Foxtrot, the modern corner store redefining the convenience experience through community-driven values and data-backed consumer insights, recently announced the launch of their second annual “Up & Comers“ awards for female food entrepreneurs. Up & Comers is an initiative that celebrates small makers and aims to discover the next generation of leading food and beverage brands. In honor of International Women’s Day and Foxtrot’s commitment to increasing the amount of female-founded or led brands on their shelves by 50 percent in the next year, this year’s awards program brings a dedicated focus to finding, inspiring, nurturing and recognizing female and femme-identifying food entrepreneurs.
Founded in 2014, Foxtrot aims to modernize the nostalgic corner store experience by creating a digital-first e-commerce platform paired with a beautiful retail experience that fulfills daily needs with the most delicious local purveyors alongside new, trending brands from around the world. Fifty new stores plan to open in the next two years. Foxtrot has continuously acted as an incubator for small and local businesses. It has given these businesses the chance to test products on their shelves. Building off this approach, this year’s Up & Comers aims to help women-led small businesses gain exposure by showcasing winners in-store and online.
Highlighting the struggles of female food entrepreneurs
With this initiative, Foxtrot hopes to shine a light on the unique needs of women who own their own small businesses. Women own 31 percent of all small businesses or franchises in the U.S. Unfortunately, 66 percent of entrepreneurial women still report significant challenges in securing the funding they need. Foxtrot offers exposure on-shelf, in addition to capital to support women’s businesses. Foxtrot aims to drive a larger narrative on the responsibility of the industry to uplift women, especially due to the fact that female-founded and co-founded startups have a higher success rate, according to leading research.
When the company debuted Up & Comers in 2021, only 10 percent of applicants were women. However, women accounted for half of the award finalists. This raised Foxtrot’s antenna that they needed to do more to uplift this community. Foxtrot currently carries over 100 women-owned brands, which includes over 450 total SKUs. As the brand casts a spotlight on female founders, they’ve announced the commitment to increase this number of brands by 50 percent in the next year, as part of their continued mission to make their shelves more reflective of the communities and customers they serve.
Celebrating food pioneers
Launched in 2021, Up & Comers sought to find makers ready to take the next big step in entrepreneurship. It has empowered over 900 local businesses and emerging food entrepreneurs to submit. As a result, 35 new brands joined Foxtrot’s shelves, including game-changing small makers such as Omsom, Mumgry, Ruby, DEUX and local cult favorites like Mott St. and Momo Shack Dumplings. All of these brands continue to lead their respective categories.
“Our Up & Comers program embodies what we do at Foxtrot every day — discovering small makers who are just as passionate about food as we are, and bringing their delicious and best-in-class products to our customers to enjoy,” said Carla Dunham, Chief Marketing Officer at Foxtrot. “We’re committed to making our shelves reflect the customers we serve and continuing to support small makers everywhere. Up & Comers is designed to open the door for countless entrepreneurs, and specifically women and BIPOC-founded brands, who don’t have access to the resources to grow their business. We’re excited about the growth we have ahead as a company and we want to use our momentum to support these talented makers.”
Through April 4, 2022, owners and makers are encouraged to apply to the Up & Comers Awards. When they apply, they will have a chance to be sold in Foxtrot stores and nationally via Foxtrot Anywhere. Given the inclusive nature of this program, submissions from all genders will be accepted. However, two prizes – the Hero Winner and Cherry Bombe’s Women in Food Award – are reserved for women-led businesses. In addition to in-store and online retail, Foxtrot is committed to donating $200,000 in funding and marketing support to winners. The company will feature winning brands on shelves for at least one business quarter.
This year’s outstanding food entrepreneurs
Foxtrot has gathered a dynamic group of female founders and tastemakers disrupting the food space to review submissions, taste test products and ultimately vote to determine the winners:
- Samah Dada –Cookbook Author & Food Influencer
- Kerry Diamond – Founder, Cherry Bombe
- Summer Johnson – Co-Founder, Zach & Zoe Honey
- Sana Javeri Kadri – Founder, Diaspora Co.
- Kristen Kish – Cookbook Author & Chef, Arlo Grey
- Marguerite Zabar Mariscal – CEO, Momofuku
- Melanie Masarin – Founder, Ghia
- Alexis Nelson – Founder, Black Forager
- Vanessa Pham – Founder, Omsom
- Sicily Sierra –Chef & Entrepreneur
- Christina Tosi – Founder, Milk Bar
- Elly Truesdell – Founder & Managing Partner, New Fare
“Milk Bar has proudly appeared on Foxtrot shelves since our launch in grocery in 2020, and I am so excited to join forces with them to shine a light on talented women in the food and beverage industry,” said Christina Tosi, Founder and CEO of Milk Bar. “I’m honored to lend my POV and support to this year’s contest alongside an incredible group of changemakers and look forward to getting to know even more talented female founders and entrepreneurs.”
There will be six total winners. All will be sold at Foxtrot for at least one business quarter, breaking down to one Hero Winner and five Category Winners:
- Ingredient Innovation
- Cherry Bombe’s Women in Food Award
- Just Damn Good
- Classic Product Reimagined
- Fan Favorite (voted on via Foxtrot’s website)
The Hero Winner will also receive $25,000 for their business, along with $45,000 in marketing support. They will additionally receive a mentorship session with three judges. Category Winners will receive $5,000 of business support and $20,000 in marketing support.
New this year, Foxtrot will bring Up & Comers to life through events in three markets: Chicago, Austin and Washington, DC. The markets will invite local foodies to interact with a panel of female powerhouses to discuss working as women in food. Kerry Diamond (Founder, Cherry Bombe), Carla Dunham (CMO, Foxtrot) and Ashley Alden (VP of Merchandising, Foxtrot) will host and moderate. Panelists will include local entrepreneurial women in the food industry in addition to established national brand leaders.
Given the inclusive nature of this program, Foxtrot will accept submissions from all genders. To learn more about how to submit for Up & Comers and attend local events, visit www.foxtrotco.com/upandcomers.
Foxtrot is redefining convenience for the modern consumer. It is marrying the best of neighborhood retail and e-commerce technology to create a community of discovery. Its spaces offer all the most loved aspects of neighborhood cafes. You can turn to the Foxtrot app for 30-minute delivery and 5-minute pick up of a city’s best goods from local beers and fine wines to chef-prepared meals, curated gifts and everyday essentials. Foxtrot also offers a collection of curated goods and gift boxes available nationwide via its national shipping site.
There are currently 18 Foxtrot locations across Chicago, D.C. and Dallas. There are plans to continue expansion in both existing and new markets. For more information, visit foxtrotco.com or download in the App Store.