Meet the Alabama Business Bringing Flavor to the Southeastern B Corp Community: Abadir’s

Meet the chef behind Alabama’s newest B Corp, Sarah Cole, Founder & CEO of Abadir’s, pictured here in the garden at her Greensboro, AL headquarters. 

Sarah Cole started Abadir’s with one goal: to use food in a purpose-driven way to nourish people and strengthen her community in the Alabama Black Belt. From the start, Abadir’s has put a huge emphasis on giving back to the community and finding sustainable ways to serve delicious dishes. 

So, when Abadir’s was selected to be a part of the 2023 Alabama Certifyin’ and Storytellin’ B Corp Cohort, it was no surprise that they ended up certifying with an incredibly impressive score of 120.1.

With the official approval from B Lab Global now in the rearview mirror, we sat down with Sarah to talk about the journey, why she certified, and what’s next for the business.  

PPC: Congrats on certifying Abadir’s as a B Corp! How does it feel to finally be able to say that?

Sarah: To be honest, I still can’t believe we’re a part of this beautiful, growing community! As a consumer, I’ve always tried to be mindful of the companies I’m supporting, and B Corp businesses tend to be at the top of my shopping list when possible. Some of my most favorite people in the food realm run a thriving B Corp, and to be included in the mix is pretty exciting. 

Abadir’s Cottage in Greensboro, AL. Founder, Farmer, & Chef Sarah Cole takes pride in her dedication to her local and regional community.

Abadir’s is still a fairly small operation, and while I have no plans of becoming a giant corporation–I’m very dedicated to my local and regional community–I do think it’s important to set the tone as I grow the business. While “Certified B Corp” may be unfamiliar to people outside of the business world, it does provide a sense of curiosity when I tell folks about Abadir’s and what I’m working to create. 

It offers a more structured, more supportive way of telling people about Abadir’s, and its future. While I don’t need the certification to feel validated in my efforts, it does give a sense of credibility and trust that I believe is very important, especially with this new generation of consumers. Being able to say, “Oh, yeah. And we’re a Certified B Corp,” and having a chance to tell people what that actually means feels really good and empowering. 

PPC:  We first met at an Alabama B Corps happy hour last January. Why did you decide to embark on this journey, and how did working with a Southeast B Corp consultant help you successfully certify? 

Sarah: I’ve always described Abadir’s as a purpose-driven business, so it felt only fitting to “officially” join a community of like-minded businesses and organizations working to do good through their efforts. The meetings were so fun, and I was able to meet some folks who had either completed their B Corp journey or had just started the process. They were all so encouraging and the support really pushed me to commit to the challenge. 

I had started the process the year prior, but immediately gave up as the assessment process was extremely daunting, especially for this very small (but mighty and growing!) business of one. There were also a lot of requirements that I was unfamiliar with. It was extremely overwhelming trying to figure it all out on my own. I don’t think I would have completed the process by myself, so working with a Southeast B Corp consultant was vital. 

I want to emphasize “Southeast” as I do think the regionality of our connection was very important to the process. The team was just as passionate as I was about representing our region in this growing B Corp community. I am so grateful for all the work Nathan and Jenna put into making this happen. They are so knowledgeable and so kind and thoughtful. A dream team to work with! They didn’t pay me to say that. I truly mean it. Couldn’t have done it without them!

PPC: The cohort you were a part of led to quite the boom in the Alabama B Corp community, growing from one to six in less than 12 months. And all of them are women-led businesses stretching across the entire state, from Huntsville to Mobile. Why are we seeing this demand and what does it say about the business community across the state? 

Sarah: The future is female. What else can I say? How refreshing and energizing it is to see all of these women-led businesses come together to not only make an impact in our communities, but also shed some positive light on this diverse and vibrant state. There is a big, beautiful group of humans in Alabama fighting to make this place better for ourselves and others, and while we may not always be in the spotlight, we’re here behind-the-scenes getting things done, and women really know how to get things done. 

I’m hoping that this sets the tone for other businesses to join in on our community. I also hope this encourages new businesses or aspiring entrepreneurs to really consider how they build a business in this day and age. There are many ways we can make an impact in our own backyards, and for business-owners, building a purpose-driven operation is a powerful way to let our voices be heard. 

PPC: Rumor has it that the BLD Southeast team is planning to bring you in for some of the catering at this year’s conference. And we’ve got another event on the books at the end of March in Birmingham where we’ll finally get to try your falafel. How important is it to see some immediate new bookings from your fellow B Corps and how can the rest of the southeastern B Corp community continue to welcome our newer B Corps and encourage more businesses in our region to certify? 

Sarah: Being a part of the community is one thing. Receiving support from your community is another. In a world that’s all about cheap, fast and convenient mass consumption, it can be difficult to convince consumers to support real businesses doing real work, work that values people over dollars. Until that concept becomes the norm, our community has to work together to support one another, and to encourage others–not just B Certified business owners–to be a part of the change as well. 

Sure it’s a lofty dream, but many small steps can make a huge impact, and taking many small steps and leaps together can drive that change. One of the reasons I decided to take the leap into B Corp status was because another female-led B Corp encouraged me to join the community in a very genuine and insightful way. That support really helped me with my decision, so I do believe it’s important for our community to encourage more businesses to certify, especially in this region. 

The more of us that exist, the more good work we can do together. I’m very grateful for my community thus far, and while I’m still very new to the B Corp world, I do feel supported in my efforts and that’s important. 

Anyone else suddenly very excited for BLD Southeast this year? 

PPC: With your initial B Corp certification behind you, what can we expect to see from Abadir’s in 2024? 

Sarah: Abadir’s is in the fun and exciting stage of growth. I’ve always seen this operation as being a multi-faceted food-focused endeavor with a love for our home region–the Alabama Black Belt–as the core of everything that we create. While pop-up mode has been good to me these first three years, it’s time to take some leaps. 

This year, I’m working to open my little multi-use food space in my town that’ll not only feature retail products and good food options from Abadir’s, but other regionally produced items from other purpose-driven businesses as well. I want to create this beautiful, thriving third-space for my community that’s welcoming and inclusive. The retail is just a small portion of the venture. I’m inviting other chefs and educators to use the space for community dinners, pop-ups or building their own businesses. It will also be an educational space where we can teach cooking classes and host food-based workshops and programs. 

A community pop-up dinner at Abadir’s in Greensboro, AL. In 2024, they’ll be creating a retail space to sell their food, and a community kitchen that will offer cooking classes and be available to other small businesses that need a space to make their products. 

I also run a non-profit in my “free time,” and we’re building a beautiful, community-driven farmers market that’s taking place right beside my space downtown. There are so many things in the works this year, but one thing I’m most excited about is branching out into small-scale manufacturing–very small-scale–with Abadir’s spice blends and pita pockets and other delicious eats being sold at various shops around Alabama. An Alabama-made product in shops across the state with “Certified B Corp” on our little labels. That’s the icing on the cake. 

Profitable Purpose Consulting is a full service culture and impact agency that specializes in B Corp certification. While they’re headquartered in Georgia and their heart is in the southeast, they work with clients around the world and have a network just as global. At PPC, it’s not just the certification, it’s successfully implementing every part of the process and telling the story of the good you do.