We had the good fortune of connecting with Kayla Ferguson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kayla, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My business really started out of a passion project. I got back to Denver after a year-long, 26 country trip around the world that I embarked on after I decided I didn’t want to work in Hollywood anymore. In 2018, after about two years of being back in Denver (where I grew up), I was bored of going to the same restaurants and breweries every weekend. One night while eating at Yak & Yeti, a local Indian restaurant, I got the idea to do monthly cultural food outings to try to appease the incessant travel bug that wouldn’t leave me alone. My first dinner was at an Ethiopian restaurant and I posted on Facebook for anyone who wanted to to join us and I think nine people came. It was so much fun! By the third month 30+ people were showing up to these dinners and I realized there was an opportunity to start a business that offered people the opportunity to “travel locally” and connect with others over food.
What should our readers know about your business?
“At The Same Plate we believe that food is the unifying force between all humans. So we create a space to connect, break bread and get to know one another over The Same Plate.” I’m really proud of how The Same Plate came to be… it was genuinely born from a passion and an interest greater than myself or any monetary potential. I believe so strongly in the healing power of food and the potential is has to connect us to each other and the world, and through The Same Plate I get to live that every day. I’m also proud of the commitment to the community that gets to be expressed through The Same Plate. While there is one “arm” of the business focused on events and bringing in revenue, a whole other component gets to work with food access groups, regenerative agriculture groups, and community advocacy initiatives. I’m a firm believer that business and positive community impact do not have to be separate from another, and I think that is a fairly unique approach that fortunately is becoming more and more popular in the startup world. And there certainly have been challenges, especially this year in 2020! Covid definitely impacted the ability to host events and bring people together in person, but while it’s been difficult it’s also been a great opportunity to engage more with the social justice causes that we care so deeply about, and think about ways the business can grow with the new dynamics of our world. What can we offer that is so sorely needed during these times of self-isolation and limited ability to travel that’s really taking a toll on people?
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There are certainly too many to name for a week long itinerary, but I’ll name a couple of favorites: Food/drink: Comal Heritage Food Incubator – It’s in the hip RiNo neighborhood and has some of the best Mexican, Syrian and Ethiopian food in the city. And, Comal is a business incubator for women chefs in underserved Denver neighborhoods. New Saigon – this place offers really great, authentic Vietnamese recipes. I think there is also a Vietnamese bakery next door that is worth checking out. Entertainment: Denver has a ton of entertainment, so I always suggest for people to find the underground comedy and music shows that pop up around the city. 5280comedy.com has a pretty good list. Denver also has a ton of history that oftentimes gets lost in the midst of the trendy neighborhoods and restaurants. Taking a historical tour of Denver will teach you some amazing things about the city, and point out some bars and restaurants that are really cool, but not as highly trafficked as some of the other places. Outdoors: Lone Eagle Peak – This is one of the most stunning formations in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and is far enough outside of Denver that it’s not as crowded as many other places. You have to be willing to hike for awhile to get there, but it’s definitely worth it.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I think I could make a pretty long list…but I’m going to go with my partner, Stuart, who was there when the idea came to life and has been to every single event since this whole thing started. He’s absolutely been my biggest supporter. Thank you, Stuart!