A Mashup of Goodness

Local business owner provides plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free foods for the UNT community.
Written by: 
Brittney Dear
Cherie Reed
Cherie Reed

There was a new addition to Hickory Street Oct. 1 of this year: Mashup Market a plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free grocery store owned by Cherie Reed. While there is a Mashup Market location on Oak Street, the new location, which neighbors Aura Coffee, will serve as an accessible market for college students, faculty and staff at UNT, as it is walking distance from campus.

Tired of hunting down her favorite vegan products from a variety of stores, Reed decided to create a one-stop market focusing on independent suppliers and the Denton community. The Mashup Market is currently working alongside UNT's Hospitality Management program to build their team by providing jobs and exposing students to the small-business industry.

"I fell in love with the people and the town of Denton," Reed says. "UNT has such a diverse attendee demographic and clearly a large community of vegetarians and vegans. Additionally, it is exciting to see so much innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in Denton."

Although Mashup Market is stocked with some big-name plant-based products, it mostly specializes in products from independent and local companies that are not readily available in other grocery stores -- including those from UNT alumni and staff. Each of their products have unique and inspiring stories:

Good Earth Cheese
Angilee Wilkerson, owner
Director of Creative Services for UNT's Division of Brand Strategy and Communication

"Good Earth Cheese is a natural, nut- and seed-based probiotic cheese that is aged for at least 14 days for a sharp and tangy flavor. We keep the ingredients simple and clean and don't use plastic in our packaging, nor do we use starch or fillers.

The inspiration came from a love for raw fermented foods and a desire to have a food that truly satisfies those cheese cravings. I know you know what I mean! I started out making the cheese simply for myself but my creative partner thought it was so yummy she encouraged me to start selling it -- so I did, and got my start at the Denton Community Market over three years ago.

I love being at Mashup Market. It makes me happy to know that as a vegan cheese maker, I'm buying ingredients locally and selling locally, and it's my very own community that is enjoying the foods that I work hard to create and provide."

It's Jerky Y'all
Brett Christoffel, owner and CEO of All Y'alls Foods
Collaborator with Jon McCarry, Executive Director, Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

"When I learned that beef is our No. 1 import besides cotton, that made me pissed, so I asked myself, Are you going to complain about it or are you going to change it? I love a cow like I love a dog. I made seven different flavors of plant-based jerky based on the seven regions of Texas, made from whole, non-GMO soybeans, with low sodium and low sugar, bold flavors and a great chew. What's really cool about them besides being a perfect grab-and-go snack, is that they're a great protein replacement at 20 grams of protein per bag.

At the Mashup Market, an individual who is either new to plant-based foods or a long-time vegan can step into a single store and everything available to them is only made of plants. I'm proud to be included in the Mashup Market, which offers some of the best products you can find in the vegan world."

Crystal Gomez
Crystal Gomez ('10)

The Boneless Butcher
Crystal Gomez ('10), owner
Dallas, available on thebonelessbutcher.com and gtfoitsvegan.com.

"Creating our vegan meats since January 2021, the Boneless Butcher specializes in hand-crafted vegan meat products that are made locally in small batches. We pride ourselves on using simple ingredients to create complex flavors and textures. We also strive to offer products that aren't currently widely available in the market. We are motivated to offer meat alternatives that please not only vegans and vegetarians, but also omnivores who might be willing to replace animal products from time to time if the right product is available.

We are thrilled that Mashup Market chooses to carry our products. It has been a hugely successful opportunity to identify and expand our customer base. Not to mention, it is always great to collaborate with other vegan entrepreneurs! Furthermore, UNT really helped align our locally focused vision and sense of community. Denton and UNT instilled the importance of networking and collaboration, which we consider major pillars of success!"

Leila's Foods,
Shadan Price ('08, '13), owner
Denton, available at Lucky Mouth Grocery in Dallas, Java Rocket coffee, and www.farmboxdelivery.com
Major: Visual Arts Studies and Hospitality Management

Mashup Market interior

 "Mashup Market is exactly the kind of store that I wish was around when I was first becoming a vegetarian. It's nice to be able to go into a store and know that you don't have to sit there and look through ingredient lists to make sure something is safe to eat. There are also just so many great products there!

Leila's started as a food truck in Denton in 2016. We were the first award-winning vegetarian/vegan food truck here. Our falafel burger was our No. 1 seller so we knew we wanted to just focus on that as our first product in stores, but we hope to expand to other Middle Eastern vegan options in the future. It hasn't been long now since our falafel patties were first in stores, and it's still exciting every single time I see them on a shelf or hear someone talk about them! I don't think that will ever get old!

Getting my degrees at UNT were so valuable. My art degree comes in handy when I'm looking at package design and then of course the hospitality management degree helped me figure out exactly what I wanted to do and gave me some great contacts. A professor I actually still keep in touch with is chef Jodi Duryea. I really enjoyed her classes and she taught me a lot!"

Spread Happiness Nut Butters
Yesika Horton, attended from 2002-2005, owner
Denton, available at www.spreadhappinessnutbutters.com, the Denton Community Market, Susie's Snack Shop in Denton, The Jolly Good Shop in Van Alstyne
Major: Music, General Studies

Yesika Horton
Yesika Horton

"Spread Happiness Nut Butters is a woman-owned, vegan-based company that provides the Denton/Dallas/Fort Worth community with a variety of natural peanut butters and nut butters. I strive to keep minimal ingredients added to our products, which include specialty flavors, healthy one-ingredient butters, as well as peanut butter for dogs. All of our nut butters will always be vegan friendly, most will be gluten free, and we will always have keto/low-carb/sugar-free options available.   

My love for peanut butter started when I was 2-years-old. I grew up loving anything and everything peanut butter-based. Around 2015, I started making freshly ground peanut butter for my partner and myself, and in 2018, I started playing around with different types of nut butters. That is when I decided I wanted to pursue my dream and start a business making a variety of peanut butters and nut butters. I slowly started to attend farmers markets, which then turned into festivals, in-store sales and fulfilling orders online to be shipped across the U.S.

It feels great to see my product on the shelves of local businesses. I shop at Mashup Market weekly and love seeing others buying my product and supporting other local small vegan businesses. Mashup Market offers unique vegan finds that I can't find online or in other local stores. I also love that Mashup Market consists mainly of local small business items.

Some of my favorite memories during my time at UNT were performing at football games and competitions with the UNT Green Brigade marching band. I met so many friends and connections while in the marching band program and learned a lot about discipline and maintaining a dedicated work schedule. UNT football games will always hold a special part in my heart."

Nature's Plate
Marianne Lacko ('95), co-owner
Plano Location, 8404 Preston Rd. Suite 226 Plano, TX 75021
Lake Highlands Location, 10233 E. Northwest Hwy, Suite 432 Dallas, TX 75238
North Dallas Location, 11811 Preston Rd. Suite 101 Dallas, TX 75230
Major: Business Computer Information

"We make plant-based meals, snacks and cookies to go! Mashup has been so great for us, because it's a spot where we can drop off pre-ordered meals for our customers and they can pick them up. It allowed us to expand to Denton without actually renting a space. My sister and co-owner (Annette Baker,'89) and I had long, successful corporate careers prior to starting Nature's Plate, but our passion was always health and plant-based eating. We decided to create Nature's Plate and offer plant-based meals because we wanted to pursue that passion and help people eat more plants! There is no negative to eating plant-based. It's better for the planet, the people and the animals! It's just winning all the way around.

Mashup Market is super special to my sister and me because we grew up in Denton and love that it's all vegan! We lived in Denton when we originally went vegan 20-plus years ago and would have loved a place like Mashup! It's truly unique and something you would find in Portland or Austin."

Far Out Milk
Zane Motlagh, co-owner
Denton Community Market every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Major: Marketing

"To Far Out, Mashup Market symbolizes everything we're trying to be. Cherie Reed taught us about advocating for ourselves and valuing what we do and who we are, both as business owners and as women. What makes Mashup so unique is obviously the niche in the market that it fills, but Cheri's passion and dedication to her beliefs, as well as the support she gives to the community and her ability to bring people together for a common purpose.

"Far Out makes delicious, artisanal, fresh by the batch, love in every oat, oat milk. We use all natural ingredients, we vet our suppliers for alignment with our values as a company, we pay and advocate for a living wage, and we implement waste reduction and sustainability practices. We strive to be a progressive, inclusive and eco-friendly brand. We specifically chose oat milk because of the very little water it takes to grow oats, and the minimal processing needed to make the product taste great. The first time we ever made it, we made it out of our home kitchen, and posted on Instagram, telling people to bring their own jars and pay what they felt comfortable paying.

"What I'm most grateful for from UNT has been connections and relationships."

Frios Gourmet Pops
Lauren Penn
1640 W. University Drive, Denton TX 76201
Major: Advertising

"Frios Gourmet Pops are small-batch fruit pops made with fresh ingredients. We have dozens of unique flavors that are dairy-free and gluten-free. Some of the most popular are Blackberry Ginger Lemonade and Strawberry Mango. Frios started as a small, handmade business in a garage in Alabama and has expanded to become a national brand. We are proud of our products because they are made with simple ingredients and are extremely flavorful, and the Frios pop stand opened in Denton in 2019. We have many customers who are dairy-free and are thrilled to have a dessert option at our drive-thru and in shops like Mashup Market, and partnering with local businesses who wholesale our products is a wonderful way to get more connected within the community.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my education from the Mayborn School of Journalism as an advertising major. I had many opportunities to learn from experienced professors and to practice my presentation skills. I also have a background in graphic design which comes in handy as a small business owner. I use many of the foundational principles of advertising and marketing to operate my business."