By Logan Langlois

Meet Sauda, also known as The Fair Shepard, the owner, and operator of a Nashville-based independent and black-owned vegan baking company dedicated to providing cruelty-free sweets. Her favorite baked good, which she referred to as her “little baby” in a recent zoom interview, was her highly sought-after banana pudding. A dessert on which she loves to put all kinds of different spins. Such recipes include peach cobbler, Oreo brownie, apple or pineapple upside-down cake, and now that fall season is approaching, pumpkin spice. The idea of baking vegan options while using as many wholly organic and non-GMO vegan ingredients as possible is what inspires Sauda to run The Fair Shepard. Her mission is to help spread the word that cruelty-free baked goods can be delicious.

Later in the zoom interview, Sauda went into detail about how she had been wanting to take part in a baking project like The Fair Shepard for a long time before she finally started selling her baked goods. At first, she decided to provide vegan dessert options for the customers of her sister’s Nashville Farmers Market tent, the Nashville-based vegan soul food entrepreneur Radical Rabbit. This past April, Sauda opened her own tent under The Fair Shepard and has been taking things step by step to watch her new business grow over these past six months.

Before opening her own business, Sauda had lived a mostly vegetarian lifestyle from high school until years later when her young kids fell ill. It was during this time she decided to switch her family’s diet from processed food to non-GMO vegan food, to see whether this would have a positive effect on her kids’ health. After the switch, she noticed a vast improvement in the overall health of her children, and she decided that the vegan lifestyle was right for her family.

It was from there that she decided to establish her business The Fair Shepard, the name itself being inspired by the thought of leading people to better food alternatives. She has said that she sees some hesitation from people when they read the ‘vegan’ labels on her sweets, but most of the time it’s not an issue.

“I’ve seen people at the market they’ll go ‘oh it’s vegan…well… let me…let me think about it.’ or … ‘oh well I bet, that looks good. It must be good!” Sauda said in our interview. “And I’ll, you know, let them know ‘I mean it’s vegan, but you wouldn’t be able to tell.”

Sauda says that her cakes typically take her from 2 – 2 ½ hours to bake in total, while her banana puddings can take anywhere from 6 – 8+ hours to be ready by the next day. This is because she admits she likes to take her time while baking and that many people could probably bake faster than she chooses to. The hard thing about it, she says, is since the farmers market just updated its rules for local vendors, all her goods must arrive prepackaged. What this means for vendors like Sauda is that since she uses organic and non-GMO ingredients, her naturally made food doesn’t maintain freshness for as long of a time as the typical baked goods which use processed ingredients. If she doesn’t sell all her desserts within the time span of a day or two, she has to discard what hasn’t been sold and begin the process all over again from scratch.

You can find The Fair Shepard’s food tent at Richland Park Farmers Market every Saturday morning from when the market opens its doors till noon, that is until the end of the Thanksgiving holiday. After which Sauda says in-person business will resume at the start of the following spring. You can also find The Fair Shepard online via the Hotpoppy grocery delivery app, as well as on Instagram @thefairshepard and Facebook @Thefairshepard.