When Foxtrot’s chief marketing officer, Carla Dunham, launched the retailer’s Up & Comers program for emerging brands last year, she didn’t know what to expect. She shares, “We were blown away by the interest. We had 900 applications. But we were also shocked to find that only 10% of participants were women. »
According to the National Women’s Business Council, women hold more than 40% American companies. During the pandemic, women-led businesses have been disproportionately affected. In a recent report Facebook reported that only 75% of female-led SMBs were still operational, compared to 83% of male-led SMBs. And the The World Bank reported that female-led hotel businesses reported a 68% year-on-year drop in sales in 2021, with higher financial risk and less cash than their male counterparts.
Foxtrot aims to counter these tendencies. They are partnering with Cherry Bombe, a media company focused on women in food and beverage, in the second annual Up & Comers program. This year’s goal is for at least 50% of candidates to be led by women. And their star-studded jury includes Milk Bar founder and Netflix Bake Squad host Christina Tosi, and Tik Tok influencer. Alexis Nikolwhich has more than 3 million followers on the platform.
One of the biggest challenges for women in the food and beverage sector is securing the financing needed to grow their business. Less than 2% of all venture capital funding went to women in 2021, down from previous years; in 2019 61% of women said they are self-funded their businesses.
Kerry Diamond, the founder of Cherry Bombe, confirms this trend. She surveyed the Cherry Bombe network of 1,500 members and found that “70% [of Cherry Bombe members] started their own businesses. And do you know what that means? That means they put it on their credit cards, they broke their 401k, they emptied their bank accounts; you know, they did things you’re not supposed to do.
Winners of the Up & Comers program will receive a cash prize and investor exposure. They will also benefit from distribution in Foxtrot’s retail stores and online store, marketing support and business commentary in critical areas such as pricing.
Last year’s “Hero Winner” was Omsom, a food brand led by Asian Americans. They are currently available in all Foxtrot stores. CEO Vanessa Pham will be part of the Up & Comers jury this year.
The Up & Comers program is not a charitable effort – it supports Foxtrot’s own business goals. Dunham explains, “We currently have 100 women-owned brands on our shelves and we hope to achieve 50% penetration, that’s really our goal here.” In 2021, there were five Up & Comer winners; more than 35 of the brands that applied to the program ended up on the shelves.
Diamond sees the program as viable for women-led businesses. She shares, “I think it’s great that Foxtrot is making the call for women-led businesses. Foxtrot really puts its money where its heart is to help take these brands to the next level. »
The Up & Comers program is accepting applications until April 4, 2022.