A “happy accident” led Aaron Bullock’s plant-based, dairy-alternative company Misha’s to the shelves of over 800 retail stores.
At the age of 17, the Detroit native says he was heavily involved in the music industry as an executive before pivoting into film and television and working for companies like Paramount Pictures as a producer.
Bullock would eventually retire from the entertainment space in 2008, and he decided to water his interest in health and medicine, an area of focus that has remained intuitive.
“I’ve always been interested in health. I’m a certified naturopath. So, I have a focus, I have a natural bent toward overall health and natural health and from our perspective, the naturopathic perspective, food is the first medicine,” Bullock told AFROTECH.
He launched Evolution Holistic Healthcare within that same year, a chiropractic clinic combining eastern and alternative practices with western medicine that offered a concierge service in people’s homes and offices.
However, the venture would come to a standstill in 2015 after operating for seven years.
“I shut the company down. It was a very interesting moment where healthcare was deeply embattled,” Bullock said.
He describes feeling “extraordinary” stress at that time, even considering moving out of the country. It was during this season of discomfort that he would fall into what he calls a “happy accident” when vegan Chef Ian Martin approached him with the idea of making healthy food for retail.
“We had long conversations about it, most of which ended with me telling him I wouldn’t do it. Then finally I was convinced. I really had to meditate about if I was going to do something else that I wanted to make sure that it was deeply helpful for our community as African Americans and then for our community as humans. I wanted to be able to offer value both monetarily and in the health and food space,” Bullock explained.
In 2015, Bullock founded Misha’s in partnership with Martin.
The cradle of the inception was a kitchen in a garage apartment and Bullock says the early days were spent serving people in farmer’s markets and grocery stores.
By 2018, the company was in operation, competing in a $4.8 billion industry, data shows.
Chief Operating Officer Jasmine Dickens and Chief Financial Officer Michael Okada would also be added to the team.
Today, Misha’s is thriving, boasting plant-based cheese products that include six spreadable cheeses — sari, joi, seven point five, black truffle, smoked cheddar, french connection, and ricotta.
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Misha’s efforts over the years have been recognized by celebrity investors that include NBA player Chris Paul and rap artist Jay-Z. As AFROTECH previously reported, the company announced that the two participated in a $3 million seed round in 2021.
“It is very important to find people who believe in what you do. I’ll start with that,” Bullock said. “That is a very, very important thing as an entrepreneur to have someone reassure you, what you are doing is the right thing.”
He continued, “And the business, especially the food business is expensive. So, having people who believe in you and then show up with their dollars to support you is incredibly important and great. Having celebrity investors sometimes brings a great deal of extra support because people will talk about your brand just because those people are associated with it. That in a lot of ways can sometimes be priceless.”
Consumers can find Misha’s shelved in 818 Walmart stores across 13 states, as of this writing.
What’s more, the company’s reach is expected to increase in the near future as they have been chosen to participate in Whole Foods Markets’ Early Growth cohort. According to a news release, ten food and beverage companies will be considered to receive a $25,000 equity investment through Austin Community Foundation’s management fund and a chance to be shelved in Whole Foods Markets after completing a 12-week curriculum.
In the near future, Bullock believes Misha’s is on track to reach Whole Foods, Erewhon, and Ralphs.
“We’re spreading. We’re growing,” he says.
As for what else is ahead, Bullock says Misha’s plans to launch new products that range from butter to milk and even dessert.
“I don’t want to talk too much, but it’s super exciting,” he mentioned.