They say life is what happens while you’re making other plans. This quote describes the path of Stacey “Soul” Winters, owner of Soul Wired Café in Jackson, Mississippi.

In 2009, Winters quit her customer service job and followed her love of the arts. In 2010, she opened the doors of Soul Wired Cafe on a shoestring budget. Although similar venues in the area have been modeled after the café, Soul Wired Cafe has become a leader in the Jackson, Mississippi community, a sacred space for the city’s artists, poets, and musicians to showcase their talents and share their love of creativity. Its success has also landed the café on CNN’s “Anthony Bourdain’s: Parts Unknown. “

Before the pandemic, Winters struggled to keep her business afloat as she cared for her ailing mother. But it was the pandemic that made Winters’ mission apparent: to help change the health of those in her community. After mandates forced her to close the cafe, Winters decided to generate income by hosting vegan popups, offering healthy meals to those interested in improving their health as the virus ravaged Black communities.

Food has always been a mainstay in the life of this openly gay native of Ethel, Mississippi, a small town near the birthplace of media mogul Oprah Winfrey. In what Winters calls, “The Land of Barbeque, Fried Foods, Pork Chops, and the Blues,” the meat-heavy diet she grew up on is still prevalent. But one staple that is still readily available is the fresh vegetables grown on the rural land. She values the land’s bounty today and wants to share its benefits with those in her community.

“My target is not the vegan community. My target is people who eat meat to show them that eating differently is not as hard as it looks, not as bad as you think it is. In our community, flavor is everything. Just try it,” Winters said.

Coming soon for the café will be making delicious, healthy food available to clients nationwide via online ordering and next-day shipping. Winters admits running and maintaining her business takes dedication and patience, but she’s confident that she’s doing her life’s work.

Go to the Soul Wired Café website to donate and for more information on upcoming offerings.