We had the good fortune of connecting with Dianna King and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dianna, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I have always been an entrepreneur and foodie. I remember founding the first physics class at my community college during my time as a high school and college student simultaneously through the dual enrollment program offered by my local college. My parents were also leaders and showcased it daily as entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry.
I became more interested in entrepreneurship in 2016. I transitioned into a vegan diet after my father was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. His progression slowed after incorporating more plant based meals into his diet. However, he passed away the following year. The experience made me more conscious of the importance of a diet to my overall short and long term health. Especially after reading articles citing that veganism could reduce progression and in rare cases cure cancer and hearing from doctors who treated him about the importance of a healthy diet.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I have a family history of cancer and it has inspired me to make the change to a vegan diet during June 2016. However, plant based foods were not accessible and popular during that time. I couldn’t help but feel that if plant based foods were more accessible in my community, it could have potentially saved my father and many more people in a similar situation.
I promised myself that I would start a plant based food business after graduation. I graduated in Spring 2019 with a BS in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech and am excited to be keeping my promise to myself!
Shortly after hosting community dinners in 2016 to address the needs of people just like myself that were health conscious and have dietary restrictions/food allergies. I received a lot of compliments on the mac and cheese I would make and was told by many that cheese and dairy is a really hard alternative to find due to not finding one that could satisfy their cravings via taste, looks, and convenience.
I worked on perfecting the recipe for 2 years and met Eric Thompson who became a co-founder and helped me continue the perfection process for the recipe for about a year since he could still eat dairy and had a more familiar taste of cheese.
Plant based foods have rapidly grown in popularity the last 5 years. However, there are still a limited amount of choices available for consumers looking for plant based options that are allergen friendly, clean label, eco-friendly, and delicious. In fact, allergy restrictions from dairy to soy and nut allergies are only becoming more common in households, whether they are plant based or not. This presents a major barrier to families and friends looking to shop for/cook and/or eat together at home or at restaurants, as catering to diverse dietary restrictions is a major pain point. We want to make the dinner table, a bedrock of community, more inclusive.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a Georgia Tech Engineer, I’m no stranger to solving hard problems. I currently work fulltime as a research engineer. It has actually worked out to my benefit. I combine my STEM background with my vegan lifestyle to create new delicious plant-based recipes blended to perfection, all with a clean label. Not an easy task mind you.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned, and am probably still learning, is to be patient with myself as an entrepreneur. There is a lot of information coming your way everyday and you have to learn to accept it but focus on your journey. I like to think of the journey as a marathon and not a race.
Eat Unrestricted is a purpose driven business for me. I’m doing it because I believe this philosophy of how we create our foods and foods themselves can change lives, mindsets, and communities for the better. If what we build can help people make better and more inclusive decisions for themselves, loved ones, and the environment, it’s worth the work.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Whenever we are in Houston, we like to hang out around Rice Village. Lots of cool shops to check out and Eric really likes Walkable neighborhoods. You could easily spend a few hours just dipping in and out of places. Another Fave is SoulFood Vegan. We love to support Black owned Vegan Business!!
Lastly, because I’m a nerd, if you get a chance, definitely visit NASA!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Definitely want to Shout Out Miriam Elghani from Miriam’s Garlic Goodness for connecting us with Shoutout HTX in the first place! She has been a great friend and source of wisdom in the food industry.
Same for Aubrey Leynard of Aubsauce who was one of our Earliest Mentors!
Also my business partner and boyfriend, Eric Thompson. He mentors young women innovators and entrepreneurs at Spelman College!
First 8: Photos Taken by Dianna King and Eric Thompson Last 2: Cynthia Ruff (AKA Darling Down South)