No Evil Foods, sold in 25 states, is growing in Weaverville
In 2014, partners Sadrah Schadel and Mike Woliansky brought their vegan protein products to an Asheville farmers market and sold out on the first day. Today, No Evil Foods sells its “plant meat” offerings such as Pit Boss ‘Pulled Pork BBQ’ and The Stallion ‘Italian Sausage’ in more than 250 stores in 25 states, including Earth Fare, Whole Foods Market, MOM’s Organic Market and independent grocers.
To accommodate revenue growth averaging 100% annually since 2014, No Evil Foods plans to add about 15 workers by year-end, doubling its current workforce. This summer, the company will move into a 15,000-square-foot space in the former Arvato DVD-making plant in Weaverville, about 10 miles north of Asheville. It currently works out of a shared-use kitchen space on Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College’s Candler campus.
“It’s one of the reasons we moved to Asheville,” says Schadel in describing the Blue Ridge Food Ventures incubator, which provides 24-hour access, professional equipment and other resources to artisan- and natural-foods startups. With business booming, “we’re pushing at the seams of what’s possible at Blue Ridge,” she says. The expansion will allow the business to add new retailers and product lines.
Schadel, who was raised as a vegetarian, learned to make much of her food from scratch since meat-free protein options were limited. “I got an early sense of how to create flavors and make food that was innovative and delicious.”
Previously living in upstate New York, the couple was involved in sustainable agriculture, which led to a curiosity about the origins of food. “A lot of protein alternatives were made with a lot of ingredients that I didn’t recognize,” Schadel says. So she started “playing around in the kitchen,” applying many of the same processes involved in meat-making to plant protein.
The partners launched No Evil Foods after moving to Asheville, where they worked in the hospitality industry. Schadel, 36, heads up branding, product development and innovation, while Woliansky, 38, is known as the “head meatpacker,” handling operations and logistics. The plant-based products are made with non-GMO ingredients including beans, wheat, yeast and organic herbs and spices.
Last fall, No Evil Foods received a $50,000 grant from the Durham-based NC IDEA Foundation, one of six recipients from a pool of more than 150 applicants. Until then, the business was funded by personal investments and loans obtained from Asheville nonprofit Mountain BizWorks and a Whole Foods initiative for small businesses.
The “do no evil” mantra impacts everything at the company, Schadel says, including how they select ingredients and treat employees. With the expansion, workers will receive a “living wage” of at least $13 an hour. Higher pay for hospitality workers is a big topic in Asheville, which relies on a tourism economy.
“Asheville is very affordable when moving from places like New York, but if you’re from here, it’s getting harder and harder for people [in the hospitality and food service industries] to get by,” Schadel says.
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