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Melisser Elliott is the founder of The Urban Housewife, a delightful blog about cooking, traveling, and living vegan. She is the owner of Sugar Beat Sweets, a special-order bakery that serves up homemade vegan cupcakes and cakes.
Melisser has a self-proclaimed sweet tooth and has traveled extensively, always stopping to check out the sweets along the way. The urban housewife decided to open her bakery in an effort to share the world of vegan treats with others.
Sugar Beat Sweets uses high-quality, organic, seasonal, and local ingredients as much as possible. They even make sure that their sugar and chocolate are never processed with any animal ingredients.
The Urban Housewife keeps its readers up-to-date on Melisser's travels around the country and world, as well as on how her business is progressing. Her stories are lively and entertaining and her pictures help her readers pictures the adventures.
And Melisser is also the author of The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life, a guide to crafting, traveling, cooking, and living as a vegan.
We all can learn from the urban housewife!
1. How long ago did you go vegan and how has your life changed since you did?
After a long history with vegetarianism, I went vegan in August of 2007. Besides feeling better than I've ever felt, I've met incredible people & have had the chance to dine on inspiring cruelty free cuisine all over the world. No complaints here!
2. Have you seen other people in your life go vegan after you did? If so, how were you able to help them make the change?
Yes! My husband went vegan, plus my sister and a few friends went vegetarian. I've also helped a few people go back to veganism after slipping. I love to cook for people, so I tend to inundate people with food, which makes the transition easier. Another fun way has been to recommend cookbooks and then bookmark all my favorite recipes and give them tips from my experiences.
3. Your desserts are absolutely gorgeous. If you had to pick just one to give a non-vegan who you hoped to impress, which one would it be?
First of all, thank you! My initial reaction is a chocolate cake, likely with peanut butter or caramel, because it's by far the easiest to fool people with, but my vanilla cake is my personal favorite.
I'm going to say I'd give them my Snickerdoodle cupcakes, they're fun and approachable!
4. I know it's hard to pick favorites, so let's say someone else is bragging about your desserts. What would they say is your best recipe, or maybe the top two?
I'm quite proud of my vanilla cake, although it's not a recipe I've shared with the public, as it's the recipe I use for Sugar Beat Sweets. The vanilla outsells the chocolate quite a bit, especially the Orange Dreamsicle & Snickerdoodle cupcakes. People love the candy corn recipe, it's visually so appealing & nostalgic for many. From my friends, I get requests for pumpkin doughnuts & peanut butter whoopie pies!
5. I love that you own a special order bakery. Can you offer any tips for people who are interested in doing something similar, such as how to find a commercial kitchen, how to advertise for customers, and anything else that might be helpful?
Well, it's a lot of work to coordinate everything! Kitchen rentals are not inexpensive, a good place to start is venues with the equipment you need that have hours opposite of your needs.
If you're flexible with when you work, you have a better shot at finding something affordable. Word of mouth is very powerful in advertising.
I started out donating mini cupcakes to animal rights events in the area & continue to so do, it gets the word out to a major part of my current audience. Also, a nice, clean logo, webpage, and a friendly web presence are helpful. Most of all, be ready to work harder than you ever expected!
6. I know you love to travel. Which of the cities and/or countries you've visited has had the most impressive vegan food?
NYC has the best vegan food in the States and London is pretty fabulous for vegan dining options, but Berlin has really exciting things like vegan doner kebab!
7. What other cities/countries are on your list of places you would love to visit?
Everywhere! I'd really like to go to Barcelona, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Bangkok, anywhere in Ireland, Norway, or Sweden. I'd like to see more of Germany. In the States, Boston, D.C., Atlanta, & Austin are on my list at the moment. Send me anywhere, I'll find the vegan food & write about it!
8. What is your dream vegan job?
Vegan travel & cooking show host!
Thank You Urban Housewife!!
Urban Housewife interview date: 11/24/08