We had the good fortune of connecting with Johnnie Garcia and Jacob Sanchez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Johnnie and Jacob, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking has played a huge part in both of our lives, at the beginning of the year in 2020 I was working full-time at a job that overworked me and did not make me happy at all. Jacob has just moved from Pennsylvania and took a leap of faith for our relationship after we met in New York and fell in love. I was struggling with the idea of quitting and starting a meal prep business, and in that time I was asking the universe to send me signals or I guess a better word would be a sign that everything was going to work out. By January 2020 I was fired from my job with absolutely no back-up plan, and I couldn’t help but think that was the universes way of nudging me out of my comfort zone and telling me “hey, you have this knowledge of culinary, nutrition and veganism so what exactly are you waiting for?” After getting fired from my job I decided to get a job part time at a vegan diner in Dallas, and through there I was surrounded by my favorite thing: food. Jacob always would encourage me to start up the business, but I just did not have enough faith that I could actually run a business after being an employee my entire working career. in March of 2020 COVID hit and I lost everything, I was laid off from my part-time job and forced to drop out of school (I was pursuing Journalism at the time), left with nothing and no idea where to turn. Jacob was unfortunately also laid off from his job. After a few months of sulking in depression from the current state of the world Jacob finally nudged me to start Herbiveats. Jacob actually helped me on the back end of things getting it started up and even named Herbiveats and from there it took off. We started off the first week with only one customer, but all it took was one person to believe in us and I took my knowledge of my culinary and nutrition classes, years of veganism, Jacobs technological background and working in restaurants and we embarked on this adventure together. By the second week we had over 50 orders, by the second month we were averaging over 110 orders weekly. We took the leap of faith to use our last little money we had saved up to invest in something we were both so passionate about and it brought us so much more than we could imagine. I think about how everything leading up to the moment of that leap of faith was a stepping stone to where we needed to be and what we were destined for: helping the community, our families and friends and most of all encouraging people to eat more plant based and showing them the versatility of a plant based diet.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What sets us apart from others is our own personalities and ideas of course. Throughout this business we have had the pleasure of connecting with so many other individuals and business owners, and a lot of people will tell us that they haven’t ever had food like ours or people who tell us that our food brings out a sense of nostalgia from their childhoods. It makes us happy because although we like to keep our food traditional of course it isn’t exactly what everyone grew up eating, because it’s vegan and for people who aren’t vegan it can be scary to venture off into plant-based eating. It excites us every time to be in the kitchen and curate something so delicious and know that no animal was harmed, and that the people who eat it can not only enjoy it but not have to worry as much about the health benefits. When it comes down to our food and what we put into it we try our absolute best to not sacrifice the flavors and elements that made us love it so much.
Professionally where we are today has taken a LOT, I will say there have been hardships whether it be staying up until 6am making Gorditas, then working an event until 7pm then doing meal preps the following day or making hard decisions on which direction and what opportunities to seize. The hardest part of this business is not having much to rely on when it comes to the business aspects. Jacob and I are both first generation business owners, we have overcome the challenges by relying on each other and supporting one another’s ideas, encouraging each other, inspiring each other to overcome the lows and most of all being partners in life and business. We trust and love each other immensely so it helps us in that sense because we know we can always count on each other even when the going gets rough.
The lessons we have learned along the way have been both hard and educational, we’ve learned how to be open to criticism, how to face the adversities that come with being latin and vegan, how to run a business and keep a balance between that and personal life (which we still struggle with), how to put your heart in every meal and in every day because you never know what’s going to happen next, and most of all we’ve learned just how strong willed and hardworking we both are.
We want the world to know that we not only provide meals, sustainability, and affordable access to veganism, but that we do so from a place of nothing but gratitude and the desire to enrich the lives of everyone we come across. To us it’s more than just cooking but it’s a way to express ourselves, pay homage to our lives and culture, and show love to our community.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We would definitely have to hit up some local pop-up shops hosted by DFW Shopz and support our friends I’m Home Coffee Roasters for our cafecito fix and hit up a local minority owned restaurant Vegan Food House. We would stop by some local breweries such as Pegasus City, or Four Corners Brewery and enjoy some of their beers on tap, and then explore downtown- specifically deep ellum which is our favorite place ever to just enjoy some walking around and window shopping. We would have a picnic at celestial park where I would make tacos and fruit bowls and we would watch the sun go down while listening to indie. We would definitely go stop by La Pulga (Traders Village) which is located in Grand Prairie so that we could shop small businesses like my tia who sells refinished furniture (Moms Farmhouse treasures), and get our fruta fix at a local stand. We would end the week off by getting some micheladas, and topocheladas from La Tapatia Fruteria in Grand Prairie, Texas- owned by our great friend Miguel Sanchez.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
So when we first started out Herbiveats of course we were not based out of a huge commercial kitchen and so we were home-based. My parents allowed us to cook out of their kitchen every Sunday from sun-up to sun-down for meal preps and not only that but helped us and assisted us in doing dishes, making sure orders got to customers by allowing people to pickup from their own home, and just being such a huge support system. My parents actually prior to Herbiveats did not eat vegan that often. Being that we grew up in your typical latin household, meat was always served with every meal and veganism was unheard of. My parents are now one of our biggest supporters whether it be purchasing every single week (they are now almost 100% vegan), allowing us to use their home as a pickup location still (in addition to our Dallas and flowermound pickup locations), or helping us at events. They are by far one of our biggest supporters and without them Herbiveats would not have been possible. Of course without our friends, family and Herbiveats supporters we would not be where we are today and we are so humbled and grateful for the opportunities and platform they give us to express ourselves in every way possible.