Chayilah Oldham felt much better eating a vegan diet, so why not share those foods with others?
She’s been vegan for eight years, and started production for her business, Noice Foods Ltd., in October 2019. The products are prepared in the Manitou Art Center’s commercial kitchen at 515 Manitou Ave.
Oldham obtained her wholesale and retail license, “got her foot in the door” with a couple of wholesalers and focused on them as farmers markets shut down during the worst of the pandemic.
“It was such a crazy time to start a food business, but the demand for flavorful, plant-based food around this area is what’s kept us in business,” she said.
That’s also kept her healthy.
“I had a lot of health issues growing up, and after switching over to a clean plant-based diet, I seriously feel younger now than I did in my late teens/early 20s. I also have more sustained physical energy,” said Oldham, who grew up in Missouri farm country.
She’s married to musician Daniel Oldham, and both perform with All Aboard around Manitou Springs and nearby areas. It wasn’t easy for them to switch to a vegan diet at first, but she kept experimenting.
“I made a lot of meals my friends would call ‘slop,’ but the flavors were on point. It boils down to having the right amount of texture, flavor and variety of foods so that you’re not becoming nutrient-deprived,” she said.
Oldham sources high-quality, clean ingredients from trusted companies and, whenever possible, local ones.
One example is the oil used in many Noice products. Colorado Mills, based in Lamar, processes Colorado-grown sunflowers on site. That yields a high-oleic oil, which means it’s full of the monounsaturated fats that are better for us.
She creates the recipes, many of which are gluten-free, drawing her inspiration from various resources.
“Cooking and baking in a high-altitude town, alongside trying to find the right chemical reactions to produce a vegan alternative, is always challenging, but thankfully there is a very supportive community online that shares their own trials and errors to learn from,” Oldham said.
She emphasized that the business wouldn’t be as successful as it is without Samantha and James Galloway.
Oldham was feeling burned out from preparing all the food by herself so, in fall 2020, she asked Samantha Galloway if she’d be interested in helping out.
“She has been such a perfect fit for this company and incredibly integral in the past year and a half of growth. I could not keep up with our demand if it wasn’t for her,” Oldham said.
The Galloways are independent contractors for Noice because, Oldham said, that allows them to grow with the company. Together, they spend about 35 hours per week in the kitchen.
Oldham said the three of them make an incredible team, and keeping it small means the company can be more flexible. During their busy season, Noice produces about 32 loaves of bread and 10- to 15-dozen sweet treats every week.
The team approach allows Oldham more time for singing and writing songs with All Aboard and training with White Light Reiki. The Galloways comprise High Mountain Duet, a “heartfelt folk duet” that also performs at local venues.
Their products can be purchased through Square, noice-foods.square.site; Manitou Made, manitoumade.com; Moonlight Markets, 5-8 p.m. first Fridays in July, August and September in the Manitou Art Center parking lot, 513/515 Manitou Ave.; and at the Colorado Farm & Art Market, 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays at the Colorado Springs Independent building, 235 S. Nevada Ave.
Noice also supplies salad dressings and sweets to Bread & Butter Neighborhood Market, 602 S. Nevada Ave.; Manitou Ranch dressing to Bambino’s Urban Pizzeria, 36 E. Bijou St.; and sweets to The Garden, 401 S. Nevada Ave., and to The Loft, 934 Manitou Ave., No. 105. The Tossed food truck offered Noice sweets and spring rolls at this year’s Meadowgrass Music Festival.
Oldham had a tough time narrowing down her favorites, but decided on the aged cashew cheese, slow-ferment sourdough bread and cupcakes.
Owning a business, especially in the food industry, means endless challenges, she said. Right now, she’s dealing with inflated costs and supply issues.
But she wouldn’t have it any other way, because she loves supporting people who want vegan alternatives.
“Plant-based alternatives have come a long way in the past eight years, and some companies have done a great job at nailing the mark. However, there is still a lack of quality, clean ingredients in prepackaged food items,” Oldham said.
“I love being able to have a company that chooses to provide both of those for our local community.”