Bringing High-Quality Vegan Goods to NYC with Vegan Divas’ Fernanda Capobianco

September 20, 2013

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green is Good. We’re so honored to have Fernanda Capobianco with us today. She’s the founder of Vegan Divas, the vegan bakery in New York, and welcome to Green is Good, Fernanda. FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: Hi, John. How are you? JOHN SHEGERIAN: So happy to have you on today. I’m so well and so thankful for your being on the show. This is such an important segment and your work is so wonderful. I have to tell my listeners right now I’ve been in your store no less than 20 times and I’ve eaten all of your wonderful pastries and each one of them is better than the next, so we’re just so thrilled to have you on today. FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: Thank you, John. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Okay. So, you know, Fernanda, you have such a fascinating story and journey before you started Vegan Divas. Can you share a little bit about your history and how this all came to be? FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: Sure. I was born in Brazil and, of course, as everyone knows, it’s a very big meat country and I think I was born vegetarian and vegan so I was always struggling because I was very, very sick and I always had problems when my weight, my health, my skin, and then I just decided to become vegetarian so after that, my life changed completely. I never even have to go to the doctor or anything like that I’m enjoying life so I decided to go into the food business in Brazil and then I used to own a restaurant there. I was very successful but then I wasn’t happy because I couldn’t even eat my food so three years after that, I decided to stop my business and I used to have one restaurant, to cafes, and a catering business and I decided to move to New York so I moved to New York 2009 and then I have a sweet tooth and I realized that there were not good vegan desserts in New York or in America so I started researching everything and then I just decided to open Vegan Divas and the name Vegan Divas is because I’m not a hippy or I really like good stuff so it was more like a joke so everything at the bakery looks beautiful. It tastes delicious but our challenge is to create a beautiful pastry with an incredible taste because it doesn’t matter if it’s vegan or healthy but if it doesn’t taste good, people don’t like it. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You’re so right, and for our listeners out there now. I’m going to attest to everything Fernanda says. She has a wonderful store on 1st Avenue between 74th and 75th, but she also has a beautiful website, which I’m on right now. It’s www.vegandivasnyc.com. For all of our listeners, not only in the United States, but around the world, if you want to buy her great products, she has an amazing online program where you can buy and enjoy her wonderful and delicious products from her website, so Fernanda, share a little bit about you wanted to now open a store because you had a sweet tooth and you wanted to make good tasting desserts. Can you talk a little bit about the first time when you opened the store? How was it received and how has it been going since you opened this wonderful beautiful bakery? FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: Yes, so I opened the business in 2010. Back then, I didn’t have the store. I used to have the wholesale business. It was a big challenge because when I used to say that the product was vegan, people wouldn’t even try because they were so scared of the name vegan so I used to give the pastries and desserts for free. People wouldn’t even taste they were so scared but now I think that one year ago the vegan became just such a everyone was like so curious and people know about it and became a trend but much more than that. It’s a lifestyle for people because even if they’re not vegan, they really want to eat this way because they realize that they got education and they know that it’s healthier and better for you and they just feel better so now I see in the store not just ladies but a lot of men and older people and it’s everyone. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Well, when I’m in your store, there’s young children in the store and young children don’t know the difference between if it’s bought at a supermarket or at your place and I know when they eat your food, they’re always smiling big because, as you said earlier, the food tastes so wonderful that you produced. Children don’t lie. When children I see bite your cookies or your cupcakes and they have a big smile on their face, they only want something that tastes good. They’re not thinking about everything that goes in it when they’re 3, 4 and 5 years old and I see tons of children in your store always happy. FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: Exactly. Exactly. We have so many moms with kids and toddlers and they’re so happy. They’re like, ‘Oh please give me this donut,’ and just their faces, they get so excited, it makes me happy every day that I see them. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Talk a little bit about your specialties. What are your specialties and what makes your products, Fernanda, special? FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: Our specialty is the donut because we’ve created that because I realized that people in America, they love donuts so across the country so I said why not making a donut that is baked and not fried so we started doing that and we came up with this incredible donut made with apple cider vinegar and we use stout flour and then organic tofu so it’s really very, very moister. People like it better than a regular donut that is fried because it’s not heavy. The good thing about this food is when you eat, you don’t feel guilty. It’s a pleasure but you don’t feel guilty. After dessert, you will eat and after, you say, ‘Oh this is so much butter and cream, it makes me sick,’ but this dessert, you can have the pleasure and after it you still feel good. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s so true. You’re so right about that so donuts are your specialty and what other products do you have there? FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: We have the cakes; carrot cakes, chocolate cake, all the cakes. We have muffins. We have now savory items, quiche, we have rice bars, we have savory cookies, we have this incredible chocolate mousse, we have gluten free macaroons. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I’ve eaten those macaroons. I’ll tell you what, they are so delicious. Every one of your products is so delicious. So, what makes your products special is that you’re cooking them and you’re baking them with all vegan products so they don’t make you feel sick. Can you explain to our audience though, like you said, a lot of people are still scared of the word vegan even though it’s the trend and it’s going to be growing from here on in. What’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian for those who don’t know yet? FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: Vegan is much more strict, so when the product is vegan, there is no type of animal product at all. For example, there are no dairy. There is no honey. There is nothing that comes from animal products. That’s the vegan and the vegetarian, there is still cheese and dairy. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, you cook with no cheese or dairy? No cheese or dairy in your products? FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: No cheese or dairy, and it’s really very important because sometimes people think that because they’re vegetarian they’re still healthy, but the truth is that the dairy has so many problems because of its casein, the protein that it has in the dairy, so really, if you’re already vegetarian, you should go all the way down and become vegan. It’s just easier. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And, for those who aren’t yet, what’s your tips? You’ve had this journey already and so many people now turn to you because you’ve become a leader and you have a wonderful platform you’ve created for yourself. What’s your tips for our listeners that want to become vegan? How do they start this journey so they can look and feel more like you? When I met you, not only are you thin and very beautiful, but you look very, very young so obviously, you’re doing good things for yourself with this diet. What’s the tips for our listeners out there? FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: The first thing is just read the labels and when you’re buying your food, you have to see because sometimes it’s vegan or vegetarian, but it’s very processed food so you want to be vegan or vegetarian, but you have to be healthy so that’s the most important thing so try to avoid processed foods and everything you try to eat is just — there’s nothing better than a homemade meal, so try to stick with whole wheat grains and vegetables. That’s the best way to go. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Fernanda, we talked earlier at the top of the show and I’m going to give it again, your wonderful website, www.vegandivasnyc.com. Share with our listeners, because, like I said, this show will air in over 170 markets across America and then it gets uploaded on iTunes and it goes across the world after it airs on Sirius XM. Share with our listeners, if they don’t live in New York City, where do you ship to and what can they buy online and you can ship to them so that they can enjoy your delicious and wonderful baked goods? FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: Okay, people, it’s very easy. If you live anywhere across the country or Canada or anywhere, we ship the goods in a beautiful package. Everything comes in a beautiful box with plastic wrap so you don’t have to worry. Everything will come perfectly. Just go online, www.vegandivasnyc.com, and we have all the beautiful gifts and anything you can order. All the donuts and anything comes perfect. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You know, Fernanda, I don’t want to give away any secrets, but you told me that you have written a book. When is that book coming out and what’s going to be in it? So our listeners can get excited to buy your book when it comes out. FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: Yes. We’re doing this incredible book and for once, it will be a book, not just vegan, but will be like a beautiful book for you to have, like a coffee table, so it’s incredible. The quality of the pictures is so beautiful. We’ll have recipes and tips on health style. It’s really beautiful, the book. It’ll come out in November. JOHN SHEGERIAN: In November. So, it’s going to give some of your recipes and some healthy lifestyle tips? FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: Yes, and we’re doing it through Harper Collins. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wonderful. Well, we’re going to have you back on to talk about that book once it comes out but talk a little bit about we’re down to the last three minutes of the show. Can you share your vision of where you want to take your wonderful brand, Vegan Divas, and how far you want to go with it? What’s your dream and your vision? FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: Yes. We opened the flagship store in the Upper East Side in Manhattan one year now in August and now our goal is to be spread the vegan world in all the retail stores across the country. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, you want to get more of your product in retail stores across the United States. Right now, you don’t have any plans for more stores? You just want to continue the wholesale business and get more great products into big retailers and things of that such. FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: Exactly. We want to see everyone in the country having the chance to eat an incredible dessert or baked goods with a great quality like Vegan Divas. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s going to be wonderful and we’re down to the last minute or so. Any tips? We have a lot of young women that want to be entrepreneurs out there across the United States and the world. Any tips for them on how to get going and how to be an entrepreneur? You’ve had a life of being an entrepreneur. What’s some of your few tips on how they could start? FERNANDA CAPOBIANCO: You know, if you have an idea and if you have a passion, every day you have to stick with your idea even if sometimes it’s really hard because it’s much easier to work for someone or do another simple job but if you really have an idea that is great, and you believe in it, you can’t give up. Every day, you have to follow your passion and follow your dream and you can’t give up. It’s very hard but at the end of the day, it will make you happy and it’s really the best sensation you can have because when you see your project happen already and it’s there, you’ll be really, really happy. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is so perfect and like I said, Fernanda, we’re going to have you back on once your book comes out so you can promote the book and more people can enjoy getting your book and learning how to live a more healthy lifestyle. For our listeners out there that live in the New York region, please got to her wonderful store on 1st Avenue between 74th and 75th. It’s Vegan Divas. For those who don’t live in New York, it’s www.vegandivasnyc.com. Please buy her products. They’re delicious. I’ve enjoyed all of them, as has my family and my children and we all are huge fans of Fernanda’s great work. Fernanda Capobianco, you are an inspirational entrepreneur and truly living proof that green is good.