Stay-at-home mom Naomi Sams loves converting meat-eaters with her delicious vegan treats at Findlay Market. The North Avondale/Bond Hill entrepreneur runs Like Mom’s Only Vegan bakery with her mother and her four children, all of whom are vegan.
When and why did you decide to go vegan?
My 23-year-old son was about 1 or 2 when we decided to ditch the animal products. Initially we started with the idea that you are what you eat. That concept evolved into an understanding that we consume the entire animal, including what they consumed while living, as well as their experiences and feelings. In the last decade or so, we’ve been more focused on trying to consume a healthy, balanced diet, as well as practicing compassion.
How did you get started baking for a living?
Since we started our vegan journey, I’ve always tried to provide the foods for my children that their meat-eating peers enjoyed. I didn’t want them to feel like there was something that they were missing or that their food was less fun, so I attempted to make kid friendly foods to keep them interested in a vegan lifestyle. We shared these foods with family and friends, who suggested we sell them. I enjoy cooking but I like baking best so we decided to try out the baked goods.
How did you come up with the concept for Like Mom’s Only Vegan?
Because the idea of LMOV stemmed from creating treats for my children, as mothers have done for generations, it is totally relatable to most people. Cookies and cupcakes for children celebrate accomplishments, console heartbreaks, and give gentle reminders of a mother’s love. We want people to feel those same things, only vegan.
So that’s the inspiration for the name!
We wanted to explain what we offer without clubbing people over the head with veganism. Because of the sentimentality of a mother’s sweet treats, we felt like it would be understood that our products are just like what most of us experienced as children, without animal products.
What’s your best-selling item?
It really depends on the time of year. In the summer, our best-selling item is the Lemon-cran Poppyseed Cookie. This fall/winter, we created a new flavor of cookie, Hot Chocolate, and that one has done really well.
In what ways has this pandemic challenged you?
I love converting the non-believer. Pre-pandemic, we’d hand out samples of each of our cookie flavors. After a taste, many of those non-believers would realize that, even without eggs and dairy, our cookies were still good cookies. For obvious reasons, we’ve had to change that.
Because this is our first year in Findlay Market, we don’t have sales from previous years to compare to this year. But our sales at the farmers’ markets that we’ve done over the last couple of years are down. As a result, we’re encouraging customers to take advantage of our online ordering. They can conveniently walk into our stall at Findlay and pick up their order with no wait.
What’s the best thing about running your business?
I think that question would probably be answered differently depending on which of our team you asked. For me, it’s fulfilling a dream of working side by side with my family and building something that is consistent with a value that we hold very close to our hearts. It hasn’t always been easy but it’s definitely worth it.