We had the good fortune of connecting with Sherida DeFrance and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sherida, have you built meaningful relationships at networking events? What makes you want to connect with someone, and what are things people do that make you want to steer clear?
When someone approaches me, their energy and authenticity are what make me want to connect with them. I am pretty good at analyzing a person, and if I get a vibe that has an ulterior motive, my radars immediately go up, and I want to stay as far away from them as possible. If I meet a person, and the first thing they ask me is, “Who are you, or what do you do?” I always interpret that as they have already decided if I am talented, and what can you do for me?
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I would say what sets me apart is my versatility and my unique eye for all things different. I can find that perfect outfit for a special occasion, unique gifts, and most recently, I have been assisting people who want to make the transition to a plant-based diet. I am probably most known for my vegan mac and cheese, and I think the highest someone has offered me for a pan was $200. One thing that I am most proud of was randomly going to a meatloaf cook-off to supports some teammates, and then somehow, I ended up participating. Well, the judge was a James Beard Award-winning Chef, and I made 2nd place. No one could believe a person who did not eat meat would ever win. People still will not let me live that one down. The thing that people don’t know is that I never taste my food. I barely eat after I cook. As far as things being easy for me, nothing has come easy. I make sure that I treat people well, and it pays off in the long run. The most valuable thing lesson I have learned is not to be afraid to help others along the way. A lot of the opportunities I have throughout my career have been referrals. I believe that you never know who people will become, so I don’t underestimate anyone. “Don’t just think outside of the box, but think outside the warehouse.” “YOU” are always your brand, so represent it well.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
A week? I don’t know if we would still be best friends after a week with me. The first stop would have to be Slutty Vegan for sure. The wait in line for that tasty burger is an experience that everyone should try at least once. We would have to then swing by Plantbased Princess for dessert. These are some of my favorite spots to support, and even if you are not vegan, they can make you rethink your life. We would have to go to Iwi Fresh for a spa day and catch the Cute Shuttle to show us around the Castleberry Hills area. Roswell has some of my favorite restaurants. One of them is Foundation Social Eatery. For great people watching downtown Roswell is a hidden gem. Jazz at the High Museum would be on the list with a girls’ stay at the W Hotel. Especially if we could squeeze in an excellent exhibit before then, that would be the icing on the cake. I am very spontaneous, as well as adventurous, so I might randomly see a place and just say let’s check it out so it would be a freelance week after that.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have multiple people that I would love to shout out. I would have to first start with DeJuan Boyd, from Rabbitt Productions and his wife Carol Boyd, an interior designer for being my biggest cheerleaders and supporters, and they are just great friends. Secondly, it would be Waleed Shamsid-Deen, the owner of Supreme Burger. He not only provided me with my first board position with Youth V.I.B.E., and he also allowed me to help him create a vegan burger option at his restaurant. He extended me the opportunity to work alongside him and his restaurant at SuperBowl LIII. Thirdly, it would be my friend Tia Jakes, a veteran in the hospitality industry, who was very instrumental in me learning a lot about the restaurant and serving business and assisting me in preparation for my Safe Serv Certification. Last but certainly not least would be Nyssa Green, from the Green Room Agency. She hired me on the spot as her stylist for a magazine when I first started in the industry. If I need make-up for a photo shoot, she has yet to decline if she is available. She went from being my agent to being one of my closest friends. So close that one of our conversations inspired one of the episodes on Atlanta & Company called “What about your friends?”
Photos: The Blonde Gazelle Photo: Chattanooga Skiving Company
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