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Founder Feature: Heather Donaldson of Mad Cheese

Meet Heather Donaldson.

Owner of Mad Cheese.

"Follow your passion and your instinct. When you truly love what you are doing it shows in every aspect of your business. "

Mad Cheese creates and produces small-batch, artisan, vegan cheese, and charcuterie.


Q: What makes Cincinnati a great place to start a business?

A: Cincinnati is such a friendly, helpful city. The vegan community (including customers and other business owners) has been especially helpful and welcoming since I launched Mad Cheese last year.

Q: How did a grant from Main Street Ventures impact you and your business?

A: The Main Street Ventures Grant is incredibly impactful for Mad Cheese! It will allow us to hire a part-time employee and move to a larger, better-equipped kitchen, which will allow us to increase our production and extend the shelf-life of our products.

Q: What does a typical day in your life look like?

A: I spend the first thirty minutes of my day with coffee - outside on my deck when the weather is nice - checking emails and social media for the business. Depending on the day of the week, I either make deliveries to local restaurants and businesses, head to the stores to pick up ingredients, or head to the kitchen to fill orders and package products. On less busy weeks, sometimes I am able to fit in time to film myself making a recipe using our products (which I then post on social media) or work on new product recipes. Late afternoon and early evening are for returning phone calls, answering emails, ordering supplies, and taking care of any accounting or computer-related work.

Q: Were you entrepreneurial when you were younger?

A: Absolutely! I started a mural business in my 20's that grew and became successful, and that transitioned into me having a studio for many years and creating my own individual artwork, which ended up being sold in galleries and to private collectors.

Q: What’s a recent book, podcast, or news story that you found interesting?

A: "Ottolenghi Flavor" by Yotam Ottolenghi is a vegetarian cookbook with lots of vegan options. The author uses many ingredients that are new to me, so I've really enjoyed finding those ingredients and working with them in the kitchen to see how they might be able to work in new products for us.

Q: What's next for Mad Cheese?

A: We want to expand Mad Cheese so that it is used in more restaurant menus across the city, giving people more plant-based options to choose from wherever they happen to go.


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