Hummus changed 2013 graduate Erika Brown’s life.
Erika Brown tried hummus for the first time while waitressing at a Mediterranean restaurant during college. The versatile spread became a staple in Brown’s diet when she was a TU student looking for quick, protein-rich meals on the go. “I started making it pretty much every day,” Brown says. “It was a component of breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
After graduating with degrees in sociology and anthropology, Brown’s hobby followed her as she traveled the globe (living for a while in both Greece and Hawaii). When she returned to her native Frederick, Maryland, she began selling Hippy Chick Hummus (the name came to her in a dream) at a farmers market in May 2016. “From the very first container I sold, I knew this was my journey,” Brown recalls. “I just started crying.”
Within months, Hippy Chicks Hummus was stocked at local stores. In June 2017, Brown opened a plant-based cafe and kombucha bar in downtown Frederick. From the cozy, light-filled space decorated with eclectic pillows, plants and art that once hung in her TU apartment, the 28-year-old serves up her favorite college snacks, like a vegan pizza with chickpeas, hummus trays and smoothie bowls.
More than two years in, Brown has gone from the lone employee to head of a 17-person staff. Customers fill the 14-seat shop so regularly that she is looking to expand. “I never would have imagined I could build a whole business out of something super simple I’ve been doing since college,” Brown says. “[But] all of my experience at TU prepared me to be a business owner.”