When Denise Woodard began rising her allergy-friendly cookie firm, Partake Foods, she had virtually 10 years of expertise working at Coca-Cola. However, she stated, that meals trade data didn’t open many doorways for her Black-owned enterprise

“Ladies, notably ladies of colour, are under-funded, and since I had no connection to the enterprise capital world, I knocked on numerous doorways [and] spent a great period of time sending LinkedIn messages to ask questions and request introductions,” Denise advised The FruitGuys by way of e mail. 

Denise didn’t quit: She kick-started her enterprise in 2016, promoting cookies to New York Metropolis grocery shops from her automotive. The thought that her cookies may assist youngsters with meals allergy symptoms — like her daughter, Vivienne — saved her going when issues obtained powerful. 

Her footwork paid off: In 2018, the southwest area of Complete Meals Market began promoting Partake’s cookies. As we speak, Partake presents allergy-friendly cookies, graham crackers, and breakfast mixes nationwide. 

The FruitGuys is that includes Partake and a fellow Black- and woman-owned model, Pipcorn, for Black History Month in February 2024. Their snacks shall be in each Thoughtful Snack Box, exposing them to hundreds of latest eaters. They’ll even be obtainable by the case for followers. 

Supporting Black-owned companies issues — not simply throughout Black Historical past Month, however daily of the yr — as a result of it’s a easy however efficient method to assist tackle a long-term disparity. 

The Black-Owned Enterprise Hole

In 2020, Black individuals made up 14.2% of the U.S. inhabitants, however they solely accounted for 2.4% of all business owners. The Brookings Institute experiences that if Black enterprise possession retains rising on the tempo it’s at present, it may take greater than 250 years for these percentages to align.

Fortunately, the historic hole is closing. The variety of Black-owned companies within the U.S. jumped 13.64% from 2017 to 2020. Total enterprise progress throughout that point was a lot slower, measuring simply .53%. 

By celebrating Partake and Pipcorn, The FruitGuys hopes to assist each companies proceed rising. Every firm has a singular mission and entrepreneurial story. Right here’s a fast have a look at what makes these two Black-owned companies so particular. 

Partake: Feeding Each Hungry Baby

As you’ve already learn, Denise Woodard based Partake together with her then 1-year-old daughter in thoughts. Vivienne is allergic to nuts, eggs, bananas, and corn, which makes the whole lot from birthday events to airport journeys a supply of stress for her and her mother. 

Photo: Partake founder with her daughter
Denise and her daughter, Vivienne.

“Vivi was my first baby, Partake was like my second,” Denise stated, including that her daughter is now 8 years outdated. “I’m so pleased with what she’s been capable of be part of. Not solely has she witnessed her mother develop an thought right into a liked model, however she’s seen that when you could have an awesome concept that meets an actual want, you’re employed onerous and with integrity, and also you encompass your self with nice individuals, then great issues can occur.”

Partake’s cookies seem like some other grab-and-go grocery retailer deal with — however they’re removed from atypical. Each field is licensed gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, Orthodox Union Kosher, and free from the highest 9 allergens. Their flavors vary from classics like Crunchy Chocolate Chip (Denise’s favourite) to seasonal delights like Smooth-Baked Chocolate Peppermint. 

That stated, Partake is about far more than cookies. The corporate is a Certified B Corp that believes in “radical inclusivity,” which Denise defines as “pushing for transformative modifications that create a really equitable and accessible society.” 

A part of that mission is preventing meals insecurity. Denise is each Black and Asian-American, and he or she’s enthusiastic about feeding each hungry baby, whether or not they’re combating allergy symptoms or financial disadvantages. 

About 1 in every 17 American children has a recognized meals allergy and almost 1 in 5 children stay in food-insecure households. Once you break these statistics down by race, Black youngsters are the most certainly to have a meals allergy and/or stay with either low or very low meals safety. Partake companions with organizations like #HashtagLunchbag, Eat. Learn. Play., and The Birthday Party Project to supply meals and sources to food-insecure youngsters and households.

Pipcorn: Tiny Corn Does Mighty Good

Pipcorn is a Black-owned enterprise on a mission to help heirloom crops and sustainable agriculture. The additional crunch and daring taste in Pipcorn’s snacks (together with miniature popcorn, cheese balls, “crunchies,” and twists) come from heirloom corn, which produces tiny chompable kernels. 

Founders of the Black-owned business Pipcorn
Left to proper: Pipcorn founders Teresa, Jen, and Jeff.

Two of Pipcorn’s co-founders, Jen and Jeff Martin, found the corn in 2012 when Jen introduced some house from the Chicago well being meals retailer the place she labored. On the finish of a protracted day of packing for a transfer, the siblings popped the corn and fell head-over-heels in love with it. They finally tracked it again to its supply — an Indiana farmer with a stash of heirloom seeds — and based Pipcorn to share it with the world. 

Jen and Jeff teamed up with Jeff’s spouse, Teresa Tsou, to create a thriving Black-, AAPI-, and LGBTQ-owned firm that prioritizes sustainability. Greater than a decade later, Pipcorn nonetheless sources eco-friendly, open-pollinated heirloom corn from household farmers. 

Photo: Pipcorn products“Open pollination is essential as a result of it retains our crops genetically numerous,” the Pipcorn workforce explains on their web site. “Over many generations, open-pollinated seeds adapt to native climates and rising situations, strengthening the resiliency of the genetic line. Rising open-pollinated crops additionally retains us from dropping distinctive varieties ­­— like our mini heirloom popcorn! — at a time when our agricultural biodiversity is shrinking.”

On high of their environmental advantages, Pipcorn’s heirloom corn packs extra fiber and antioxidants than typical corn right into a smaller bundle. The corporate’s snacks are non-GMO, gluten-free, and offered in enjoyable flavors like white cheddar and cinnamon sugar. 

Black Entrepreneurs Pay It Ahead

Along with preventing meals insecurity, preserving heirlooms, and pushing for a extra sustainable future, Pipcorn and Partake additionally pay their success ahead by giving fellow Black entrepreneurs a leg up. 

Every month, Pipcorn spotlights a unique Black enterprise proprietor on its blog and social media pages “to amplify consciousness for Black-founded manufacturers.” They’ve featured Delisa and Zach Harper of Funky Mello, Ibraheem Basir of A Dozen Cousins, Lilian Umurungi-Jung of MUMGRY, and extra.

In the meantime, Partake launched an annual fellowship program referred to as Black Futures Fellowship to additional the careers of lively traditionally Black school or college (HBCU) college students.

“I based Black Futures Fellowship, now a 501(c)(3), in 2020 once I was constructing out the Partake workforce and located the applicant pool lacked variety,” Denise stated. “Considering again to my very own profession, to this point, I spotted that in lots of rooms I used to be usually the one girl — notably the one girl of colour.”

Denise had a breakthrough thought: “If I can educate, encourage, and provides college students the alternatives in CPG (shopper packaged items) meals and beverage, maybe over time the range of the trade can extra immediately signify the individuals it serves.” 

Black Futures Fellowship matches lively HBCU college students with paid internships at CPG meals and beverage corporations, and to this point, they’ve positioned 20 fellows.

How You Can Rejoice Black Historical past Month

You possibly can help Pipcorn and Partake by making an attempt their scrumptious merchandise. Rejoice Black Historical past Month this February with their mouth-watering cookies, graham crackers, cheese balls, and cinnamon twists!

When you already get The FruitGuys’ Considerate Snack Packing containers, maintain an eye fixed out for Pipcorn and/or Partake’s merchandise in your containers every week of February 2024. It’s also possible to buy their merchandise by the case to indicate your help.

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