and her experience in Newmarket Kitchen.
1. What makes The Hungry Vegan so unique?
The Hungry Vegan provides fresh, tasty, plant based food ‘on the go’. The products are fresh and packed full of interesting flavours and ingredients. Vegan food doesn’t have to be boring, packed full of preservatives and sugar or overpriced for something fresh and good quality. People are always pleasantly surprised when they taste The Hungry Vegan products and it is the commitment of The Hungry Vegan to continue to produce products of a high standard that keep people wanting more. The style is a little Café Gratitude and a little Ottolenghi! Also all of The Hungry Vegan packaging is compostable, the ‘plastic’ is made from cellulose, something that is very important to the ethos of The Hungry Vegan.
2. What prompted you to start your food business?
When I was a child I wanted a vegetarian restaurant or café, it was always a passion. Back then becoming a vegetarian chef wasn’t really an option, so I went to art college. I’ve been a designer and illustrator for years and always with an entrepreneurial spirit, but it was a postgraduate course I did in Trinity last year that convince me to take the plunge. Travelling by dart into the city centre to attend classes, quickly revealed the difficulty in finding good quality vegan food on the go. I was frequently hungry! There were many other examples, including local festivals and events. I have struggled most of my life to find good quality plant based options, however times have changed and there is a societal shift towards veganism. The timing is right for a vegan venture.
3. Have you any tips that you think would help someone starting off a food business?
I think you need to be very clear about what you want and be passionate about it. It is not easy to set up your own food business and you need to be prepared to take the risk and take some early hits financially. You need to get used to rejection, success doesn’t happen overnight, but you must keep pushing, keep going until you crack your market. It can be difficult breaking into the market as an ‘unknown’, but you just need one regular order to give you a platform to build on, you need to be flexible.
4. What has been your best experience since starting The Hungry Vegan?
The best experience so far has been the positive reaction to The Hungry Vegan food. Watching people taste the food and seeing and hearing their reactions is very validating and encouraging. I love experimenting with new recipes and putting new ideas into motion and I have a lot of ideas!
5. Where can we find your products?
I have a sort of residency in Roberts of Dalkey, the owner – although not vegan or vegetarian himself - is a huge fan of The Hungry Vegan products. A selection of wraps and salads are available there weekly and I alternate the types of wraps. Peter gave me my start at The Lobster Festival last year, it was a quick decision but an opportunity that has afforded me a platform on which to build a steady business there and create brand awareness, I have an ever growing customer base. I am working on developing a number of relationships with artisan shops and cafés, so the Hungry Vegan products will be more widely available.
6. Do you have any new or exciting plans?
Yes! So, supplying cafes and shops is only one part of The Hungry Vegan business. The Hungry Vegan Bike unit will soon be launched, which is very exciting! It is a custom built unit for The Hungry Vegan and will allow The Hungry Vegan to provide plant based options ‘On the Go’. There are some exciting plans for The Hungry Vegan in the next few months, but I won’t reveal too much at this point!
7. How have you found your experience at Newmarket Kitchen so far?
I find the community in Newmarket Kitchen wonderful, it is a supportive and encouraging environment. The variety of food businesses there is fantastic and I have found staff and members friendly, helpful and insightful. It is a great space for setting up a business.
8. Has there been any major benefit of producing here at Newmarket Kitchen?
A friend who is a respected and successful vegan chef recommended Newmarket Kitchen to me and encouraged me to take the plunge, which I did after visiting Newmarket Kitchen and meeting people. I find the opening hours and accessibility great. Also as a member you’re not just paying rent for space, you become part of something that is hugely beneficial to anyone starting off, you need a friendly, professional environment. Newmarket Kitchen is very well run.