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• Aug 22, 2023

August is National Black Business Month, devoted to supporting and celebrating Black-owned businesses across the country. In honor of National Black Business Month, and as part of TD's ongoing commitment to support the Black business community, please enjoy these stories and insights.

When 15-year-old Brennah Lambert opened her first bank account at TD in 2012, she did it because her mother and grandmother were customers, and there was a location close to home.

She certainly could not have imagined the journey she would take in the next decade that included obtaining a TD small business loan to expand her rapidly-growing restaurant enterprise, LesbiVeggies, a plant-based, gluten-free restaurant and catering business located in Audubon, N.J.

Brennah and her restaurant with 13 employees demonstrate how an unexpected turn of events can lead to amazing success.

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The Turning Point

In fact, this Gen Z business owner couldn’t even imagine becoming a chef at the time, since she didn’t particularly enjoy cooking. But that changed when she went away to college and began suffering health issues.

While studying for a degree in business management at Rutgers School of Business–Camden and living an active lifestyle as a shooting guard on the Rutgers basketball team, her body needed better and more solid nutrition than she was giving it.

“At first, I didn’t know what to do,” Brennah says. “But then I did some research, and it became clear to me that eating better was the key to feeling better. That was my turning point.”

Eating healthier did help and set Brennah on a life path that would help others, too. While finishing her studies at Rutgers, she began prepping healthy, vegan meals not just for herself but also for her health-conscious aunt, who spread the word to friends at a community gym.

Before long, Brennah was prepping and delivering healthy meals for a growing clientele. She loved the work but started longing to open a restaurant where she could serve the wider community.

“As I see it, the dining experience has two components,” she says. “The food itself plus the environment you’re in and how it makes you feel while you’re eating. My meal-prep service was missing the second part.”

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Bootstrapped, Then Boosted

In 2020, Brennah graduated from Rutgers with her degree in business management — and a healthy side business. In 2021, LesbiVeggies was born thanks to a GoFundMe campaign that gave her the startup capital she needed to open her first restaurant, a 28-seat establishment on a commercial street in her village of about 8,700 people.

“At the beginning it was slow-going, because everything had to be financed out-of-pocket,” says Brennah. But the business soon took off. The community welcomed the space that she had created like it was something they had been waiting for.

It became clear that LesbiVeggies would need to expand sooner than later. So, she reached out to her local TD Bank for financing options to purchase the building next door.

Thanks to a loan from TD Bank, the restaurant and catering business expansion will begin in fall. Brennah’s vision for healthier food and a beautiful, welcoming space to eat it in will continue to unfold.

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Community Is Key

These days, though the business and staff headcount continue to expand, you’ll still find Brennah in the kitchen a couple days a week. The restaurant sees upward of 300 guests weekly, and that doesn’t include the catering business, which has been expanding at the same pace as the restaurant.

So, these days, it’s all hands-on deck, everyone pitching in to make a difference, which is how Brennah likes it.

“LesbiVeggies serves people from all walks of life from within our community and surrounding areas,” she says. “At the same time, as our name suggests, it provides a safe space for members of the LGBTQ community and people of color.”

Brennah also supports a number of community causes and remains a big fan of TD Bank. “What’s going to keep me banking at TD is the people. I truly feel a significant sense of support and community that I think is unique from other banks, and I want to keep that in my life and business.”

TD Bank is excited to work with Brennah in both helping her business grow and serving the local community.

"The LGBTQ2+ community is an incredibly diverse, multicultural and intersectional community," said Tommy Berner, TD Bank Community Business Development Officer in Philadelphia. "It's with great pride that through my role, we've not only had the ability to deepen Brennah's relationship with TD Bank, but also celebrate Brennah and LesbiVeggies as a Black-owned, queer-owned, woman-owned business."

Tommy noted the importance of having deep relationships with customers for TD Bank.

"This is how true longstanding relationships are formed," he said. "Not only does this show our commitment to our diverse customer base and the communities we serve, but it continues to drive additional business while providing us a unique opportunity with our colleagues to show exactly where TD's core values lie. Everyone has a seat at the TD table… and in this case, a table filled with some delicious food!"

Want to learn more about Our Communities?
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A First Time Home Buyer's Road to 'Yes' – Why Multi-Generational Home Buying was the Perfect Option
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