Beyond the Biz | Profile
hen Tonya Deveau chose to become a vegan more than 20 years ago, she had no idea she was also choosing her future career. Deveau, a lifelong resident of Virginia Beach, stopped eating meat in high school, and over time she eventually cut dairy products from her diet. Now, as a vegan, she doesn’t consume or use any animal products in her daily life. Although her diet changed, Deveau’s sweet tooth remained as strong as ever, so she sought ways to recreate her favorite sugary treats, minus the butter and eggs. When her children, daughter Madison and son Darin, saw how much their friends and family enjoyed what Deveau baked, they encouraged her to start a business. Deveau decided to give it a shot, and in 2012 she and her husband, Rob, established My Vegan Sweet Tooth. She made all of the pastries in her home and sold them online, but within a few years, demand exceeded the kitchen space, and in May of 2015 the couple opened a brick-and-mortar location near Loehmann’s Plaza in Virginia Beach. “It was a struggle to jump through hoops and deal with red tape so we could purchase the space and get everything set up,” Deveau says. “But this location ended up working out perfectly for us.” Outside the bakery’s large front window, a steady stream of traffic flows by on Virginia Beach Boulevard. Step inside, and the shop is open and welcoming, with tables arranged along the wall. There is also a cozy nook near the door where customers can sit and enjoy a treat and a cup of coffee with a friend. The bakery case is filled with a variety of goodies to choose from, including muffins, cookies and the shop’s signature cinnamon rolls. All of the products are made from scratch and are 100 percent vegan, meaning no animal products are used in the recipes. There are also numerous glutenfree selections. “For those with food allergies and sensitivities, being able to eat even a doughnut can be a very big deal,” Deveau explains. Deveau spends her days elbow-deep in cinnamon roll dough, baking hundreds of the frosted delights every week. The recipe she uses is a vegan version of the one her mom used, and it is a closely-guarded family secret. Only Deveau and her son Darin know the magic formula. It takes three hours to create a batch of cinnamon rolls from scratch, and Deveau doesn’t cut corners. “You can’t rush delicious,” she states.
Deveau’s two children are the greatest successes in her life, and she loves having them as part of the business. Darin, a budding baker, works two days a week in the shop. He has created several menu items, including a bite-sized version of the popular cinnamon rolls. Deveau’s daughter, Madison, also contributes her ideas and enthusiasm to the family business. In addition to her children and husband, the staff at My Vegan Sweet Tooth includes Deveau’s younger sister, Renee. While her family may be her strongest supporters, they are not her only fans. In April of 2016, the cinnamon rolls from My Vegan Sweet Tooth took first place in a contest held by The Virginian-Pilot. Running a small business takes lots of work and long hours, but Deveau also finds
immense pleasure in being an entrepreneur. She sources a lot of the products she uses in her bakery—from the coffee and tea that fill customers’ cups, right down to the zinnias that decorate the tabletops—from other local businesses. In keeping with her animal-friendly lifestyle, Deveau also donates a portion of her proceeds to two animal rescue programs. Customers often ask Deveau when she will open another location, and her son is eager for her to expand the bakery into a vegan diner, but Deveau is happy with her business as it is. “All of those things are possibilities,” she says. “But right now, I love what I do, and I want to concentrate all of my energy on this shop.” Learn more at MyVeganSweetTooth.com.
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