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Life & Work with Vybz & Growlr of Eat.Puff.Love

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vybz & Growlr. Them and their team share their story with us below:

We started Eat.Puff.Love in the winter of 2021 after we had just taken a road trip from Washington, DC, to New Orleans to visit family during the winter holidays. On our return home drive, we started pondering ways and opportunities in which we could combine all of our great passions into work that wouldn’t feel like work but what we do. Growlr learned cooking while growing up in St. Louis, MO, from two chef grandmothers, one from Mississippi and the other from Arkansas. Learning how to fry tripe, season the perfect meat spaghetti accompanied by cajun-fried catfish, and the knowledge to craft a casserole from any odd ingredient prepared Growlr to explore kitchens all over the Caribbean and now Washington, DC.

This is where Growlr and Vybz met. Vybz and Growlr connected over their passion for exploring delicious food, smoking exceptional cannabis, and their love for one another and travel. Eat.Puff.Love is the result of those intersections of passions.

Vybz hails from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where his maternal grandmother taught him to grow food and prepare it with love and care. Vybz still finds moments to prepare shore dishes like late summer lima beans with bits of smoked Virginia ham, garden tomatoes, and freshly shucked sweet corn mixed with fresh rolled slick- dumplings. What he loved most and is attempting to get correctly is his grandmother’s crispy Old Bay oyster fritters. Vybz has traveled extensively, learning new and traditional cooking techniques from foodies all over Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, the wide stretch of North America, and parts of Central America and Northern Africa.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Most recently, we released the second season of Eat. Puff. Love. Like all new ventures, life does not come without obstacles and challenges. Yet, we are determined to turn our shared dream and passion projects into a steady source of income.

We are not exceptions like most first-time business owners; we both hold day jobs. We, like countless other entrepreneurs, find that to stay afloat and build our business, we find it challenging at times to find enough hours in the day to do daily life, let alone do the work associated with building a brand. We spend countless hours through the week and on the weekends doing media promotion, conducting interviews, editing content, hosting events, etc. Still, the challenges are worth it because we believe wholeheartedly in our product–Eat.Puff.Love.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Growlr is a proud product of St. Louis Public Schools. I attended Ames Elementary School, where I was educated and mentored by outstanding art educators like Beverly Whittington, Diane McCullough, Yvonne Crockett, and Janice Moorehead. Teachers such as Charlotte Brown, Alice Reese, Gloria Douglass, Dello Thedford, Ray Parks, Suzanne Bushey, and Cheron Wallace. These teachers provided safe and welcoming spaces for young artists like me from Kosciusko Street to grow. I later graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a bachelor’s degree in music education and from the University of Missouri (Mizzou) with a master’s degree in public affairs. I work full-time as an arts administrator and advocate for the arts in Washington, DC. In addition, I enjoy traveling, cooking, learning languages, playing music, and learning new dance styles.

Vybz recalls thinking about careers during his 10th-grade year of high school after speaking with one of the school’s guidance counselors. I knew I only wanted to be one of two things, a diplomat, traveling the world, speaking various languages, and solving conflicts, or a chef, who perfected and served great foods.

Eat. Puff. Love. has allowed me to tap into both of those adolescent career dreams. The real trajectory of my professional career has been much different; I completed my undergraduate in Washington, DC, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. This led me to an eight-year career in major non-profit management. In 2008, we all experienced the Big Recession, and my employer laid me off. I decided then that I would follow another passion of mine, teaching. I spent two years teaching abroad in Asia and then returned to the States. Later, I completed two Master’s degree programs in education, TESOL and Social Justice, respectively, and since 2013, I have been employed as an elementary educator. I am a naturist, a world traveler, a foodie, a photographer, a plant dad (22 and counting), and a lover of unique cocktails.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
We have both been grateful for the many listeners, our Lil’ Puffins, mentors, supporters, and teammates who have supported our journey.

However, we would most like to thank all those who have opened their homes and kitchens to us. Sitting at someone’s dinner table and enjoying community is the best sort of mentorship and friendship.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
@wingedtraveler and @mufasaverde

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