MEET Brittany Grace: good-food crafter and mobile bodega builder
Have you ever been on the go and wished for something easy to eat yet oh-so-healthy? Well, kiss the days of calling a McSalad a healthy and quick meal and say hello to the wonderfully tasty, perfectly affordable, and cutely portable goods of Brittany Grace Shiver. Brittany runs Grace’s Goodness, a sustainable food business spreading its treats across town in environmentally friendly reusable mason jars (she even has a financial incentive to return your empty containers!). We recently tasted her wares while talking shop about what inspires this self-made chef to take on convention with her food.
Tell us about your project:
Grace’s Goodness is a sustainable food business. Our products change according to the seasons and I make everything from scratch with mostly local farm ingredients. Currently I am transforming a truck I purchased earlier this year. It will be outfitted to run on vegetable oil and will be filled with all the stuff I make. It will also include some other artisan goods and fresh farm produce. It will kind of be a bodega on wheels but more convenient and healthy.
The project is currently on Kickstarter which is a great site for businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs like myself! First you get your project approved for the site. You have to explain what you want to do and why its important. You provide an outline of the financial requirements and the date you need it by. It is up to the public to pledge the money and up to you to provide them with something in return. I will be providing delicious food.
How did you get started?
When I first moved to Atlanta after college, I waited tables at 5 Seasons Brewing at the Prado in Sandy Springs. At the time it was one of the newer farm to table and organic centered restaurants in the city. I fell in love with the food and the way it all worked. The community, the interaction between chefs and farmers. I started learning as much as I could in the kitchen. I started cooking. I continued to be involved all through graduate school and my former career. I decided I wanted to do it full time. I wanted to create that healthy food in a way that was accessible and easy for people to eat when they are busy. When you are in school or working a lot, good food is harder to find.
What challenges have you faced?
Changing from having someone else take care of your paycheck to working totally for yourself. Also coming up with all your own ideas and bringing them to life all by yourself. It is rewarding and super fulfilling but you can’t take a day off. You cant’ call in sick. Instead of having time carved out for weekends or total days off, you have to do work.
Conveying what it is I want to achieve is also a challenge, especially explaining the concept to people who are not familiar with it.
What inspires you to do this type of work?
My friends. Bad food. Being outside. Local farmers and their produce. The change of seasons. Especially my sister, she has Downs Syndrome and works in a home with people with similar challenges. She doesn’t get to make her own food choices, and neither do her coworkers. It’s important to me that people like her get healthy choices. People with physical or mental challenges shouldn’t have to eat something bad just because it is easier to make. It is not heathy and doesn’t do them any good.
What kind of impact do you hope to have on the community?
I want people to enjoy eating and feel better when they eat. I want people to look forward to cooking and learning more about their food. I hope to achieve a sense of community- 3 months ago I didn’t know that many people at the farmers markets, whereas now people come up to me and share their knowledge. How to grow something, how they used something, or who they shared their food with. These stories are important to me and really something special.
Who are you collaborating with?
Chef Dave and Chef Phillip at 5 Seasons Brewing help me a lot in the kitchen. Many farmers around town. Anyone at East Atlanta Village Farmers Market. Oakleaf Mennonite Farm, Gaia Gardens, Henley Farms, Steve Miller Farms. Great farmers market managers like Katie Hayes and Duane Marcus have been incredibly helpful.
I do the rest myself!
Would you like to see this project replicated or expanded?
Still working on that. GG will never be a mega corporation since that defeats its purpose. However, once I finish the truck I will expand my reach. I hope my actions might influence people to replicate the project. If someone wants to have a similar business model I can help with that- figuring out how they can help the community access slow food.
Long term I want to figure out how to cater to low income communities and schools. They could really benefit from healthy foods.
What kind of help do you need to reach your goals?
As of today I need $1,101 to fulfill my Kickstater goal.* It isn’t unreachable. If everyone who had already pledged gave a little more I would reach my goal. The campaign ends this Thursday.
Other than that, people just being a patron at the farmers market and buying delicious food is really helpful. My work is supported primarily by word-of-mouth from customers.
What are some issues you notice affecting your project?
Education is a huge piece of the problem. Right now food is really trendy. People like to eat food, take photos of food, blog about food. But the education piece is lagging behind. You might not know where it came from or why its good or bad for you. I think that is important for the long-term success of local food, as far as how we continue to feel about it, and how it affects the local economy.
What are some of your favorite organizations around Atlanta?
How can interested readers find you?
What FEED’s your soul?
* This interview was conducted July 31st. The information contained here is subject to change.