The city of Richmond knows itself. We’ve seen it all before — great booms, big busts, the ebb and flow of a diverse community — and learned from our experiences. The only way forward these days is to move with intention in this ever-shrinking world. At East Brother Beer, we take pride in our great city and its storied history and go forward with purpose towards a bright future.
It’s Richmond’s people that steer this ship. An intrepid group of community-builders who are dead-set on a future for Richmond as rich as its past. With Pride and Purpose they build our community and with Pride and Purpose we tell their stories.
Deborah Moss is someone you want to get lost in conversation with. Her stories are direct and impactful, and she doesn’t lie about her feelings—when Deborah tells you something, you know she’s telling it like it is.
A lot of folks in the neighborhood probably know Deborah. Along with living in Richmond for over twenty years, she’s also the owner of Quiche and Carry, a popular catering business based in the area. “I’m kind of a friendly hustler,” she says, mentioning that she met the team behind East Brother after bringing them a few of her quiches in their early days. “I would always introduce myself to new companies. Food is a really easy way to get to know people.”
Deborah didn’t always start out in food, though. Before Quiche and Carry, Deborah was selling cars. Did she like it? “I begged to get out of the car industry.” She started picking up shifts at local farmer’s markets, where she found that most folks end up bartering or giving food to other workers, leaving Deborah with tons of food to take home after each shift.
“I just started trading and I’d have a ton of food all the time because I worked for five days a week. As you can imagine, you can only eat so much.”
So what’s a good way to use up a lot of food when you have a degree in culinary arts, especially when you’re not sure what ingredients you’re going to end up with? Quiche. “I had people coming over and I always thought of quiche because you can put so many good things together at one time and it makes a good, easy meal. So I started throwing together quiches and having parties and my friends were like, these are like insane. These are so good.”
Like many people who start businesses, Quiche and Carry started at the intersection of opportunity and frustration. For awhile, Deborah thought she could work her way up in the farmer’s market circuit, but realized that she wasn’t getting where she wanted to go. On the other hand, she continued to take home produce and make exceptional quiches. “I was making these quiches and then I started thinking, ‘Well s***, why don't I make my own product, you know, do my own thing and see how it goes?’”
You remember her former career as a car salesperson—the one she couldn’t run away from fast enough? Turns out her experience in sales gave her insights into what owning your own business might look like. “I guess car sales kind of taught me that I could be an entrepreneur because you really do work for yourself...I think it's kind of in my blood. I knew how to sell things.”
Deborah started small, bringing quiches to the booths she worked, relying on the local Richmond community that knew her to be her first sample audience. The quiches continued to be a hit—so much so that one day, a buyer called her employer and asked if Deborah was going to be at the farmer’s market so they could buy more quiche.
That gave her the confidence to try to go into business on her own. She had saved $8,000, and decided that was enough to leave the farmer’s market and work for herself. She laughs at that amount now (most business owners are probably looking at that and wondering how she made it work). “$8,000...you know, that's how excited I was. I just really put myself out there trying to get into every single thing imaginable. I'm definitely a hustler.”
Quiche and Carry has been holding strong in Richmond since 2012, but the first years weren’t always easy. Deborah compares it to swimming, one of her longtime hobbies. “If you're a swimmer—or whatever you're doing in your life—your first two years, even if it's a hobby, you're not really great at it. You like it, but you don't have it down at all.”
She started feeling more comfortable as she started building trust and name recognition. At first, Deborah used to worry that any small mistakes could cost her an account or a sale, but now, she knows the community will continue to support her because they know and trust her. “It’s very intense when you start, it's like everything is so important and you gotta make sure everything's right. And now it's just...it's probably like having your first kid, you know, and then your third or fourth kid. You don't have to worry so much.”
Deborah continues to stay connected to the Richmond community by being social and friendly. She’s one to talk to her neighbors and inquire about new businesses when they move into town—and perhaps even bring them a quiche or two. You recognize Deborah by her van, emblazoned with her logo, around town. And even though Deborah has had her ups and downs about the neighborhood (she talks about the changing city and things like rising costs, issues affecting much of the Bay Area), she’s still the sociable neighbor checking in and making sure you’re doing ok.
This probably stems from her love of feeding others—both her neighbors in the Richmond area and just people in general. “I think that I love feeding people. I've noticed that about myself,” she shares. This love fuels her—and even when she’s had a rough day navigating the twists and turns of running a small business in a city like Richmond, she can turn to her neighbors and find purpose in her love of nourishing others. “It's not even just people. I feed the feral cats around here, but I'm always feeding people. I think it's just a way for me to...show love, you know?”