of your TV streaming experience New Directions Three readers on their start-ups that help better the environment and your health
From veganism to plastic-free living, three readers tell Savanna Douglas how their start-ups promote bettering your health and the environment
‘Great-tasting vegan meals were my light-bulb moment’
LEIGH KLAPTHOR, 30, lives with her husband Shaun, 32, and their fivemonth-old, Leo, in Edenvale. Leigh’s Sprout Café is a popular vegan eatery.
In 2016, I left my career in marketing to take on a job at Shaun’s logistics company. Returning from a rather unhealthy honeymoon in March 2017, I told my personal trainer I was looking for ways to detox, so he suggested a six-week clean-eating vegan challenge, which I took on. Only problem? Edenvale’s shortage of vegan eateries. Veganism was new to me, but I took to whipping up dishes at home like a duck to water. I was surprised by how tasty and affordable the food was and kept up the lifestyle after the challenge ended, wondering if I had stumbled upon my true calling – creating vegan cuisine! On a grocery round at my local Stoneridge Centre, a vacancy sign for a shop that gets a lot of foot traffic caught my eye. I felt it would be the perfect spot to launch a vegan eatery, so I called Shaun, who agreed wholeheartedly with my idea. Soon after, we were renting this wonderful space. I left Shaun’s company and got started on setting up Sprout.
I hired a chef and, together, we researched exciting meat- free options for a vegan menu of salads, smoothies and heartier dishes like our tofu sprockets and falafel wraps. To cater for our customers’ non-vegan families and friends, we added a few meat-based options, like healthy chicken wraps. We then found local suppliers who’d deliver fresh produce daily and bakers who’d provide specialised items, like banting buns. I briefed my cousin Roxanne, an architect, on my vision for Sprout. I wanted a crisp, clean design, with a calm, contemporary vibe that would be welcoming. We were also firm about needing enough space to prep and cook vegan and non-vegan meals in separate areas to stay true to our vegan promise. It took 70 days to renovate and furnish for the launch, which I had advertised on social media. On opening day, we were surprised by the big influx of customers!
In the beginning, it was just me, my husband, our friend Christal and our chef Keketso handling everything from food prep to serving. We realised customers loved the meals, but were waiting too long for orders, so we increased our staff to 10.
The owner of Moove Motion Fitness Club, a gym and wellness centre in Sunninghill, ate at Sprout and liked the food so much that she asked if we’d open a branch at their premises. We’re so excited about this second space, now in development. We also partnered up with supplement brand NPL, launching a range of healthy smoothies using their products this April.
Orders have more than doubled since our inception, and I believe that we’ve converted a few locals over to veganism, which is a great affirmation for me. While I’m no longer a vegan myself, I respect the lifestyle and still love the food. I’m glad I got to show eating healthily doesn’t have to mean tasteless meals that cost a fortune. >>