We had the good fortune of connecting with Jody Flood (Stevens) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jody, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I began my business in Houston in 2008, I felt that there was a very large void in the market for people who had dietary restrictions. I had spent 3 years in Los Angeles, where vegan and gluten free had already been a very prominent way of eating, whether it be by lifestyle choice or because of allergies. I used to joke that “Gwyneth Paltrow is vegan, so therefore everyone is vegan….” as in it was trendy. But as I started out here, I found that a lot of my first customers were very underserved in their needs. That it wasn’t just a “trend” but a necessity. I have so many regulars, with children that suffer from life threatening allergies and I’m so glad that I can accommodate them safely and with choices. Also, it’s just a great feeling to be your own boss and have complete autonomy to let my destiny unfold itself within my creativity and ability to help fill that void.
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.
There are challenges every single day. I find that what sets me apart is that I don’t let it rattle me…you just keep moving. Owning a business brings obstacles and every day is a moving target. You just need to learn how to refocus and strive to hit that bullseye. If you don’t hit it today, you can’t let it take you down. You get up and go forward. I feel like remaining humble (without being a pushover) is a huge asset in running a small business. I stay true to my values and my product and if I don’t feel like it’s a fit, I will have that conversation with a potential client. My product may not fit your needs and I don’t let that get to me. I +know+ that I fill the needs for a lot of other people so it all balances out. Being resilient and assertive have been very good traits to run my business successfully.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I absolutely love our museums! Specifically, the Menil collection and Rothko Chapel are two of my favorite spots that I take every single person who visits me! Houston is full of wonderful art installations that are dotted all through the city. It is so amazing. I love that we could go grab a great drink at Better Luck Tomorrow (sit on the patio) or a glass of wine at 13 Celsius with a small nosh before heading to dinner at one of the many options that we have. Some of my fave places to dine, any night of the week would be Coltivare, Nobie’s, Nancy’s Hustle, Squable or Uchi (the Social Hour is where it’s at…) or we might hit up any number of my go to ethnic eateries – Himalaya (for the best Indo-Pakistani food you’ll ever eat), Avesta Persian, Lucy’s Ethiopian. I live in Spring Branch (Koreatown) and there are so many small mom & pop places that I love specifically Korea Noodle House, Bori or Korea Garden….list could go on and on. So many more…one week is not enough to eat your way through H-town.
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?
There are so many in our food community in Houston. I’m surrounded by so much talent and a great deal of support from those that I “came up” with, starting in 2008 as the scene started to evolve.
I look to the female chefs that paved the way in Houston, such as Chef Anita Jaisinghani (of Pondicheri) and Chef Kiran Veerma (of Kiran’s) and I’ve gotten to know them through the years. I try to glean valuable information from them, learning how they hone their business acumen & prowess. It helps me to continue my journey as they have, in remaining true to my product/my brand/my creativeness without wavering.
Also, I feel like my family & close friends have been the largest cheering section in my journey. And, of course, my customers….I am nothing without such a strong base. I have a very loyal following and without that, I wouldn’t be where I am – I feel like they are family too…I watch the cycle of life with a lot of them. Young couple gets married (wedding cake) – then baby is on the way (baby shower or gender reveal), one year later, baby’s first cake and an anniversary celebration, so forth and so on. THIS means everything to me.