“It’s so much more than the food. It’s about the love,” says Alexis Allen, founder of Herban Frequency. Blending her background in the music business with her love of creating delicious vegan food, she is growing a business featuring unique flavors. Herban Frequency is Nav’s $10,000 Small Business Grant winner for the fourth quarter of 2021.
“As a true music head and professional audio engineer for the last decade I utilize my extensive background in mixing records and approach cooking just like a music mix; attention to detail, flavor balance of highs and lows, leveled spices, passion and loving energy all cultivating a high frequency electrically composed “Opus” of a dish,” she explains. “I love music and every menu item has an audio commercial we affectionately call a #Soundbite.”
Allen has been a vegan for nearly ten years. She lost 145 pounds and regained her health after giving up animal products. She lost her mother to heart disease a few years ago, and is convinced this way of eating has saved her own life.
But the route to becoming an award-winning chef was not a direct one. Herban Frequency originally was the name of the podcast she created and hosted for several years while working as a music engineer.
Allen returned to Houston Texas after she left the music industry so she could be closer to family support. She took a job working at an Amazon warehouse where a coworker was intrigued by the delicious smell of her lunch; a vegan creation made of jackfruit and one of her original seasoning blends. After tasting it, she asked if she could pay Allen to make lunch for her once a week. Soon other coworkers were clamoring for her meals.
Eventually she purchased a food truck and opened it two weeks before the pandemic shut down restaurant businesses all over the country. With help from the community, she managed to stay afloat during those turbulent months. But then came the Texas freeze in February 2021. The truck, which was leased, was irreparably damaged in the storm and Allen was forced to give it up, forfeiting everything she had put into it.
More setbacks followed, and despite the rave reviews her food received (including recognition from the Food Network), she found her business barely hanging on. She describes access to capital as her number one challenge.
Allen’s passion and persistence were apparent when she applied for the Nav Small Business Grant. She described how she would use the $10,000 toward a down payment on a commercial restaurant building lease in a building she’s found, and to fund a new flat top grill.
There are many elements that make Herban Frequency unique; among them the seasoning blends and sauces she makes herself. They are so popular she’s fielded inquiries from multiple retail chains interested in carrying them, but she needed money to get into a co packing space before pursuing those opportunities. The commercial kitchen will be her next step in getting there.
Rebuilding Her Business
Allen found Nav while trying to build credit with the goal of eventually getting the financing she needs to grow her business. “I knew nothing about business credit,” she says. She signed up for Nav and began closely monitoring her personal and business credit. With her Nav Business Boost account and the tools and resources she received, she has boosted her business credit more than 125 points. “I check my Nav account two or three times a week,” she laughs.
She almost didn’t apply for the Nav grant, though. “I was so down,” she says. Like many entrepreneurs, she had bootstrapped her business and with savings exhausted she wasn’t sure how her business would survive. Her fans rallied behind her when they heard she applied for the grant, giving her the encouragement she needed to keep going.
Upon learning she was the winner of the Nav $10,00 Small Business Grant, she shared how life changing it will be. “I have so much vision for my business. I will be your biggest success story,” she promised. We can’t wait to see where she takes it.
This article was originally written on December 14, 2021.