Small Business Profile: Danielle Tubbs, Founder of Tubby's Taste - Chicago
Hey Danielle! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! I’m Danielle Tubbs and I’m founder and CEO of Tubby’s Taste! Tubby’s Taste is a surprisingly vegan dessert company, inspired by my Jamaican-American heritage on a mission to bring people together. I’m originally from Miami, FL and have lived in Chicago for 8 years.
I enjoy going for long walks, chatting about 90’s/00’s tv and music moments, celebrity genealogy (hello Finding Your Roots!), black coffee, trying new foods, talking to people in depth about their lives and backgrounds, planning dinner parties, hosting friends in town, Chilean red wines, and naps.
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
I have a degree in Sociology from The University of Florida. Go Gators! After graduating I moved to Chicago to do City Year, an Americorps program. After City Year I stayed in the city and worked for various education non-profits until I decided to pursue Tubby’s Taste full-time last August.
What led you to start Tubby's Taste? When did your passion for baking turn into a business?
I initially started baking as a hobby. I come from a long line of Jamaican cake ladies so it’s safe to say that baking is in my blood. For a few years, I was bringing countless baked goods to my job and parties and then a close friend who’s vegan asked me to make something that we BOTH could enjoy. Out of the mission to bring people together and be more inclusive I started experimenting and the bug bit me. I loved creating desserts that met the vegan criteria, had quality ingredients, and were simply delicious! Over time I noticed that a lot of the flavors I kept coming back to were a nod to my Jamaican-American heritage.
Most of your recipes are inspired by family memories - what goes into the development of your different cookies?
With the name Tubby’s Taste (I got the nickname Tubby, based off of my last name, in college) everything passes my taste test. Every cookie tells a story. Based on an ingredient in the cookie, I talk about the foods I had growing up that they remind me of. For instance, when you purchase the Oh. Wow. Yum! cookie, you’ll hear the story of my grandmother’s special Christmas tradition of making us Chocolate Tea, a Jamaican alternative to hot cocoa, with freshly grated cacao and cinnamon. A lot of my childhood was spent by my grandmother’s side, hearing stories of her adolescence and eating her foods.
What drew you to creating vegan cookies?
For me it’s all about bringing people together! Once I realized that a good amount of people were being left out of enjoying really good things my empathy set in. Once I found out I could make things taste REALLY REALLY delicious and still be vegan without junky ingredients It was on.
Where can people get your baked goods?
Currently we sell our cookie boxes online and at The Plant Farmers Market monthly. We’re also excited to be at Vegandale (6/22) this summer in Grant Park! Local Chicago residents can contact us for catering opportunities at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, follow us at Tubbystaste on Facebook and Instagram.
How do you connect with your customers and community?
I love connecting with customers in person at markets and pop ups.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
Just last week a middle schooler I met said that she typically can’t have a lot of sweets but she was able to have mine and that made me really happy. I love being able to bring more people together and to the table. Maybe Tubby's Taste vegan desserts are the first step toward world peace ;-).
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face?
Being a small business in it’s early stages, I do almost everything! When you’re a solo founder it can be hard to make some decisions when you don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of. I’m really grateful to be a part of a few groups that help me in the area: Future Founders and HWN.
What are some of your short/long term goals?
My short term goals are to find more ways to get Tubby’s Taste to people while still aligning with who I am and our values. I would also like to connect with more women founders, and as always do some more recipe development in order to bring customers new flavors. I’ve been sitting on a few ideas for a while.
Long term, I’d like to build a great brand, an amazing team that is taken care of (I’ve always wanted to work at a place awarded “best place to work” now, I want to be that place someday), and be bold.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
Women are the biggest champions of each other. When we recognize that there is room for all of us and that we each bring something special to the table then that’s just magic!
We have a series called Purchase from Women - what women owned businesses are you encouraging with your dollars?
Since I’m an entrepreneur in the startup stage my dollars are stretched but here are some women owned businesses I support:
Adornment and Theory
Chloe Camille Photography
What have you learned from creating your own business that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
Remember where and whom you come from. I draw incredible strength from my ancestors and it’s something that helps me to focus on the task(s) at hand. They worked so hard so the least I could do is pursue my dreams and work hard everyday towards achieving them.
Set your goals and go after them! The worst that could happen is that someone says “no” or that you fail. But there’s a ton of learning and growth from failure.
Do you have any creative, business, or female-centered resources that have been helpful to you that we should know of?
I use a lot of Canva, Unsplash, and people to help me accomplish a lot. I also listen to podcasts while I’m in the kitchen. NPR’s Up First for news, Small Doses with Amanda Seales and Yes, Girl Podcast by Essence for Entertainment. Lately I’ve been into the show Hustle on Viceland.
What are you trying to learn right now or what is something that you are wanting to learn?
Spanish. I grew up in Miami and find that I’m way better at understanding the language than speaking it. I’d love to finally be fluent someday!
What are some of your favorite places in Chicago?
Irazu, the 606, any neighborhood where I can peruse the residential architecture, Chicago Cultural Center, Inspiration Kitchens, Second City, movies in Millennium Park, riding along Lake Shore Drive in the summer time.
What's coming up for you?
Vegandale 6/22 @ Grant Park