MIKE WOLIANSKY, 39 SADRAH SCHADEL, 37 NO EVIL FOODS, WEAVERVILLE
Mike Woliansky and Sadrah Schadel started No Evil Foods based on their passions for healthy eating, environmental sustainability and animal welfare. What began as a simple plan of selling plant-based protein alternatives at local farmers markets quickly transformed into a phenomenon, with their products sold in more than 3,000 stores across the nation and thriving in a multibillion-dollar plant-protein industry.
"We started No Evil Foods very innocently," Woliansky says. The duo formed their alternative meat company in Weaverville, roughly 10 miles north of Asheville, in 2014, after moving to the area from upstate New York.
The two weren't happy with the organic options available at different supermarkets, which sparked the idea to do it themselves. While Schadel was raised a vegetarian and worked in restaurant management for top dining locations in Philadelphia and New York, their culinary experience as chefs was limited. Previously, the two were heavily involved in the punk-rock scene; Woliansky played in a number of different rock bands. The music and rockstar attitude was a major inspiration and influence on the company, and it's still apparent in the brand today.
The husband-wife pairing started out at local farmers markets, selling organic, plant-based dishes aimed at providing the same taste and experience as the meats they emulate. The couple was surprised at the strong demand from a diverse range of customers, laying the seeds for No Evil Foods.
Woliansky and Schadel expanded their business at Blue Ridge Food Ventures, an Asheville-based business incubator, sharing roughly 1,000 square feet of kitchen space with other culinary startups. Consumer response was robust: No Evil Foods' revenue has more than doubled annually since 2014, including a 250% gain last year.
The number of stores carrying company products has grown from fewer than 200 in January to about 3,000 now, including Walmart Inc., Whole Foods Market Inc. and Ingles Markets Inc. Woliansky expects that number to double by the end of the year. A big part of that is due to No Evil Foods' May announcement that its products will be available at 1,000 Kroger Co. locations across the U.S.
The company now has about 40 employees, doubling its number of production and administrative positions since last December. It recently purchased a 16,000-square-foot building with 4,000 square feet of production space in...