People of ProsperUS: Lea Addington
By: Mackenzie Hewitt
Born and raised in metro-Detroit, Lea Addington began her business, LIT Vegan Kitchen, in 2017. Addington had been vegan for several months when one of her family members reached out to her seeking help transitioning their diet due to medical reasons. After Addington began to notice the positive changes as a result of her vegan diet, she decided to share this with her community.
“I started to realize how my community was struggling in terms of information connected to health and lifestyle. A lot of diseases, physical and mental, are connected to food.”
Addington explained that her business developed in several phases. She started with meal prep for family and friends and found other clients through word of mouth. Then Addington began doing pop-ups to cater to people who wanted to try her meals but could not afford the meal prep. Next, she transitioned into catering and offering classes, where she sees the emphasis of her business expanding. Addington identified her main challenge in starting a business as a lack of information. She did not know what she needed to get started, what the process required, or who she could ask for help.
“I started so on the fly I just had a lack of information—not knowing where to go, whom I could reach out, whom I could partner with, who was doing plant-based food in Detroit. But at the same time that was on me, I had to step out. I had to step out of my little bubble doing what I wanted to do; I had to go out and meet people.”
Upon engaging with FoodLab, Addington explained that she felt pushed to join the fellowship, and she appreciated feeling hand-picked in this way.
“[Devita Davison and Ederique Goudia] were aware of where I was at, whom I needed to be around and what information I needed.”
A sense of community was difficult to come by for Addington when she first started, and she felt lost. For her, joining the organization FoodLab was a pivotal moment as it introduced her to other food entrepreneurs, and she gained a perspective on where her business could go.
“When I did the Fruits of Our Labor Dinner [a farm-to-table dinner hosted by FoodLab], it was a pivotal moment for my business…Before that, I was considering quitting the business. Having that community saved me and my business to the point where I was able to see an alternative ending. I cannot even really measure the importance of community support.”
Similar to finding a community, Addington explained that she wanted a mentor, but mentorship is not just something you can find. She described that a mentor is someone that has to find you, and she is grateful to have Ederique Goudia because she is supportive, encouraging, and connects her with others.
Addington was able to complete all of the goals she set for herself at the outset of the ProsperUS Detroit and FoodLab Detroit collaborative Tapestry Fellowship program, including setting up a system of accounting with a technical service provider provided by the fellowship. She looks forward to building her business’s digital platform, purchasing equipment, and marketing her website with lending circle funds.
Addington is soon moving out of state, but she aims to maintain and grow her online business presence by offering digital products such as E-books, subscription-based classes, and a virtual space place for clients to learn and share.
“I had thought about moving for quite some time to somewhere warm, and COVID-19 showed the fragility of everything, so I didn’t want to keep waiting. I have always wanted to do digital products and classes online, and I was nervous putting myself out there, but I have to give myself that push.
The main challenge for me is making myself uncomfortable because with discomfort comes growth. Because I was born and raised here, it is very familiar. I’m a particular person when I’m here in Detroit, but I’m ready to grow and get away from her and evolve into this next version of me.”
- Instagram: @litvegankitchen
- Facebook: LIT Vegan Kitchen