Happy Maki was started out of a deep desire to do something about the the dire states of our oceans. Combining her passions for the environment and public health, founder Anna wanted to let people know the truth of what eating fish was doing, alongside showing people that sushi could be sustainable, healthy and delicious without the fish. Sushi means seasoned rice after all. In 2011
Anna spend 2 months on an organic pearl farm in French Polynesia. She was very much not vegan at this point. Whilst on the Atol in the middle of the pacific ocean, free-diving in warm pristine waters, she found herself falling even more so in with love the ocean. At Kamoka Pearl Farm
, the electricity is solar, the rain water is collected, the sky is is palm tree lined and the fish enjoyed for dinner are hand selected by the method of spearfishing. After this very profound experience Anna returned to the UK with an increased appetite for fish and obsession with sushi, but quickly became aware that she had no idea where the fish she was now eating had come from and how it had gotten to that supermarket shelf.
Anna started researching how our demand for fish like salmon, shrimp, cod and tuna were affecting our oceans and came across a
Documentary called End of the Line
. It clearly showed that you couldn't claim to be an ocean lover and still eat fish. After this hard hitting truth, she had a light bulb moment..... to start a fish free sushi company. The more she subsequently learnt about the oceans the more important this mission became. In 2013
with needed encouragement and help from her boyfriend, Anna bought a wee vintage Renault van and together on a tight budget they converted it into a food truck. It was and still is interesting to drive but a real head turner. The 4 option sushi burrito menu was created and the name "Maki Matcha" was chosen. The first ever event was Veg fest in Bristol, although Anna had veganised the wraps for this event for the first 2 years real chicken and duck were sold. The first Summer involved Anna finding her feet at smaller events. With no previous experience of catering or cheffing, it was an intense learning curve of blood, sweat and tears. At each event fighting the mainstream narrative that sushi mean "raw fish". In 2014
After a wee rebrand, Happy Maki was born and started catering at larger events and trying to spread our message further. We printed ocean environmental facts on our wrappers.... but few people read them. It was clear that the majority of people didn't care to much about the issues of overfishing and potential extinction of tuna, they were just looking for some good food which is fair enough. We didn't want to be forcing information on anyone thats for sure, but we could lead by example, have conversations and plant seeds. After the second year of cooking with meat and continuing her education on environmental and health issues, Anna heard that famous line in the documentary Cowspiracy..."You cannot be an environmentalist and still eat meat". In 2015
Happy Maki and Anna had to go vegan and they've never looked back. The main driving force behind Happy Maki has always been Anna's love of the environment and healthy fast food so if she ever learns that things can be done in a better way then this is implemented, even if it means going against the grain.
Vegan and vegetarian food was becoming more popular or at least accepted, especially at music festivals. It became clear that financially this was the best place to sell our vegan sushi burritos. By the third summer Happy Maki was catering at most of the top UK music festivals including Glastonbury. Once people gave the vegan sushi a go, they fell in love and we became very popular. We did still have the occasional person mocking us and assuming the food would be bad. However the vast majority of meat eaters were surprised and delighted and the q's began to speak for themselves. Our customers then started asking, do you have a shop?...In 2017
Our first store opened in the South Lanes of Brighton. Another challenge of taking on more responsibility and learning new ropes. Up until now Anna had enjoyed the lifestyle of working hard during the summer and then adventuring, skiing and working on other projects in the winters.
The shop is right next to Brighton beach and is run by a fantastic team of mangers, chefs and ninjas all passionate about the food they make. The menu has developed into 10 great wraps options, sweet treats and tasty sides. As a result it has become a much loved Brighton foodie hotspot for grabbing your sushi beach picnics.
For the next two years, Anna ran the business with her then partner Ali, who was a big help and key part of the business expansion at this time. Alongside work, Anna has spent a lot of time continuing her personal education. She has always been fascinated by the body and loved learning the effects that emotions have on it through the study of topics such as epigenetics, disease healing and radical remission. It was clear to her that the role of emotions was being underplayed in the world and that we were obsessed with looking the at the physical for answers and solutions. Anna could also see this in herself, that she often took more care and effort over how she was affecting the environment than how she was emotionally treating herself and the people around her. So how does this link into Happy Maki's timeline story and the goal of creating a truly ethical business?It was in 2017
Anna also started properly learning about the Divine Truth teachings, which had been introduced to her the year before by a dear friend. These have been by far her most important learning resources to date, unmeasurably so. It has shown her the truth about why our emotions have such a large effect on our bodies and why focusing on healing our childhood trauma and their resulting harmful and limiting emotions, is the fastest route to true change and happiness which results almost effortlessly in truly moral and ethical behaviour.
The teachings lead her to look more closely at the emotions surrounding money. She discovered more about the concept of Gift Economy and researched what business's were trying it, on what scales and with what success. At first she found it interesting but had many excuses to hand as to why it wouldn't work in a "business like hers". Especially in the UK, where people are so awkward and shifty about money!In 2019
After more reflection Anna came to connect to the fact that Gift Economy is the only way to run a truly ethical business and actually got very excited by the beautiful potenital of it all. Test events took place and the team learnt that to make the transition to Gift Economy as smooth as possible Happy Maki needed clear messaging and financial transparency. It also needed an easy to use donation based till system, which didn't exist yet, so, she got to work. In 2020
After the whole business model had been thrown in the air due to Covid. Happy Maki shut for 6 weeks and the new Brighton restaurant project was put on hold. The current shop was retrofitted so that when it re-opened in May for take-away only, we'd hit the ground running with our Gift Economy experiment. For the full story on Gift Economy and how its going for us please check out the Gift Economy
Now in 2021
Happy Maki is soon to open its second restaurant in Brighton, with a larger menu and big eat in area. The main driving force behind this local expansion versus national growth was two fold. Firstly to experiment with a larger eat in space and menu which included a range of sushi bowls and raw vegan options. Secondly it was to create a space where people could connect and learn from each through presentations, workshops and documentary viewings. Documentaries have been a huge passion of Anna's and have proven to be life changing on several occasions and she wants to create a space where this passion can be shared along side healthy, cruelty free food given as a gift.
What keeps Happy Maki motivated through these challenging times? After all this learning and transition, what is our business goal going forwards?To do kind and loving business is our primary goal and motivator.
We will continue to focus our efforts on working towards this and all that it encompasses.