In 2018 Valene Hatathlie was working towards her master’s degree from Arizona State University while holding down a full-time job.
After getting laid off from her job, Val had to find another way to pay for tuition, program fees, and books. Initially, she tried selling her woven twill rugs, but there wasn’t much demand for her first venture.
As fate would have it, she overheard an event coordinator at the Native Art Market mention that the market needed a frybread vendor. It turned out to be one of those entrepreneurial ‘a-ha moments.’
Growing up, Val was the frybread specialist in her family; she had been making it for as long as she could remember. Val asked the event coordinator if she could start selling frybread, and the next weekend, her stand was set up at the Native Art Market and Val’s Frybread was officially in business.
The demand for her traditional Navajo bread exceeded her highest expectations. She was able to use the revenue for tuition and graduated from Arizona State University in May 2020. Since then, Val’s Frybread has grown from a small, family-run stand into multiple pop-up locations.
The Pandemic threw another curveball at Val and her plans. In early 2020, she was forced to cancel an event in Colorado. After joking with her graphic designer, Justin Gilbert of Kuvua Designs, about making a frybread mix and mailing it to Colorado, she decided that might just be the way forward. To overcome the challenges of COVID-19, Val started making mixes and shipping them throughout the U.S. and Canada. What started as a joke became a big part of her revenue, and her online store is now thriving in 2022.
Val’s continues to offer some of the tastiest, fluffiest, most perfect frybread available. Customers can enjoy it however they like — with honey, powdered sugar, cinnamon, salt, or all of the above. Buy a bag and let us know what you think!
Just as the history of frybread represents resilience, Val’s is here today because of one woman’s determination and passion for sharing a treat with others.
“Val’s Frybread & Sweetgrass Trading Company partnered to bring Val’s Frybread mix to a broader audience,” Valene Hatathlie, owner of Val’s Frybread, said. “Frybread is not a traditional food, however, it represents resilience amongst all Indigenous peoples. Each tribe has their own recipe of Frybread, all we did was package it for quick & convenient preparation. Thanks to Sweetgrass Trading Company, Val’s Frybread mix is available to their customers.”