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Pepperdine | Graziadio Business School

A New Wave of Business: Sustainable Food Without Compromise


In today’s atmosphere, sustainability is at the forefront of many business decisions and practices. As organizations continue to grow and innovate globally, they are searching for ways to positively impact all of their stakeholders—including the environment. 

When thinking of an exemplary instance of purely sustainable business practices, Graziadio alumna Jessica Waite (MBA ‘18) comes to mind. Her phenomenally popular businesses include Wrench & Rodent, Pickled Ginger Catering, and her newest company, The Plot—each a clear example of a sustainably run business.

Growing up in Seattle, Jessica became a vegetarian at the young age of seven, eventually discovering her environmentalism affinity. Jessica began in the restaurant industry, working for Starbucks during her teenage years to gain job experience. She later began working for Claim Jumper, getting the unique opportunity to reside in Carlsbad. Attending Cal State San Marcos for her undergrad, Jessica focused on studying psychology with an emphasis in biology, further developing her passion for making a difference in people’s health. Upon her graduation, she met her—now—husband, Davin Waite, a chef. 

Starting small with their boots on the ground, Davin and Jessica developed a popup in Oceanside. Immersing herself in the culture, Jessica began falling in love with the city, admiring its “gritty” side. To bring the city they loved into their menu, they began sourcing from locally-owned vendors to create a menu focusing around sustainable seafood. Shortly after its launch, their restaurant’s popularity spread throughout the community like a massive wave. Their small popup shop eventually grew to become the now-famous Wrench & Rodent. 

Moving to today, Davin and Jessica’s newest restaurant, The Plot, boasts high-quality food that doesn’t compromise taste or health benefits. One of The Plot’s business model’s most significant aspects is that it is 100% sustainable and prosperous—proving food can be not only delicious and popular amongst consumers but also entirely eco-friendly. This principle The Plot has created sets an example to all companies, emphasizing the critical need for meeting at the intersection of profit and sustainable business practices. By accomplishing this, it better serves all stakeholders—including the environment. 

Coming across Pepperdine, Jessica found herself drawn to Graziadio’s emphasis on values-based leadership and business ethics. Her time spent at Graziadio greatly influences part of The Plot’s mission and the sustainable practices they follow to promote an ethically run business model. The relationships she built within her cohort taught her how to better work amongst others and team dynamics, allowing her to further flex her leadership skills. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be a hefty challenge for businesses on a global scale, including Jessica and Davin, but their resilience is excellent, and their optimism is greater. Jessica’s advice for other small business owners is to seek any opportunity that presents itself, whatever it may be. It’s important to remember that all businesses are experiencing difficulties, and it is imperative to be flexible and ready to pivot your overarching model. Ask for help, seek opportunities, and take advantage of anything positive that comes your way. 

In the end, businesses and people alike need to relinquish control and be satisfied with the final result. Jessica and Davin have unequivocally exhibited an impeccable business model with their flourishing restaurants, showcasing their commitments to service, purpose, and leadership. By channeling Graziadio’s mission of developing Best for the World Leaders, Jessica’s mentality truly shines brightly throughout her kind-hearted spirit and contagious enthusiasm.  

Jessica leaves us with an important message that anyone can adhere to—it is essential to focus on always doing your best, and at the end of the day, your best is all that anyone can ask for.