Scrolling through Instagram is a dangerous game; these days, it seems delicious food is on every page. As someone who likes to cook at home, tasty and healthy meals are the first ones to catch my eye, which is why Sweet Potato Soul is so appealing.
Jenné Claiborne’s insta feed is nothing short of food goals: every meal entices you with color and health, not to mention the best part: it’s all vegan. Sweet Potato Soul by Jenné Claiborne is a successful vegan food and lifestyle blog, and now it’s a cookbook as well. However, becoming a vegan chef is not exactly what Jenné set out to do.
Becoming vegan was a life-changing moment for Jenné. Originally a vegetarian, she moved to New York City as an aspiring actress and got a job at a vegan restaurant. Jenné wanted to be in theater, but her transition to veganism changed her passion; it became more meaningful to her to be vegan than to be an actress. At this moment, she realized that she had more passion for food than acting. Combining this feeling with her belief that she always wanted to be an entrepreneur, Jenné was prepare to pursue a new path, one that “changed every aspect of [her] life.” While a career in food was not what Jenné set out to do, she always loved food, cooking and eating.
“In a way, I did know that this was something I wanted to do,” she said. Her junior year of college, Jenné discovered healthy eating, and as her interest grew, she said that developing a cooking show and cookbook “had been on [her] mind.” Thus, Sweet Potato Soul was born.
Jenné’s debut cookbook is vegan soul food, inspired by the soul food that is tied to her family’s roots.
“It’s the type of food people say you can’t make vegan,” she said. However, Jenné believes that you can “veganize” anything, and she did. Her book contains food that people are familiar with, but vegan style. Her favorite recipe in the book is the sweet potato pie. She was the “most focused on getting it right,” as it was her grandmother’s recipe. But, putting together a cookbook isn’t necessarily just collecting all the right recipes.
Most of her recipes came from scratch through brainstorming and research, leading to the creation of a list of tasty dishes to develop. Her recipe testers came from her online community; she sent the recipe to people who did not live alone, as her goal for these recipes is for them to be shared.
Sweet Potato Soul is Jenné’s full-time job, and social media and the blog are the business. She was previously a private chef in New York, and during this time, she was making no money from the blog or Youtube channel. Now that Sweet Potato Soul is her job, social media, the blog and Youtube are just different parts of the business. Jenné believes that social media is important, especially if a business is online.
“[Social media] is just as much part of a business as anything else might be,” she said.
Social media also presents one of the greatest challenge’s Jenné encountered in her entrepreneurial journey. Growing her business was difficult, and it was “so easy to look at numbers and compare yourself to others,” whether it be in the amount of books sold or followers. Jenné advises working really hard at the growth, which may be intuitive for some, and as far as changes in social media algorithms, just pay attention.
She considers her biggest career success being able to do it all. When she worked as a private chef, Jenné knew she wanted to work for herself, but it’s difficult to get started. She “felt like it took forever,” but acknowledges that she may have been distracted from her entrepreneurial goal when she was a chef, blogger and a Youtuber at once.
Jenné isn’t in Sweet Potato Soul by herself; she gets to work with her husband each day. She said it works because they like to spend time together, and they divide the work based on what each person likes to do. Overall, the experience is fun, creative and collaborative.
As far as future goals, Jenné is actually looking forward to a bit of a break. She was just married and has been hustling with her book launch, but she has some personal goals she is prioritizing. Jenné has been practicing yoga for 10 years wants to deepen her practice. She looks forward to starting a family andwants to enjoy life a little more. As for her career, Jenné would love to do more collabs on Youtube.
Jenné’s favorite quote embodies her entire message: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” She said that the quote conveys an idea of respecting others, animals included, and inspires others to be kind to one another.
Author: Sam Raudins
Author Bio: Sam is a journalism major at Ohio State who lives for football and good iced chai lattes. She is an intern at Harness, Social Media Editor at The Lantern and Senior Editor at Her Campus Ohio State. In the past, Sam has created her own blog and developed a football column at Her Campus called “Femme Football.”
Link to social media or website: http://theinternalmonologue.weebly.com | Instagram @sgr3| Twitter @sam_raudins