I am a Baltimore native, sculptor, installation and culinary artist. Since gradating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003 (BFA with an Emphasis in Sculpture) and 2004 (BA Visual and Critical Studies) as well as studying at Rhode Island School of Design my visual arts practice has shifted to work in the culinary arts. I participated in a pilot culinary arts internship, with the Rebuild Foundation in 2013 and the following Valentine’s Day, made truffles for myself as a radical act of self-care and self-love.
During a “potluck” brunch with six other women artists, curators and creative entrepreneurs, I brought five original flavors of chocolate truffles. The enthusiasm and requests for more, inspired me to take the leap and launch Mindful Indulgences LLC. This entrepreneurial endeavor has been a translation of my passion and interest in culinary arts & food justice within communities of color.
The goal of my culinary practice and entrepreneurship is to create an awareness of how food impacts our well being and quality of life. Each consciously curated confection is made with certified organic, vegan, fair-trade semi-sweet chocolate and infused with certified organic, fair-trade super spices. The nutritional value of each truffle is as much about the healthful nutrient rich ingredients used as it is about the ingredients they do not contain. The highest quality chocolate and Ayurvedic spices are selected with the confidence that each confection is healthful and sustainable. Each indulgence is made with fairly traded cacao and spices that support small scale farmers as well as locally sourced ingredients that contribute to a more sustainable local food system within the Chicago land area.
As I move into year two of business my culinary entrepreneurial goals are to participate in a full farmers’ market season and generate revenue to repackage products. All truffles are sold in box sets and therefore remain as an ideal gift. My goal as a creative working with food is to take nutrient dense, high quality, clean snacks and indulgences and put into the the gift giving language. I want to encourage others to enjoy treats and indulge mindfully.
Instead of settling for the Snickers bar or Reese’s peanut butter cups that are mostly refined sugar, milk and soy I want to offer a confection that tastes just as good and will actually have nutritional benefits for the consumer. Once the Mindful Indulgences brand becomes available in the market and on shelves, sales will be consistent and sustainable. The quotes I’ve received for shelf stable, custom packaging are in the $6,000 range for 25k units. Before I could responsibly afford that level of investment, the work of building a targeted audience is necessary. By March 2016 I forecast the launch into wholesale distribution in Illinois Whole Foods and Mariano’s, with plans to expand distribution in the mid west.
Bringing Mindful Indulgences to market will help sustain my culinary practice and business growth by increasing profit margins and create financial resources for expansion. As a self-funded business owner profits have gone back into the business. With each sale at a pop up shop, artisan market or catering order, all profit has been dedicated to wholesale purchase of ingredients, cost of packaging, vendor fees, shared kitchen rent, liability insurance and “cost of doing business” expenses. Thus far, application and vendor fees associated with participation in markets along with costs of shared kitchen user license and LLC license have absorbed most of the generated revenue. Having funds to support bringing products to market at select City of Chicago Farmers Markets for the 2016 season will have an impact on the ability for the Mindful Indulgences to sustain growth.
The expansion of brand recognition and growth of consumer audience within the greater Chicago area will assist in preparing for wholesale distribution in retail outlets like Whole Foods, Mariano’s, Goddess and Grocer, Dill Pickle Co-op, Plum Market, and Z and H Market Café. As a culinary artist and creative entrepreneur my businesses presence and participation as a vendor at the Good Food Fest will create channels to access capital, finance the growth of my business as well as strategies and resources to move forward with wholesale distribution. An artisan food producer like myself can promote and sell organic, vegan, gluten free and soy free products to the industry representatives.
-Licensed Shared Kitchen Rent $3,900
-Good Food Fest General Exhibitor Fee $880
-Healthy Food Hub Vendor Fee $150
-Vegan Vortex Vendor Fees $100