SALT LAKE CITY Bleu Adams doesn't consider herself much
of a "people person," which is why she knows she picked the wrong
profession to be in a profession she enjoys nonetheless.
Adams runs her own restaurant. She said she named her business
after herself, calling it the "Black Sheep." With tattoos and a
nose ring, she said she's always struggled to fit in.
Adams spent years on the Navajo Nation reservation, where her
family lived in a traditional one-room home, called a hogan. Her
family later moved to Provo when Adams was 11 years old.
"There was no running water, no electricity," she said of growing
up on the reservation. "My oldest brother, it would rain, and he
would put a bar of soap in our hand and shove us out in the rain,
and that's how we would shower."
Despite the challenges, Adams says those were the best years
of her life and shaped her into who she is today.
"My mother would make food pies and burritos and
we'd take them around and sell them," she recalled. "And that's
how we survived for a couple of years."
Adams built on her experiences, and now runs two successful
restaurants one in Provo, and one in Sugar House. Part of
earning that success came from being extremely cautious, remembering
what it was like to get by on so little.
"It took me about six years from when I wrote my business plan
to actually opening," she said. "During that time, we would go to
restaurants that had closed down and bought discounted equipment
and put it in storage."
Adams, bottom left, with her family on the Navajo Nation Reservation.
(Photo: Family Photo)
Now, along with her brother, who's the head chef in the kitchen
at Black Sheep, Adams has made a life out of selling a unique blend
of Native American-inspired food to people who may have never tasted
"We're almost mythical," she laughed. "We're almost mythical
creatures, here on our own land."
Adams said her people often struggle to build businesses and
aren't represented well in the world of restaurants.
"Native Americans have contributed 2/3 of the world's agriculture,"
she said. "We've influenced every cuisine out there. This is a way
to kind of get us back. Get us a voice."
order is finished at Black Sheep in Sugar House. (Photo: Ray
Boone, KSL TV)
And she's channeling her success back to the place where she
grew up. Adams is spending her profits on setting up a place on
the reservation a business incubator called "IndigeHub,"
where others can learn how to use computers and get their businesses
"I want to create a place where people can go and have access
to state of the art equipment computers, iPads, and programs,
everything from Word to Adobe Photoshop," she said. "And get mentorship
on how to use that, and basic skills like how to write a resume,
all the way up to how to write a business plan."
almost mythical. We're almost mythical creatures, here on
our own land."
Adams says many on the reservation often struggle to get on
their feet because much of the area lacks the necessary infrastructure
businesses need. Her goal is to take what she's learned from the
restaurant business and use it to teach others.
"My parents were always very giving," she said. "They taught
us 'You don't succeed without your people benefiting from that success.'"
Sheep in Sugar House is Bleu Adams' second location, after
she found success in Provo. (Photo: Ray Boone, KSL TV)
And that success is bringing big opportunities. The James Beard
Foundation in New York, a renowned non-profit culinary arts group,
is flying Adams to Boston for their "Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership
Program," so she can learn from and help teach aspiring restaurateurs.
"It's an entrepreneurial workshop tailored towards women entrepreneurs,
restaurant owners, and women chefs," she said.
A major accolade one Adams couldn't be more proud of.