In this vegan chat, we speak with a passionate vegan entrepreneur who has pivoted her brand, got her MBA & created a delicious range of vegan cheeses all within her business journey.
Melissa is the founder of AVS Organic Foods and if you have tried her delicious vegan cheeses you will know we arent lying when we say, they are a taste sensation!
We wanted to find out a little more about the brand, those behind it, and where it’s going into the future.
Enjoy the chat with Melissa.
Firstly Melissa, tell us a bit about AVS and what products are in your range?
AVS Organic Foods was initially A Vegan Smiles 7 years ago and started as a business to create products for cafes but morphed into a vegan cheese making business. Currently, there are nine varieties of cheese one cream and several frozen meal options.
Who’s in your team?
The AVS team has several people in it including myself, Amelia and Lauren that help manufacture, Holly who handles most of the social media as well as Tegan who does tasting at stores on occasion.
What inspired the business idea?
Simple, a lack of good Australian options at the time.
It was when I decided to go do my MBA that I thought it would be a good time to attempt this; long story short, I quit my job hired a commercial kitchen and started going door to door to try sell my products at cafes.
Who inspires you? Do you have any vegans you follow or look up to in business and life?
I am very lucky to be around a lot of inspiring vegan entrepreneurs, Melbourne and Sydney have an astounding amount of vegan businesses and am privileged to be able to collaborate with so many of them.
I simply cannot name all those who inspire me and in turn who lift me up and make me feel like I can do anything.
How do you respond to people who say vegan cheese is gross?
Are people ever skeptical to try the product? If so how do you combat these fears?
I ran stalls in markets every Saturday and Sunday plus midweek as well as sampling in stores for 5 years and in most cases you can simply offer to let people have a sample; free samples are a very powerful tool and in most cases, people end up laughing at themselves for feeling scared.
Where can customers buy your products? Can they be bought Australia wide?
I have distributors for Victoria, NSW, Western Australia and Tasmania. The online list of stockist is at www.avsorganicfoods.com.au/wherecanibuy and in some cases, I can ship to other areas of the country.
Its super important for people to know to that the best way to support small businesses is by firstly if possible buying the products and then the next best options are; recommending them to their friends IRL or online, making comments on or sharing their posts and most significantly asking their favourite stores to stock the products.
What is the most popular product in your range?
The Kindacheese Muenster is the most popular, its creamy, super melty and versatile as well as having a smokey sister version now.
What are you excited about for the brand in 2020? Any new products in the works?
LOL 2020 has been a roller coaster so far!!! However, adaption is key and I am always playing around with new ideas and running R&D for future lines; currently, I am working on some exciting options for the cupboards – stay tuned by following us on social media.
Can’t wait to see the new products! Finally, who should we interview next?
Justin at Veganstyle is an amazing person, he and Gavin have been running a vegan business for so many years and are truly wonderful and insightful people.
In addition, Theresa who makes Larrykin dog treats is a smart and generous person who is one of the first vegan dog treat companies that I am aware of in Australia.
Melissa, thank you so much for sharing your story with us! We are very excited to see the range expand, and we look forward to getting our hands on the new cheeses!
If you would like to see where you can purchase the products be sure to check AVS’s site HERE.
To read more vegan chats with other incredible vegans just like Melissa of AVS Organic Foods then visit our page HERE.