You’d be forgiven for not immediately recognizing the name Tabitha Brown. Her journey to TikTok influencer was not only meteoric—since joining the platform in March, she gained 2.5 million followers—it was also somewhat miraculous.
The story goes like this: In December of 2017, Brown, a struggling actress and fledgling vegan vlogger, was moonlighting as an Uber driver when she stopped by a Los Angeles Whole Foods for lunch and discovered a vegan BLT, the TTLA (tempeh bacon, tomato, lettuce, and avocado). “A vegan BLT, honey? Give me that! Add a pickle, honey!” Brown recalls on the latest episode of a Zoom of One’s Own. “I was like Oh lord, I need to do a video to tell people I found us another vegan option.” Brown then filmed a Facebook video of herself chronicling her near-religious sandwich experience in her infectious Southern lilt.
Before the TTLA moment, Brown had been uploading these videos for an online audience of about 30. When she turned her phone on that night, the video had over 50,000 views. “I thought I had an amber alert, honey,” Brown said. “The phone was just buzzing!” The numbers continued to climb. “I told my husband, ‘I think I’m going viral?’ He was like, ‘What does that mean?’ I said, ‘I don’t know!’”
Four days later, Whole Foods contacted Brown and she became their brand ambassador for plant-based foods and the TTLA (a name she accidentally coined). The sandwich became a social media challenge, and was so popular they couldn’t keep it in stock; they sold out every day for six months.
Since then, Brown has developed her own cooking show online, and a dedicated following who have come to rely on her comforting vegan recipes—as well as her magnetic, lovable personality. In the episode above, Brown tells us about her incredible journey to Internet celebrity—and shows us how to make her famous tomato sandwich... because that’s our business!
Originally Appeared on Vogue