How Delish HD Is Turning Your Favorite Classic Desserts Vegan
Healthy desserts? That sounds like a contradiction. There’s no way a vegan dessert can fit all the gooey, sugar-filled, fruit topped magic that goes into some of our favorite desserts such as pies, puddings, cakes and cookies!
Chef Laiquan Harvey-Davis is making non-vegans eat their words one dessert at a time with her business How Delish HD, which serves up delicious vegan and gluten-free desserts.
Chef Harvey-Davis rise into dessert prominence wasn’t as clear cut as other cooks. She had a drive for engineering, graduating from NJIT. However, that career path became less attractive as she had a family and the amount of international travel would take away from her time with them.
Chef Harvey-Davis then found a successful career in construction, even starting her own construction management company. She worked on many high level projects. The mental strain and demanding hours of her work caused her to take a break from construction.
During her time away from the work field, Chef Harvey-Davis began perfecting healthier recipes to help her better adjust to her diary-free diet and healthier lifestyle. It wasn’t until she and her husband went to a local restaurant for lunch that she learned the world needed her desserts!
Her husband asked for dessert, which resulted in her learning the restaurant did not have a vegan dessert supplier. Her husband suggested the restaurant taste his wife’s desserts, and the rest is history. The same day, Chef Harvey-Davis and her husband thought of the company name How Delish HD. In June 2017, the company officially launched.
I had the opportunity to sit down with New Jersey native Chef Laiquan Harvey-Davis to discuss her business How Delish HD, her journey as an entreprenuer, and much more!
What inspired your passion?
I was actually raised vegetarian… mainly because my father was vegetarian. However, once my parents separated my mom went back to eating the foods she enjoyed before turning vegetarian. I became vegan about two years ago. My husband and I decided to clean up our diet. We enjoyed the positive effects the lifestyle change had on us and have even adopted a vegan household… as you can imagine the our children were skeptical at first. My passion for making healthy desserts started about 6 years ago when I adopted a dairy-free diet. Dairy-free desserts were difficult to find or did not taste the like the delicious desserts we are all accustomed to. The lack of delicious dairy-free desserts inspired me to modify dessert recipes. Not too long after mastering dairy-free desserts, I decided to take it a step further baking vegan and gluten-free desserts. I never had a goal to become a business I just wanted to make healthy tasty snacks for myself.
When did you realize your product could become a business?
I realized my How Delish HD desserts could become a business after taking part in the Vegan Market located in Brooklyn, NY. Vegan Market is a monthly vegan market at Market Hotel where renowned vegan businesses and vendors come to display and sell their products. This was a great opportunity to present How Delish HD to the vegan community. We sold out of our product at the event and the positive feedback we received was mind blowing. It’s great to get positive reception from random customers is great, but when I received rave reviews from lifelong members of the vegan community who have tried countless vegan products and they specifically told me that my desserts are the best they’ve ever had - I just knew How Delish HD was something special.
Describe your day as a business owner.
I wake up and immediately log into my email and social media accounts. I then review my email for any inquiries and my social media accounts to see what’s going on… social media post activity (likes, comments, and questions). I then start my day with breakfast and getting my children ready for their day. After everything is situated, I check into my book where I write down my weekly agenda and plan out my day. My book is not structured at all, it’s more of a journal however I keep it with me 24/7. I follow my plan for the day. My days usually involve grocery shopping, online ordering, and shipping orders. Once this is complete I head into my kitchen where all the magic happens. I usually try to go to bed before 11 pm, but when I’m prepping for an event or I’m stacked with orders I’m up until 3 am sometimes working. I’m also starting to incorporate meditation and exercise into my day.
What challenges have you come across that you didn’t expect?
The greatest challenge for me is trying to find adequate cooking space to prep my desserts. In the past, I used Pilotworks which was located in Newark, NJ. The space was huge. With the space and materials, Pilotworks offered me a way to produce large quantities of products, opening the door for bigger opportunities such as VeganDale NYC. However, when Pilotworks suddenly closed their business, it has been difficult to produce product at the same high quantities.
What does your food have in common with Newark?
We promote evolution. How Delish HD takes desserts that we’ve grown up to love and transforms them into healthier desserts with the same tastiness. Newark is evolving with new landscapes, cultures and businesses. Newark is progressing, however, it has never lost its roots. That’s exactly what my business is doing, we are progressing classic desserts by making them healthier without losing the tastes that brings back nostalgic memories.
What do you think of the Makerhoods mission?
When I first heard about the Makerhoods mission, I signed up immediately. I think it’s a great idea. It’s an amazing opportunity for our youth as well. The Mansion as well as the new construction is located by several Newark schools. Our youth get to see a community of entrepreneurs and successful business owners in their own neighborhood. If you can prescribe an area with success, more youth and entrepreneurs won’t be afraid to follow their dreams. Opportunities are desired in our area and Newark Makerhoods is providing some great opportunities with networking, work space, affordable housing and business development.
What would you tell your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to live fearlessly. If you can visualize a dream, go after it. Also, make sure that your definition of success is not driven by your ego. Success is not only money but your peace and happiness as well.
What is your business goals for 2019?
I have so many goals for this year. Mainly, I want to expand my products into more food restaurants and retail stores.
How does your business impact the community?
How Delish HD is giving people hope. Dessert can be both healthy and tasty. My healthy cooking is having a positive impact on my children, family, friends, and customers. Veganism promotes a healthier mind, body and environment.
Anthony Smith, Community Outreach Coordinator
After graduating college and returning back to my hometown of Newark, NJ I became a member of the Newark Makerhoods team. This transformative experience put me in touch with many local entrepreneurs who are all in different business stages, ranging from established to upstart. Newark is a thriving city for talented creators. I'm here to share their stories and launch their business to the everyday public’s eye.