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Meet Reid Trapani and Sophia Marchese of Happy Seed in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Reid Trapani and Sophia Marchese.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
[REID:] For as long as I can remember, food has played a valuable role in my life. It was the centerpiece of my upbringing and many of my childhood memories! When the lightbulb appeared with the concept of Happy Seed, I wasn’t even surprised that food was my calling.

In September of 2017, my mother passed away from a short battle with breast cancer. After this happened, I questioned the entire situation and became obsessed with health and wellness. I soon realized that a vegan lifestyle was the best way for me to live in order to prevent future diseases, help our planet and the animals. After a few months of this new lifestyle, I became infatuated with recreating flavors and textures that I missed from my past.

Though I studied five years in college at Georgia State and thought that my career path was clearly set, I had no idea that this lifestyle change would expose me to my true calling – cooking plants and enlightening others on the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. I wondered why Atlanta wasn’t buzzing with veganism and its life-changing benefits, and made it my mission to spread the good word with culinary activism. I just want people to feel as great as I do every day by incorporating a variety of whole plant foods into their diet. After all, eating is the most intimate relationship we have with ourselves, so why not treat our insides great?!

Sophia and I enrolled in a plant-based culinary course and began catering events in the fall of 2018. Since then we have worked hard to perfect a menu that Atlanta can get down with.

[SOPHIA:] In college I took a job as a private chef to help a local family with healthy meal prep. As an aspiring publicist, I had never worked in a culinary role prior to this. But I love a challenge, so I accepted the gig anyway. For nearly two years I worked as their chef, discovering how plant foods have the power to fight disease. I became much healthier in my personal diet, but veganism was nowhere near my radar until one day when a friend advised me to watch a popular vegan documentary. Everything changed in a matter of 90 minutes.

All that I was programmed to know about our food system shattered. I fell into a hole of information, misinformation, reality, and truth – jam-packing my days with more documentaries, research, studies, podcasts – everything I could to learn about the realities of plant-based health, animal agriculture, veganism, and ultimately what would become my new lifestyle.

At first, I was pretty pissed off. I was mad about how our top deadly diseases are lifestyle and diet-induced. I was mad about the billions of animal lives exploited every single minute and I was mad about the state of our planet. HOW is this not headlining news, my media-trained mind would think over and over again. Then my anger turned into inspiration… And luckily, I had Reid by my side through all of this. As we realized that we no longer wanted to be a part of the problem, we thought about how we can be a part of the solution.

Together, we adapted to our new lifestyle and uncovered what had been within us all along – the desire to help people, make an impact and eat damn good food. We dreamt up Happy Seed in 2018 and the rest will be history.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Ha, no it hasn’t, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything. We started this journey with very little knowledge in regard to running a business or being entrepreneurs, yet we both knew that if we wanted this bad enough, we would need to outwork ourselves every day and put our heart and soul into every detail.

We also battled with the learning curve of working with a significant other. It’s easy to get sucked into the business side of our relationship, and we quickly realized how crucial it is for us to set time aside to enjoy each other away from work. Music is a very important piece of what makes us Sophia and Reid (we actually met through going to local music shows!) so we make sure to get a dose of concert date nights regularly.

Above all, it was difficult for us both to transition away from a set career path to instead pursue a dream with an unknown destination. There were many days when we sat down and discussed if this is what we really want for ourselves as young professionals and as a couple.

Eventually, we realized it was ultimately self-doubt fueling our worries. Once we eliminated the doubt, the apprehension melted away. It became less about what we wanted and more about what Atlanta needs: delicious plant-based food that can inspire people to eat healthier and to look at veganism with an open mind.

Happy Seed – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Happy Seed is a vegan food and catering company that specializes in nostalgic foods made from plant-based ingredients. We are a scratch kitchen, meaning that we set our vegan business apart from others by making nearly everything in-house. All of our meat substitutes are homemade rather than building on pre-made vegan products. Our goal is to showcase how innovative and sexy plants can be all on their own, and reinforce the fact that food doesn’t have to be dead to taste good.

We are mushroom freaks and incorporate them as much as possible as they are the perfect meat substitute and contain incredible nutrients. Some of our most popular items are Carnitas Tacos, King Philly Sliders, and Mac & Cheese Bites. In addition to our current catering menu, we also offer curated meals tailored to specific events.

Our intent as a plant-based biz is to always provide healthy alternatives to animal products. We never want to compromise that by adding unnecessary ingredients. When the two of us go to a vegan restaurant, we never know how much-added fat or sodium is in the food. Happy Seed wants to assure its customers that health is kept in mind first and foremost.

We’re definitely proud of the love we put into each dish and each event we are asked to cater, and for all the wonderful feedback we have received so far. But ultimately, we are proud of each other. This journey wouldn’t be possible without one another. We are business owners, but first and foremost we are each other’s counterparts. Working on Happy Seed has brought us closer and has strengthened us in ways we would have never imagined.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success is doing something every day that our future selves will be proud of. It’s waking up and being excited about what we are doing and the influence that it will have. Honestly, waking up every day is already a win!

We feel extremely blessed to be in our mid-20s pursuing a dream, and we try to remind each other of this when times get stressful. We both have shared fears of regret and untapped potential, so living each day with purpose (and therefore passion) reassures us that we are on the right track.

Success to us is also knowing that what we’re doing is contributing to the welfare of animals and the health of our planet. It’s knowing that we are doing our best every day to leave the earth a better place than we found it, and inspiring others to do the same.

Being able to do something that we love while helping people change their lifestyle for the better is a massive accomplishment for both of us. Whenever someone tries our food and says “I can’t believe this is vegan!” or their eyes light up during that first bite, we feel extremely humbled. It’s truly the best compliment we can get. It tells us that the food is doing the talking and something has clicked in that person’s head – that it’s possible to indulge and eat vegan at the same time. Veganism isn’t bland or boring or overrated or exclusive. And it’s definitely not just another fad.

It’s here to stay and so is Happy Seed.

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Image Credit:
Lyndsey McDevitt & Erica Joyner

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