University of Richmond alumna took time to cultivate her skills and find her passion before opening her own business, Lady Epicure Gourmet.
Tenaj Ferguson, ’11, has never felt limited by her major. “It’s not always about what you study in school – that’s the starting point. It’s really about finding your passion and taking advantage of opportunities.”
During her time at Richmond, Ferguson frequented the Office of Alumni and Career Services (OACS) to discuss career options that align with her interests. She worked with a career advisor, as well as attended numerous events, including “Bridging the Gap: Exploring Health & Science Options” and the “Idealist Graduate School Fair” to explore different industries and avenues.
Her work with OACS paid off when she landed her dream job at Dr. Oz’ HealthCorps, a nonprofit created to combat childhood obesity by educating high-need populations about healthy lifestyles.
Ferguson loved her experience at HealthCorps and used the skills she gained to help forge her own professional destiny. During her time there, she worked with McCormick, an American food company specializing in spices and flavorings, on a health study answering the question: how can we get young people to eat more spices and herbs?
This question stuck with her.
After her work at HealthCorps, Ferguson attended the University of Maryland. One day on campus she saw a flyer for “Innovation Fridays.” She had some free time, so she decided to go and talk about some of her business ideas. One idea was a popsicle business that would use all natural ingredients and showcase international flavors – especially ones inspired by her hometown in the Bahamas.
The school loved her idea and nominated her to be part of a business incubator that helped start and grow her business, Lady Epicure Gourmet.
“The food industry is one industry that has more power than almost any other industry out there. The same product you made in the US could land in the Caribbean, Europe, or Africa,” she said. “Opening my business was an opportunity for me to showcase international cuisine and global culture and still have my focus on healthier eating.”
Ferguson said that these days almost anyone can become an entrepreneur.
“It’s about being creative within the rules of business. You have to find the gaps and grow your business into them,” she said.
Ferguson runs Lady Epicure Gourmet with her sister, and fellow Richmond alumna, Tajh Ferguson, ’10. She is currently going to the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, to gain the skills needed to run her business. She has received multiple awards including, a Texas Venture Lab Scholarship, Forte Fellowship, and Consortium Scholarship.
Written By: Katie Mogul, '15