We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Kapreta Johnson a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Kapreta , thanks for joining us today. What’s the backstory behind how you came up with the idea for your business?
Brown Suga Vegan came about from a craving for vegan donuts. Awaking one morning in the summer of 2020 desiring but unable to find a vegan donut, Dr. Kapreta began experimenting with recipes to satisfy her craving. From this, she realized that delicious vegan desserts were limited in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. As a result, she began recreating family recipes using vegan ingredients. After a while, family and friends began to inquire about purchasing these delectable desserts and thus, Brown Suga Vegan was born. At Brown Suga Vegan, we like to create desserts that are attached to fond memories of childhood but accommodate a vegan lifestyle and/or food allergies. We want to take the desserts we loved to eat and make them vegan.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
Having grown up baking with her grandmothers, I am no stranger to the oven and a good rolling pin. Having experienced food allergies as a child and new food intolerances as an adult, I know what it feels like to want a dessert or dish and can’t partake of it. As a foodie and a person with food intolerances, I recognize that it is hard to find delicious meals and desserts that taste great and that are good for us.
At Brown Suga Vegan, we provide desserts that are free of animal products (dairy butter, eggs, milk from animals) and animal by-products (white sugar) but don’t slack in taste or flavor. In fact, our motto is “so good, you’ll forget its vegan”. We use things like organic unsweetened applesauce instead of eggs and organic cane sugar instead of white sugar. If our ancestors were able to create delicious meals using what came from the ground, so can we (with a little help).
Brown Suga Vegan’s customers are people who like great food. That includes people who have food intolerances to things such as dairy or eggs, who practice vegan eating, and/or who simply want a great tasting dessert. The fact that our products can be enjoyed by everyone is what makes me proud.
If there was anything I would want potential clients and customers to know about me, it would be that I am a foodie at heart. My food intolerances only expand my ability to create delicious food that can be shared with the world. So, whether you have a food intolerance or you simply want something delicious, Brown Suga Vegan has a dessert your taste buds will appreciate.
Learning and unlearning are both critical parts of growth – can you share a story of a time when you had to unlearn a lesson?
I hold a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Public Policy. My work experience and research involved working with local, state, national, and international organizations. I am a researcher, scholar, international speaker, fundraiser, and much more. However, business owner was not on the list of my titles.
Starting Brown Suga Vegan as a side gig was great because it allowed me to have a foot in both worlds that I loved. However, when I left academia and decided to fully immerse myself in growing the business, I was terrified. I have presented research and facilitated discussions in international rooms but the thought of fully establishing a bakery was scary. I doubted if I had what it took to do this. I doubted myself. I wondered if my products were really that good (and yes, they are!).
It took a shift in my mindset that required me to embrace all of my greatness, not just what I could do in boardrooms. So, I had to stop limiting myself to just my academic achievements. I had to unlearn to the toxic mentality that I am only as good as what is on paper. I had to embrace that I have God-given gifts and talents that were taken for granted. I had to realize that those gifts were not given to me so that I could throw an occasional dinner party for friends and be the one who is designated to prepare certain crucial dishes at family gatherings (because they are just that good). I had to embrace the fact that every gift and talent I have should be used and that they are not second string.
I had to realize and embrace the belief that helping people with food intolerances enjoy delicious desserts is no more important than fundraising to provide housing for persons in need. I had to believe that my desire to advocate for and change the way the world views volunteerism among black and brown people is no more important than my desire to change the way people view vegan food.
I had to, and am still learning to, embrace all of my greatness, each part of it!
What’s been the best source of new clients for you?
Brown Suga Vegan gains customers, friends, from various avenues from pop-up shops, social media, and from word-of-mouth. Originally, we gained new customers (or friends) through my personal social media pages. They were friends and family members who wanted to support my new endeavor. I then joined a few social media groups, mostly Facebook, and from there, gained a few more customers.
Our vendor days started with our first pop-up market in November 2020. In May 2021, we were approved to be a vendor at the Dallas Farmers Market which helped us increase visibility. Shortly after joining as a vendor at the Dallas Farmers Market, I started filming customers unscripted reaction to trying our desserts (most of whom were not vegan). This helped us relay the message that although our products are vegan, they are also delicious (our motto is, “so good, you’ll forget its vegan”). I’ve had customers cry after tasting our food because it brought back memories of them being in the kitchen with their grandmothers. I’ve had customers “interrogate” me about the ingredients because they could not believe that something that good was vegan (LOL). My own father had me ship him an order of oatmeal raisin cookies because he wanted to know the truth for himself (LOL) and yes, he is a fan of the oatmeal raisin cookies!
We are still growing and learning ways to attract new customers and friends. Just a few days ago, Brown Suga Vegan joined TikTok! I’m excited about how we’re growing and how our new customers are finding us. To stay connected to us, follow us on Instagram @ BrownSuga_Vegan, on Facebook @ Brown Suga Vegan, and on TikTok @ Brown Suga Vegan.
- Website: www.brownsugavegan.com
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/BrownSuga_Vegan
- Facebook: https://facebook.com/brownsugavegan
- Other: https://tiktok.com/brownsugavegan
Image Credits: Kapreta Johnson Personal Photo Image Credit: Phoenix Michele Photography (Stephanie Bolton, Owner)