November 12, 2021

Tasting Success With Plant-Based Chocolate Mousse

Kellan Navarre BA ’20 works to make life a little bit sweeter for all. Her plant-based chocolate mousse company, Goddess Mousse, was born out of a Lewis & Clark classroom and has grown into a favorite of farmers markets and grocers throughout Portland.

Kellan Navarre BA '20 Kellan Navarre BA ’20In a world that is becoming increasingly interested in the goodness of our food—from the ethics of its sourcing to the quality of its ingredients—Kellan Navarre BA ’20, a sociology and anthropology major from rural Connecticut, is making her mark. She identified a gap in the market where wellness, a reduced carbon footprint, and an interest in dessert intersect.

In spring 2020, during her last semester at Lewis & Clark, she enrolled in a course on entrepreneurship taught by Brian Detweiler-Bedell, professor of psychology and director of the Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership. She soon had a “lightbulb idea.” Her friends were devoted fans of her plant-based, maple-sweetened chocolate mousse, and while dairy-free desserts were booming among home cooks, they didn’t have a strong presence in the consumer marketplace.

“I’ve always been passionate about healthy desserts, so I saw this as an opportunity to bring a unique experience into the world that offers the coexistence of nourishment and indulgence,” Navarre says.

From this idea grew her genuine interest in bringing the product to market. The Bates Center recognized the idea’s promise and awarded Navarre and Goddess Mousse a $2,000 SEED grant.

A selection of Goddess Mousse products A selection of Goddess Mousse productsNavarre began to carve out the path for her young company. While most vegan desserts use nuts or coconut as a foundation, Goddess Mousse sources handcrafted, non-GMO tofu from Ota Tofu in Southeast Portland, the oldest tofu factory in the country. From a base rich in plant protein, flavor is built from fair-trade cocoa, pure vanilla, and Oregon-harvested ingredients, such as raspberries, hazelnuts, peppermint, and sea salt.

Throughout spring 2020, Navarre attended weekly Lunch with a Leader sessions at the Bates Center with Associate Director Chrys Hutchings and Associate Director of Operations Catarina Hunter, where stories of female founders planted seeds of confidence. As Navarre began carving out the path for her young company, she quickly learned that bridging the gap between idea and execution can be challenging. Hutchings connected Navarre with an advisor, Jennifer Barney, who is an expert consumer packaged goods consultant in the food industry.

In 2021, one year after receiving the initial SEED grant, Navarre formally launched Goddess Mousse. Soon thereafter, she was awarded a second round of SEED funding, followed by a $5,000 grant from a member of the Bates Center’s Advisory Board (with the potential to renew the grant later for another $5,000).

After building a loyal following in the Portland farmers market scene, Goddess Mousse started appearing in local co-ops and cafés. Others took notice; in September 2021, Navarre was featured in the Portland Business Journal’s “Inno Under 25,” a list of promising young entrepreneurs in Portland. Next year, customers will find Navarre’s mousse on shelves at Zupan’s Market and Market of Choice.

While Goddess Mousse is currently a one-woman show, Navarre has big dreams for her start-up’s future. And in the short term, two new flavors are on the horizon: orange hazelnut chocolate for the winter season, and vanilla rose white chocolate for spring. Her North Star is clear: “If I can bring an innovative product into the world that solves a problem for people, I’m happy to serve that niche in the market.”