When Erica Stephens’ daughter Jhordan began dealing with suicidal tendencies and mental health issues, she did what any good mother would do and prayed. For two years, her daughter began to exhibit erratic behaviors and resisted help or assistance. The Stephens went through hospital after hospital, only for them to say that their daughter was fine when she clearly was not. After years of praying, a friend of Stephens responded to a status she wrote on Facebook, simply stating to ‘get her off dairy.’ “She was eighteen years old then,” Stephens told blkpreneurship.com. “It was a blessing in disguise,” she continued. “I noticed when we went through that moment, that there had to be other families that were going through this as well, and they didn’t feel like there was any other option but to go to the doctor, so that’s when we created the company.” Their company, Bereisheet 129, (‘Bereisheet’ meaning ‘Genesis’ and ‘129’ referring to chapter 1 verse 9 of the same book) is a Phoenix-based all-vegan catering and cuisine food service. It became the solution to a family issue that had been enduring for years. So now, not only was their daughter healthy, but the Stephens had an opportunity to cater and serve others, as well as make a profit from her experience.
Their revelation started with something called the alkaline diet. After a few weeks, their daughter began to change for the better. “She started to smile like she used to have back pain and it was like a light came back into her. It was a blessing in disguise,” she began. “I noticed these changes when we went through that so there had to be other families that are going through this as well where they don’t feel like there’s any other option but to go to the doctor. So that’s when we created the company.”
The Stephens originally ate a vegan-based diet for support, but after reaping the health benefits that came with their decision to get rid of meat, Erica decided to go on the journey on her own, since health issues were coming up on her as well. “At the time, I was on 14 different prescriptions,” Stephens told blkpreneurship.com. “I was suffering seizures, migraines, and nerve damage. I had to get surgery on my back, and I had two young kids at home.” Erica decided to focus on embracing a vegan diet and from then on, she made the decision to involve her business with her kids, as they would be learning how to be managers as well as gain professional experience. She developed a lot of patience and endurance while waiting for her oldest daughter’s situation to change, and to keep her focused, she turned her focus toward making food that tasted closer to meat and while not compromising on the nutrients and ingredients.
Her husband soon joined in with the vegan lifestyle, and has never went back to meat since. “He goes to the doctor every year, and they’re just amazed,” Stephens shared. “He’s a truck driver, so he’s now moving up and down the ramp and beating the younger guys. He’s gone from being pre-diabetic to, three months later, showing no signs of the disease.” Since Erica believes in leaving the integrity of the food intact, she spends a lot of time looking at shows to gain inspiration. “We watch a lot of food shows, and I say, ‘I can make that vegan'”, she shared. “We pretty much have gotten to the point where we can create something from a meat recipe, and we can veganize it as close as possible. So you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. We’ve been at several events where there were meat eaters. And they told us, ‘if you wouldn’t have told me it was vegan, I would have thought it was meat.’ So we just spent a lot of time learning to manipulate vegetables without losing the integrity of the nutrients you get from the vegetable.” A main priority of Bereisheet 129 is to keep the vegetable’s nutrients intact, because this is the purpose of the company. To Stephens, if the veggies are served overcooked and there’s no nutrients in them, then there’s no reason to continue with her company or its purpose, because the main ingredient for their dishes is vegetables.
Because their children are all adults, Stephens doesn’t worry about managing a household and taking care of other people. “We actually are just preparing for our younger daughter, Chef Miryam to finish school so she can take over the company,” she explained. Their daughter, currently in culinary school, is preparing to pick up where her parents are leaving off which is a big task. “We already let her know that we’d like her to do this, and this was our plan from the beginning,” Stephens shared.
One quote that Stephens enjoys living by is “aspire to inspire.” Stephens believes that although someone may be going through a physical or mental problem, it’s never too late to inspire someone. “So I just make sure that I live this life to the fullest but also maintaining my integrity of being who I am,” she explained. One thing Stephens wants people to know about her company is that they make all of their food from scratch. “We like to take the extra time. I want to be able to go to sleep knowing that I gave you exactly what you paid for. You’re getting the purest form, you’re getting my heart and my time and my love.” Right now, the Stephens are working on building their own food truck, as well as doing pop ups around the Arizonian area.
Follow Bereisheet 129 on Instagram here.
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