Food Entrepreneur SAN DIEGO — Providing innovative plant-based meals for clients as a private chef is how the company Madly Hadley began. During her time as a chef, founder Madelyn Hadley saw the market for plant-based products was changing, with an emphasis on products formulated using ingredient perceived as clean.

“The top ingredients for plant-based cheeses are usually water, oil, thickener and natural flavor,” she said. “I feel like that’s the go to recipe for plant-based companies. People need more access to whole foods and plant-based items.”

Hadley made the jump to consumer packaged goods (CPG) when her light for being a chef was dimming. She took the vegan coconut bacon bits and grated cashew Parmesan she was creating for clients as toppings and developed her first CPG brand.

Madly Hadley’s products are organic, soy free, gluten-free and free of natural flavors.

“I wanted to create a brand that would resonate with consumers,” she said. “This is not some big company cranking out whatever was developed by food scientists — these are chef quality products.”

Most vegan bacon may not taste appealing to consumers, which is another reason for creating Madly Hadley.

“It’s very polarizing,” she said. “If you’re expecting Beyond or Impossible bacon, this is not for you. But if you’re trying to get the same smoky, crunchy, savory element as bacon, this is that.” 

After perfecting her formulations for industrial manufacturing and finding the right partners, Madly Hadley launched in December 2020.

“I thought there would be more potential to share what I was doing on a small scale on a bigger scale,” she said. “So I thought launching this brand would be a great vehicle to share these types of foods with more people.”

Hadley’s focus now is honing in on making bigger strides for the company.

“I want to balance out my profitability,” Hadley said. “Foodservice is awesome and retail is expensive. I’m trying to have a healthier balance between the two to keep the cash coming in. The natural and specialty channels have been my next step and where I’ve been expanding the most.”

The company has come from humble beginnings but recently closed on its first crowdfunding round at the end of April, raising approximately $99,000.

“My family put money in to start it then I got an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan,” she said. “Getting more investment to continue to scale the company was essential.”

The funds will help Hadley keep up with purchase orders and adding personnel.

“It’s been just me for a long time (and) I’m at a cap,” she said. “I can’t grow the business anymore when I’m so bogged down with running it.” 

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