CINCINNATI — There is a lot of thought, hard work and love that goes into each Like Mom's Only Vegan baked goods now being sold at Findlay Market.
"I definitely think the entrepreneurial challenge is way underrated," said Naimah Sams. "Nobody really knows about that. They see all the glitz and glamour on the screen. They think, 'Oh, this is what I want to be,' but it really is hard work."
Sams is the marketing and branding director for Like Mom's Only Vegan. The vegan bakery opened its first semi-permanent shop at Findlay Market last Friday.
"Vegan is actually no animal products," Sams explained. "So that's like no eggs, no dairy, no animal-derived fat, anything that's an animal byproduct."
Naimah's mother, Naomi Sams is the "mom" behind the line of locally-made cookies, cupcakes and other vegan sweets.
Naomi Sams began making vegan baked goods and sharing them with friends after adopting the strict dietary lifestyle a few years ago, Naimah said.
"She actually started cooking and baking for her family, actually, for me and my siblings," Naimah recalled of her mother creating baked goods without traditional dairy-based ingredients. "And then from there, she's allowed people like her friends to try her cookies and cakes and everything and they are like, 'Wow, this is really good. You should sell it.'"
Naomi Sams registered Like Mom's Only Vegan as a business with her own mother, Naimah's grandmother, Sakile Chenzira, and began selling her baked goods at the Northside Farmers Market in 2015.
"The real test came out here with people who may not be as familiar with vegan products," Naimah said of when her mother first set up at the farmers' market.
The response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive, according to Naimah.
"They were like, 'Wow, this isn't dry, there's no texture loss. I still have all the flavor of a regular cookie, the chewiness. Everything is still there.'"
Naomi then began selling her vegan cookies and cupcakes at other area farmers' markets and taking orders online at likemomsonlyvegan.com.
Naomi also recruited Naimah and Naimah's two younger sisters to help grow Like Mom's Only Vegan as she continued to make the baked goods in her home kitchen, Naimah said.
The work helped Naimah to raise the profile of her design studio, Above the Grid.
"My mom has always had several businesses in the past outside of just the cookie business," she said. "She's always encouraged us to find ways to start our own businesses."
Naimah's two sisters now spend part of their time managing Like Mom's Only Vegan farmers' market stand and the shop at Findlay Market. They also are helping Naomi bake after their mother started using one of Findlay Kitchen's industrial ovens to increase production.
"All of that has been a lot of work for her (Naomi), but overall she feels like it is worth it and she's in there," Naimah said. "It's a highly coveted space."
Naimah said working with her mother, grandmother and sisters continues to be extremely rewarding in many ways.
"It's been very motivational, it's been very inspirational to see her always working hard and going for it," Naimah said. "Basically, we all get the chance to spend some time together and run this business together and to enjoy its success together."
For the latest information, including hours for both farmers' markets and Findlay Market shop locations, visit Like Mom's Only Vegan on Facebook.