Matthew Mullens has a passion for sustainability. Growing up in Charlotte, Matt chose to move to Greensboro to attend NC A&T State University and study industrial engineering.
Through his education and a couple of experiential learning opportunities, Matt realized that to “walk the walk” of sustainability, he needed to become vegan and to lift up veganism as a lifestyle supportive of sustainability. From there, Empasta Food was created.
After conducting some market research, Matt realized that there are few options for vegans in the restaurants in Greensboro, but that our city’s grocery stores had success selling vegan ingredients.
“The issue isn’t demand, the issue is availability.”
Matt explains that one of the things that is most difficult for people to give up when becoming vegan is comfort food – specifically mac and cheese. Matt started experimenting in the kitchen and came up with a dairy free, soy free, gluten free, nut free, and fully vegan mac and cheese recipe that can win over the most insatiable of cheese lovers!
Fast forward to April 2018, and Matt pitched his vegan mac and cheese business model during Idea Launch with Launch Greensboro. In addition to gaining knowledge on how to start his own business, this experience also led him to be hired as an intern with Launch Greensboro while being a 2018 Fellow through Campus Greensboro. Without a formal business background, Matt explained that his internship and experience through the Fellows Program taught him about entrepreneurship, marketing, business decision-making, and the importance of networking, all which have served him well as he propels Empasta Food forward as a profitable business.
An avid cheese lover myself, I was a bit skeptical that vegan mac and cheese may not curb my cravings. However after trying a sample at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, I am sold! I even bought a bowl of sauce to create my own vegan dish later that evening. Want to try Matt’s vegan mac and cheese? Follow Empasta Food on Instagram (@empastafood), email them at email@example.com, OR go see them at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market on November 17th and November 24th.
“Veganism and sustainability go together!”
Matt’s final advice on his journey to becoming a serial entrepreneur? “Have an end goal and communicate your goals to others. People are interested in supporting you! Most importantly, stay passionate about your business so that you can find the energy and motivation to work on it.”