Meet the Women Behind Eight American Food Brands
It's no secret that we love supporting women-owned companies. Given our own founder's success as an entrepreneur and businesswoman, we're always on the lookout for new creators and business-savvy women who are carving their path in various industries. Building on our long-standing American Made franchise, we're taking some time to celebrate a few of our favorite women-owned American food brands. Within the food and beverage world, there are female pioneers creating everything from hard seltzer and tequila to snacks and spices.
Every woman here has a different journey. Some, like Press Seltzer founder Amy Walberg, Simple Mills' Katlin Smith, and the co-founders of Coolhaus Ice Cream Natasha Case and Freya Estreller, were working in unrelated industries before finding their passion for food and starting their own businesses. Others, like Elizabeth Stein of Purely Elizabeth, were already on a clear path. Stein was a nutrition counselor and began experimenting with ancient grain snacks after noticing that the recommendations she was making for her clients weren't readily available in most major markets. And it worked. In 2017, Purely Elizabeth received a $3 million investment from General Mills. Sheetal Bhagat is also no stranger to the food world. She competed on the first season of FOX's MasterChef in 2010 before launching her business, Spice Note Tequila, in 2017.
Here, we're introducing you to eight women that have a similar admirable work ethic, fun spirit, and innovative vision to Martha. So, join us in embracing these women and their hunger for success. (It doesn't hurt that their products are delicious, too!).
Sheetal Bhagat, Spice Note Tequila
Former MasterChef contestant Sheetal Bhagat paired her love of cocktails with her culinary heritage when she came up with the idea for Spice Note Tequila. Rather than mix spices into a cocktail, which can result in an unpleasant texture, Bhagat sought to create a tequila that "infused the earthy sweet agave spirit with bold, complex spices." Her 2017 startup now offers two premium infused tequilas, cumin and cinnamon, made with all-natural ingredients.
Alyza Bohbot, City Girl Coffee Co.
In many coffee-growing countries, women are still not allowed to own land or secure loans, despite making up nearly 65 percent of the labor on coffee farms. After City Girl Coffee Co. owner Alyzea Bohbot learned about these staggering facts, she made it her mission to support these women and educate others about the inequality. Bohbot works closely with organizations including the International Women's Coffee Alliance and Café Femenino, a program designed to stop the mistreatment and poverty affecting women coffee bean farmers across the globe. She also sources as much coffee as possible from women-owned or -managed farms.
Natasha Case, Coolhaus
Though she worked in the hospitality industry, it wasn't until Natasha Case started combining homemade cookies with ice cream that she discovered her calling. Case founded Coolhaus Ice Cream with her wife Freya Estreller and the two sold their unconventional ice cream creations, like Milkshake & Fries and Buttered French Toast, from an old postal van. Their ice creams are made with hormone-free dairy products, cage-free eggs, organic sugar, fair-trade chocolate, and local ingredients whenever possible. Now, ten years after they started the business, Coolhaus is sold in over 7,500 grocery stores across the country.
Angel Anderson, The Spice Suite Spice Bar
Passing a "For Lease" sign on a building in the Takoma neighborhood of Washington, D.C., Angel Anderson saw it as an opportunity to launch a business and pursue her passion for food full-time. The former assistant school principal opened The SpiceSuite using the building as a retail storefront for her spice business, which also offers curated monthly spice boxes online. She shares her space with other black small business owners providing a platform for experimentation and creativity. "Community and service are my life," Anderson explains. Her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs; "Start now and perfect later."
Elizabeth Stein, Purely Elizabeth
As a certified holistic nutrition counselor, Elizabeth Stein was making healthy dietary recommendations day in and day out. After realizing that the products she was recommending weren't readily available, Stein set out to create them herself. Purely Elizabeth is an all-natural and organic food company known for its grain-free granola. Stein explains, "My intention was to help people thrive on their wellness journey and I strive to provide foods that are delicious, accessible and work to support health and wellness."
KaiYen Mai, Fusion Jerky
An "adventurous spirit," KaiYen Mai has hiked everywhere from Machu Picchu to Kilimanjaro and eaten a lot of jerky and protein bars along the way. She felt she could create something that was healthier and better tasting, thus Fusion Jerky was born. It's a Taiwanese-style soft jerky that marries Eastern and Western cuisine, and it's full of flavor. On being a female entrepreneur, Mai says, "It takes dedication, perseverance, and hard work. You will face additional adversity, but it doesn't mean you can't achieve your goals."
Katlin Smith, Simple Mills
Simple Mills' founder Katlin Smith aims to positively influence Americans' eating habits by making food that not only tastes great but also nourishes the body. The company's products—which include baking mixes, crackers, and frosting—are all free from artificial ingredients and most can be prepared vegan. She encourages other aspiring women entrepreneurs to be proactive and surround themselves with the right type of people. "Find mentors, take time on your own to learn and read, and assemble a team that shares your vision."
Amy Walberg, PRESS Seltzer
"We're the 'it' seltzer that no one knows about yet," laughs founder Amy Walberg. What started as a experiment in her kitchen has become a fully-fledged business. PRESS Seltzer officially launched in 2015 and is still the only woman-owned business in a male-dominated field, says Walberg. Women are the main buyers of hard seltzer and "we have so much to offer in this space," she adds.