Customers graced with the presence of God
Behind Plant Based Vegan Grocery is a story of faith. Trent and Selita Daniels opened the Southampton store last December, the culmination of their own journey into a healthier and more God-centred life.
The couple decided to become vegan because of the health and spiritual benefits three years ago and quickly realised there was a lack of available food options here.
“Since we went vegan in 2017, we were always looking for vegan items in the stores. We got tired of reading every ingredient list and we got tired of going to multiple stores to find the vegan items we wanted,” Mr Daniels said.
Still he found the change to a plant-based diet far easier than his wife, who initially “struggled with keeping it”.
“Not only was it difficult to find plant-based products but shopping in regular grocery stores presented many temptations that I would rather avoid,” she said.
Out of that came the idea that they should open their own store. “And that is exactly what we did,” Mrs Daniels added.
They secured a location in August 2018, but ran into several challenges in the preparation and launch phases. Ultimately, their faith brought the vision to life.
“Turning an idea into an actuality was a test of faith in itself,” Mrs Daniels said.
“We didn't have the funds to start the business and all the work that was required to make this dream a reality was overwhelming. It is only by the grace of God that Plant Based is open today.
“There was never a moment where we wanted to give up, although there were many obstacles and setbacks that held up our opening way longer than expected. But we pushed through and kept the faith. We knew that we would get it done if we persevered and never gave up.”
While their vegan journey started together, their spiritual journey was quite different.
“I was born and raised as a Seventh-day Adventist. However, my parents always gave me the choice to follow the SDA practices or attend church,” Mrs Daniels said.
“I don't have a specific story of how I came to know and trust God, but there have most definitely been times where my faith has been tested and I had to rely on God to make it through.”
Her husband grew up in the Anglican Church, but also attended the Salvation Army.
“Going to church wasn't a new thing for me, but when I met Selita I was introduced to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It has been a long road from where I came from to now and I am still working on myself.”
In 2015 they married, started a family and began a journey to strengthen their relationship with Christ and to share His love with their children.
They were baptised together, on January 25.
“This was a very special day and something I had long anticipated,” Mrs Daniels said.
“I wanted to be baptised since I was a little girl but I always wanted the timing to be right and to ensure I was fully committed. It was even more amazing to make that commitment alongside Trent.”
They agreed to incorporate their Adventist beliefs and practices into their business model.
“Having our own business fits perfectly into our beliefs because just by our opening hours you can see that we observe the Sabbath,” Mr Daniels said.
“That is just one way we can witness to customers. The Adventist community is a very health-conscious community with a unique health message based entirely on biblical instruction. We want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access plant-based food and start a health journey of their own.”
Their faith, which proved essential as entrepreneurs, also came into play when the coronavirus pandemic reached Bermuda.
“During the pandemic we were really tested, from all of the new regulations and restrictions, empty shelves from people buying in bulk, distributors opting not to sell to us to focus on bigger stores, to just an uncertainty of what was to happen after it was over.
“Sales were up and we were happy with the support we were getting from our customers. After the lockdown, sales went in the opposite direction and they slowed down. This is definitely a test of faith. We continue to lean on God to get us through these challenging times.”
Their advice to other people of faith who are entrepreneurs or considering starting their own business is simple.
“If it is what God wants you to do, it will happen. But you have to put in the work, a lot of work, probably twice as much as you originally thought. In the end it will be worth it, take the risk and jump. Put your trust in God and the rest will fall into place if you just believe and go for it.”
Plant Based sells vegan and non-toxic goods. Aside from meeting this practical need, the Daniels hope that customers will see and experience the love of God when they shop with them.
“Plant Based is a family owned and operated business and to us our customers are not just numbers, they're like family too. We want to treat everyone with love and respect so they want to come to us for more than just the products we sell.
“We want customers to feel God's presence in our business, to feel welcomed and appreciated. We hope that when customers leave our shop, they feel blessed.”
• Plant Based Vegan Grocery is located at 108 Middle Road, Southampton. Opening hours: Sundays to Thursdays, 11am-8pm; Fridays, 11am to 6pm