Growing up with no sisters or girls her age, Veronica would play in her backyard, pretending the leaves were collard greens "or trying to mix the dirt with the water and make pies."
She always paid attention to how her mother cooked Sunday dinners because those were a big Southern tradition.
Veronica thought she was going to be a teacher but that never happened: she joined her mother and aunts in a series of southern food ventures, each one called Southern Girls.
That included a Laurelton restaurant, another one across the street from her current location, a food truck in Brooklyn, and even converting her mother's garage into a kitchen for a delivery service serving barber shops, nail salons, and stores.
Veronica's mother and aunt work with her at the current Southern Girls: "They're right here. They don't miss a beat. And if it wasn't for them... I don't know...."
PHOTO OF MOM
My mother's name is Janie Hoskins. Definitely an inspiration to me.
I learned cooking from watching her. My mom is 76 years old and the energy she has... she still comes in every day... she works, she pulls the gate, ain't nothing she can't do.
There have been times I've been like: "How is this lady still moving and I'm still tired? "
So when I look at her, I look at this picture, and it keeps me motivated. "If my mom can do it, I can keep pushing my dreams. I don't have to stop. I'm going to keep going, going, going."
I have her picture hanging in the restaurant. Every morning, when I come in, I see it and I know I gotta keep going. This picture was taken maybe 15 years ago.
Especially in this business, some days are better than others. Sometimes you can really feel like giving up 'cause you had a bad week or a bad month. Everything's not great.
But when I just look at this picture, and I know how much she's inspired me to where I'm at and what I'm trying to become... I just keep moving.
IF MY MOM CAN DO IT, I CAN STILL KEEP PUSHING MY DREAMS.
I have two of my daughters working with me side by side. One of my daughters is like a rock. She inspires me too. She runs the place, she comes in, she does everything that needs to be done. She's 27.
I have another daughter and she'll be 20. They both are taking business courses so they can learn the business part of it as well. My son pitches in too.
My mother grew up in Little Washington, North Carolina. She learned cooking from her mother. She moved up to New York to find a better way of life. You can only go so far in the south.
This picture is like a before and after effect. This is a picture of her years ago. When I see this picture, and I see where she began, and I look at her now, and she's still going.
This picture is hung up in the kitchen, right by the serving area. It keeps me motivated because I have to see it all day.