taste makers

Knoxville Weekend Feature: Crowdfunding

Knoxville Weekend Feature: Crowdfunding

Kickstarter. Gofundme. Patreon.

The options for crowdfunding these days rival the number of choices on the menu at Matt Robbs Biscuits & Brew. 

Crowdfunding is a choice some makers use as they launch their businesses. Three Knoxville makers share their thoughts about how it worked for them.

The Maker City 101 with Flour Head Bakery

The Maker City 101 with Flour Head Bakery

Mahasti Vafaie started her small business as most people do – with a big learning curve in front of her. 

An engineer who wasn’t particularly happy with her career choice, she returned to school with the vision of becoming a doctor.

Then a 1990 trip to New Orleans with her mom led her in a new direction.

“I had been working as a waitress and managing some catering, and while I was in New Orleans I thought I’d come back (to Knoxville) and open a restaurant,” she said. 

“I didn’t really have a vision when I opened it. I didn’t want ferns and brass, which is what we had in Knoxville at the time. Originally I wanted a French bistro, but the space that I found on Market Square had a pizza oven, and the landlord didn’t want to move it. I didn’t want to open a pizza place, but I thought about it over the weekend and leased the space from him.”

And with that, The Tomato Head was born, serving pizza only at lunchtime.