Search & Replace S04E15: Hannah Pleasant

Faced with a worsening dairy intolerance, Hannah Pleasant turned her love for baking into a thriving business by creating vegan, allergen-free treats. From navigating the challenges of starting a business in Kansas to becoming a part of her customers’ special moments, Hannah’s story is a testament to resilience, adaptability, and the power of following your passion. Tune in to Search and Replace and discover how a twist of fate led to sweet success! 

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialists at Johns & Taylor. More information follows this episode  

[00:00:11] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if your brain goes all in on a big idea, but the rest of your body says no?  

[00:00:17] I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace.  

[00:00:23] Sometimes on the show, we talk with folks who made one big decision based on what their gut was telling them. And sometimes we talk with folks like Hannah Pleasant, who just took a spin on what the universe had in store for her.  

[00:00:36] Hannah Pleasant: I was in New York City after graduation. I worked as a footwear designer. It’s something 14-year-old me was always wanting to do. So when 2020 hit, they stopped production for the line of business that I worked for.  

[00:00:53] So what happened was my parents were living in Kansas and, you know, my time in New York was kind of up. So I went back home with them and was just trying to figure out what to do next. And so I was kind of like well, maybe I’ll go back to school. And I was also working with a career counselor at the time for the local community college that I was attending and so, basically, I was taking some different tests to sort of like analyze your strengths and what career fields you’d be good at. And so pastry chef kind of came up and so I was like, well, I’ve always enjoyed baking. I did it just for fun. Cooking was more of my first love, but baking. I really just did just for fun.  

[00:01:30] Joe Taylor Jr.: So Hannah starts taking pastry lessons and she gets accepted to a well regarded professional culinary education program. There’s just one hitch in the plan.  

[00:01:40] Hannah Pleasant: I realized that my dairy intolerance had become worse. So, even though I really wasn’t eating, like, milk and cheese, I was still trying to eat butter, but my body was like, you can’t eat this anymore. So, I literally was like, okay, if we’re gonna do this, get into baking, I gotta make things vegan. And so, that’s really what led me to even like the thought of making vegan desserts. Because at first I was like I was just making regular dessert and I had some requests from some friends and family friends that I knew. But I was like, I’ll never do vegan desserts. But then I was swallowing my words because I was like I can’t even eat regular baked goods anymore. And I love cake like that’s like my first love.  

[00:02:18] So that’s how I got into the vegan baking scene and so I didn’t even go through with the program My chef instructors were like you should just get started. And so that’s exactly what I did.  

[00:02:28] Joe Taylor Jr.: So that’s how Hannah launched the Bougie Vegan Bakery. It’s her business that ships a vegan baked goods all over the United States.  

[00:02:36] Hannah didn’t just challenge herself to make vegan delicacies though some important people in her life helped set the bar even higher.  

[00:02:41] Hannah Pleasant: I really wanted to make sure that it could be very inclusive. 

[00:02:47] So my brothers are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. So I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t including those major allergens in the baked goods. So, it’s already like everything’s vegan. But then on top of that, I’m adding the layer of some of these common allergens. I’m not including them. I don’t include soy either. 

[00:03:04] So, I tried to make things, like, as neutral as possible. And so I was like, I don’t really want to use any non-dairy milks. I want to keep it very simple. I was like, I don’t want to use, there’s a lot of egg alternatives. And I was like, I’m not going to be using anything that would just, kind of, throw people off a little bit. 

[00:03:19] So I think that I just tried to make things as neutral as possible. And the experimentation with that has honestly just evolved. Like day one to now it has changed. And I always say, like, it’s really just a matter of science and trial and error, to be honest with you.  

[00:03:36] But the key for me was, like making sure that it didn’t contain major allergens, the texture is there, and so I think that that has really just come with time. It didn’t happen when I first launched, but I think that today where it stands, like, I’m really pleased and I think that it’s speaking for itself now, for sure. 

[00:03:53] Joe Taylor Jr.: Although she recently moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, Hannah learned a lot from launching her vegan bakery in Kansas. A state that’s not always known for its plant-based cuisine.  

[00:04:04] Hannah Pleasant: Starting out in Kansas, it was interesting because the plant-based scene there, vegan scene, is not nearly what it is in other cities. A lot of the audience that I was selling to, they weren’t even vegan. They were like cattle ranchers, big meat eaters, but they were open to having it.  

[00:04:21] And so the farmer’s market that I got into out there, it was outside. So that was really, really grueling. I mean, I had my own tent that I’m bringing every weekend and so I was grateful that I had my parents there to be able to help me and support me physically. Especially on selling. And I still don’t love having to sell to people, but in the beginning like it was really tough. What do they call, like, introverted extrovert? Like that’s me because I’m like, I’m not one to be in your face and put myself out there like that.  

[00:04:50] So people don’t realize, like, how much really goes into it. Like it’s one thing to make everything, but then having to like physically be present, answering questions, but then also do it with a warmth and a smile and presenting yourself friendly is, you know, it’s just so much to it that people don’t really see, but it is definitely a grind. My feet hurt all the time. Baking is a lot of labor for sure.  

[00:05:10] Joe Taylor Jr.: Hannah’s career journey from footwear to fancy cakes has opened up a whole new opportunity for personal and professional satisfaction.  

[00:05:19] Hannah Pleasant: I get to be a part of people’s special moments, whether it’s birthdays, anniversaries, baby gender reveal cakes. That is a huge opportunity to be a part of because, I mean, they don’t have to choose Bougie. They could very much make a cake at home, experiment if they wanted to.  

[00:05:34] So, for me, I feel like that’s really what keeps me going is like it’s so much bigger than like just making dessert. Like it’s a part of people’s memories I think that’s really what keeps me going. Aside from the job loss and not being able to find other work. So it’s just clear to me like this is definitely the trajectory and a path that I’m being led on. 

[00:05:53] You really have no idea what things could turn out if you just took that leap of faith and just tried it. Because it may really surprise you. Like, I think at the end of the day, being an entrepreneur and following your passion, like, there’s so many people that just don’t even have the guts to do it. And so I think that you just having the courage just to step out and do it is huge. 

[00:06:14] And you just know that like along the way, you’re gonna learn, you’re gonna evolve, you’re gonna get more confident in it. But I think the biggest thing is just getting started and just taking that first initial step because there’s a lot of stuff that you just can’t plan for until you come across it. 

[00:06:27] So, you gotta push fear out the window and just, just dive in and go for it. You’re gonna learn to swim along the way.  

[00:06:35] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s Hannah Pleasant, founder of the Bougie Vegan Bakery, shipping her signature vegan cakes and chocolate chunk cookies across the United States. We’ve got links to Hannah’s bakery and some other resources for you in our show notes and on our website at  

[00:06:50] Search and Replace was produced by Nicole Hubbard, with support from Connie Evans, Amelia Lohmann, April Smith, and Podcast Taxi executive producer Lori Taylor.  

[00:07:01] Our theme music was composed by Alex Rufire, I’m Joe Taylor, Jr.  

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production.  

[00:07:09] Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns & Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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