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Watching the 2017 documentary What The Health changed my mindset around food. I realized the impact that animal agriculture has on the environment and our health and made the decision to adopt a plant-based diet. I then started researching and experimenting with plant-based foods, and my wife Cara, who has been a baker since her Easy Bake Oven days, started veganizing her original recipes.

Once Cara had her grandmother’s seal of approval for a few recipes, we started sharing them with family, friends and our church. No one could believe they were vegan. We realized there was a need for delicious vegan baked goods, and the idea for Southern Roots Vegan Bakery was born.

Our church business ministry directed us to Launch SA, an entrepreneurship and small business center where we enrolled in a business accelerator program. Break, Fast & Launch provided us with the resources and guidance to make our business idea a reality, and we now sell our baked goods locally and ship nationwide.

Through the course, we started doing local farmers markets and some out-of-town events where we met actress and social media Influencer Tabitha Brown, who helped us gain our first viral exposure. She asked us to send her products so she could promote us on her “Very Good Mondays” YouTube show. Then one night we were sitting at home and our phones started going crazy. It was all the orders coming through! We will always be so thankful to her for using her platform to promote small, Black-owned businesses.

Marcus Pitts, co-owner of Southern Roots Vegan Bakery, prepares a batch of shamrock themed vegan cookies.
Self-taught baker Marcus Pitts measures the ingredients for a batch of cookies. Credit: Brenda Bazán / San Antonio Report

As a Texas Tech alumnus with a degree in architecture and a corporate health care background, my journey to owning a bakery was not a conventional one. Since starting Southern Roots Vegan Bakery, I have been largely self-taught and have taken numerous online baking courses to help scale the company and produce baked goods at a mass scale. It has been a challenging but rewarding experience to learn and grow as a baker while also managing a successful business.

My typical workday involves overseeing daily operations, managing shipments, and connecting with customers and retail and wholesale partners. It can be a hectic and fast-paced environment, but I enjoy the challenge and the opportunity to make a positive impact through our products and services.

We work with local businesses for sourcing ingredients, third-party delivery apps for distribution, and other vegan and sustainable businesses for collaborations and partnerships. We also work closely with our customers to understand their needs and preferences to continuously improve our products and services.

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the impact that our business has on the community, both in terms of providing delicious and healthy vegan options and championing diversity and inclusion. The most challenging part is managing the day-to-day operations of a business while also navigating the ever-changing landscape of the food industry.

Marcus Pitts, co-owner of Southern Roots Vegan Bakery, prepares a batch of shamrock themed vegan cookies.
Marcus Pitts hopes Southern Roots Vegan Bakery continues to grow and reach more people nationwide. Credit: Brenda Bazán / San Antonio Report

One specific project that I am especially proud of is our collaboration with a local organization to provide desserts for frontline health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a challenging and humbling experience, but it allowed us to give back to our community and support those who were working tirelessly to keep us safe.

And, of course, Cara and I are proud of the products themselves. We’ve been able to incorporate our southern spin in a way where people don’t feel like they have to sacrifice taste for a healthy alternative. Proving that something can taste good and be healthy, especially a dessert, can be quite an accomplishment in itself.

In the future, I hope our products will be in hotels and restaurants nationwide, as well as in senior care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living. We also hope to take Southern Roots Vegan bakery and expand into other areas.

We just purchased a vegan ice cream business, Cielo Scoops, and are working on getting our delicious desserts into grocery stores and restaurants across the country. My wife and I have also started a college ambassador program that we are very excited about. We believe that there is a growing demand for high-quality vegan baked goods and are committed to expanding our reach and continuing to provide delicious, innovative products to our customers.

Southern Roots Vegan Bakery is located inside El Folklor Bakery at 6208 S. Flores St.

Marcus Pitts

Marcus Pitts is co-owner of Southern Roots Vegan Bakery.