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Running a business

Eden Hagos of Black Foodie is celebrating Black food and culture

Name: Eden Hagos

Location: Detroit, MI and Toronto 

Pronouns: She/Her 

Business: BLACK FOODIE— A media and events company that celebrates Black culture through food.

Describe yourself in three words: Perseverant, bold, kind

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Why did you decide to start your own business? How did you get started? 

I came from a family of food entrepreneurs—my family had a spice market and cafe in East Africa and they brought their love of food to Canada. I grew up watching them open a restaurant. But it was really experiencing racism while eating out that pushed me to seek out Black restaurants and encourage others to learn more about our amazing food and businesses. 

What is the biggest lesson you learned in the first year? 

To keep going. I spoke out against racism in food and hospitality…I got a lot of pushback and hate from folks who questioned the need for a space for Black people to explore food. It was really hard to get messages that were racist and called for an end to my business and platform. But I learned that I’m a lot stronger than I think, and that my business and my vision are worth fighting for. 

What was the most surprising thing about becoming a business owner? 

How many hats you need to wear—especially at the beginning of your business journey. There’s always something new to learn. I had no experience in graphic design or sales before I started, but as a new entrepreneur with no money I had to figure it out and learn! There are so many new skills and areas I grew in out of necessity. And I’m so grateful for this because now I am able to hire contractors and have a clear idea of what I’m looking for because I had to learn myself. 

How does running your own business make you feel? 

It makes me feel hopeful and proud. I feel blessed to be able to do something I’m passionate about and impact the lives of other Black business owners along the way. With BLACK FOODIE, I’ve had the opportunity to travel and meet so many incredible rising chefs, food entrepreneurs and restaurateurs who have amazing food to share and a story to tell. I feel honoured to know that they’ve invited me to share their story and I’m so proud when I see people trying new African foods or buying new spices because of the work I produce through BLACK FOODIE. It’s awesome to know I’ve helped bring people more flavour while supporting Black business owners. 

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome or are working to overcome? 

Self doubt has been a challenge for me that I have slowly overcome. My vision for my business is so big and I am so excited for the impact I’m making and will continue to make for BLACK FOODIE—but sometimes the dream is so big that I question how I could get there. But then I remember where I came from and how much I’ve accomplished. I had no idea how to turn my love of food and Black culture into a thriving community and business, but I figured it out through trial and error and I’ve learned so much on this journey. Now when I have a big issue I just remember the times I didn't know what I was doing and I figured it out—I connected with mentors, I made mistakes, and sometimes I failed. But I kept going and eventually it worked out and led me on the right path. 

What challenges do you feel are unique to Black small business owners? 

Racism seeps into every area of life and many Black entrepreneurs don’t have large amounts of money from family or friends to launch their business. Funding is a big challenge. I also think business is tough and when you compound that with the ways Black people face racism in general throughout education, healthcare, and real estate, it can feel like an uphill struggle to bring your business to life.

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My business and my vision are worth fighting for.

What are your proudest moments? 

My proudest moments are the ones I didn't capture on the ‘gram or at a big event. It was the conversations with food entrepreneurs and chefs where they shared that I helped them launch their business or gave them the boost they needed to get to the next level. It’s those moments that I cherish the most and that really keep me going. I also just love the joy that food brings to people. Food connects us all and I love seeing the joy on peoples faces when they try a new African dish or get introduced to an amazing new Black chef. 

What are the next big plans you have for your business? 

When I dream, I dream big, and I’m so excited for what’s next. My plan is to grow the production side of my business and continue to tell amazing Black food stories on screens across the world. Look out for shows, books, and amazing events where you can experience the dope flavour we bring to the table. 

When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going? 

When I’m having a tough day, my friends and family inspire me. I’m blessed to have a really supportive group around me and when I experience the really tough times in my business and life that’s who I go to for support. I also love podcasts, and try to tune in to fellow Black funny creators for a dose of inspiration and laughs when I’m feeling down. 

How can Black business owners support each other and their community? 

By being transparent with each other. Oftentimes we feel like we have to have it all together and appear strong. But running a business is hard, there are lots of challenges, and it’s not always fun. I think being real with each other, sharing resources, and being vulnerable is a great way to encourage a fellow business owner that they’re not alone and things do get better. 

What advice would you give to other Black business owners just starting out? 

I would advise Black business owners to trust their gut. You can get advice but there’s nothing like your intuition. The biggest challenges I faced were from ignoring my intuition and thinking someone else knew better than I did for my business. I encourage Black business owners to search inward and trust their spirit. 

How do you make time for yourself while running a business?

The truth is sometimes I don't—sometimes there’s a deadline or a busy period where I don’t have time for myself. But what I try to do now is work a break into my plans and reward myself after a hard stretch of business building. I also try to find ways to incorporate fun into the work that I do and into my daily routine. I love food, and sometimes after a day of testing recipes and lots of emails, I’ll invite friends over to enjoy a meal with me. I get my work done but I also get to break bread with folks who pour into me. 

What advice would you give new business owners about balancing work and mental/physical health?

My advice is to go easy on yourself, don’t compare yourself to the IG entrepreneur doing yoga or killing it at the gym. Do what works for you. I also think there are some simple ways to incorporate rest and physical activity into your work day. When it’s warm outside, I’d take calls while taking a walk or listen to some calming music while working on difficult parts of my business. The little things can make a difference. I encourage new business owners to start with what they’ve got!

What is the single most important healthy habit you've developed that you feel makes you more successful? Why?

Visualization has been a game changer for me. When things are difficult I picture my success, I visualize everything from the room I’m in to the feelings I’ll have in that moment. This has been really helpful for me and there are things I’ve achieved that I visualized and prayed for years ago. Entrepreneurship is tough and it’s so important that you believe in yourself and you remember why you started and where you’re going. 

What’s your “power song” and why? 

“Power” by Beyonce. I love this song because it is so bold and Beyonce owns her power and strength in it. I love playing this song while getting ready for a meeting or cooking. As a Black woman in business there are so many folks who want to take your power, and this song is a reminder to stand firm in your truth and own your power.

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