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Since 1971, August 26 has marked Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. The observance also serves as a reminder of the continued work toward full gender equality.
Despite some gains over the last several years, women remain dramatically underrepresented in corporate America. According to the 2022 Women in the Workplace study, an annual report launched by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company in 2015 to give companies insights and tools to advance gender diversity in the workplace, only one in four C-suite leaders is a woman across industries. The food and beverage industry lags behind the average, with women accounting for only one in five C-suite leaders.
So, at Bolt PR, we set out to recognize the women who are leading the way in food and beverage. From breakthrough startup founders to industry powerhouses who have been breaking barriers for decades, these women are on similar missions to innovate the industry, honor the women who came before them, and create opportunities and forge a better path for the next generation of women leaders. Meet the women who are defining the future of the F&B industry:
What if you could drop a bomb in your blender and get all the nutrients you need? Helen Hall Leland, Founder and Chairman of The Bomb Co., is making that possible. Her company makes whole food smoothie boosters containing over 50 vitamins, minerals and whole-food nutrients, including all nine essential amino acids, with options designed to boost gut health, antioxidants, mood, energy or immunity. If you’re unsure where to start, visit The Bomb Co. website and take a five minute quiz to find out which blender bomb is best for your nutritional needs and taste buds. For superfood fuel on the go, try Bomb Bars with options such as Protein Cookies 'N Cream for an energy boost or Peanut Butter Cookie Dough for a gut health boost. In just six years since the company’s start in 2017, the community has made over 6 million Blender Bomb smoothies. We’ll raise a smoothie glass to that!
Trust us, you don’t want to sleep on this fresh take on Modern Mexican cuisine from a pair of James Beard Award and Julia Child Award-winning chefs. In 1985, inspired by the home kitchens and street foods of Mexico, chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken opened their first Border Grill as a small, forty seat “taco stand” in California. Since then, they have evolved the brand to multiple Border Grill restaurants and food trucks, and added spin-offs including the quick service BBQ Mexicana and Pacha Mamas in Las Vegas, the California canteen and Mexican pub Socalo in Santa Monica, and a new restaurant Alice B. debuting soon in Palm Springs. Committed to sustainability and conscientiously sourced, seasonal fare, the duo joined other industry progressives to start Chefs Collaborative, a national nonprofit that engages chefs to build a better food system by inspiring and educating them to change how they source, cook, and serve food. Feniger and Milliken also work closely with Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, which promotes the advancement and education of female chefs while helping them build a network of peers across the culinary world.
Since the 2010 opening of her flagship Girl & The Goat restaurant on Chicago’s famed Restaurant Row in the West Loop, Chef and Owner Stephanie Izard has been committed to serving bold, global flavors to local residents and visitors alike. Drawn to the fresh California produce and local flavors, Chef Izard opened a second restaurant in LA in 2021. And IYKYK, there’s just something about the green beans, which served as inspiration for Chef’s next venture. Even as a professional chef, she’s also a working mom struggling to find time to prepare at home the exciting, flavorful foods she creates in her restaurants. So Chef launched This Little Goat, a collection of sauces, spices and crunches to use at home. That’s right, she’s sharing her secret sauce, and more. Visit the This Little Goat website to find inspired - and inspiring - recipes from Chef Izard’s kitchen to yours.
James Beard Award-winning ice cream maker Jeni Britton has set the new standard for our favorite frozen treat. It started back in 2002 at the North Market, a centuries-old public market in Columbus, Ohio, where Jeni started selling her scratch-made ice cream. Since then, she has grown her brand to more than 65 scoop shops nationwide, an online shop that ships to all 50 states, and distribution in top grocery stores across the country. With recipes made from scratch using Fair and Direct Trade chocolate, vanilla, and coffee, along with super fresh milk from family dairy farms, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is a Certified B Corporation, recognized for social, environmental and business leadership. Featuring an ultra-smooth buttercream-like body and one-of-a-kind signature flavors including Salty Caramel, Wildberry Lavender, and Brambleberry Crisp, it’s hard to resist the new standard.
Since March 2020, this 100% woman-owned craft distillery has been presenting unique takes on classic expressions of vodka, gins, rums and whiskies that are rich with storytelling and history. With inspiration from the Great Seal of the State of North Carolina, the distillery’s name embodies the foundational values of liberty, representing aspiration, and plenty, representing abundance. A lifelong wine and spirits professional, Owner and Distiller Tina Williford is committed to the art of distillation and blending of spirits in small batches made from materials that are carefully selected for quality, freshness, flavor and origin. If you’re visiting Durham, North Carolina, stop by the Liberty & Plenty Distillery and cocktail bar located in the Central Park district, and keep your eyes peeled for expansions into the Wendell and Wilson communities later this year.
For Mason Dixie Founder and CEO Ayeshah Abuelhiga, everything starts with a homemade recipe. A first-generation American who proudly watched her immigrant parents serve quality comfort food at their small carry-out restaurant and convenience store, Ayeshah started Mason Dixie in 2014 when she couldn’t find the same food she grew up on. So she left her corporate job and started baking biscuits, changing comfort food for the better - better quality, better ingredients, and better value. Using only handpicked, simple ingredients we all recognize, like butter, buttermilk, and eggs, Mason Dixie biscuits are handmade from scratch and then frozen to lock in all the goodness without any additives or preservatives. It seems we all have been craving a real homemade biscuit, as Mason Dixie took spot 638 on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America in 2023. Today the products can be found in retailers across the country, including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Central Market, Costco, Target, and others. From original and cheddar biscuits and sausage and egg biscuit sandwiches, to the recently introduced Liege waffles and Liege waffle sandwiches with chicken sausage, get ready to enjoy some home baked happiness.
Growing up on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean, one in Monterey, California, and one in Marlborough, New Zealand, sisters Robin McBride and Andréa McBride John didn’t know about each other until they met as teenagers. Having been raised in two of the world’s most iconic wine-growing regions, they soon discovered a shared passion for wine. In an industry historically defined by tradition and gender, the sisters set out to chart their own path, launching and growing McBride Sisters into the largest Black-owned wine company in the United States. Robin and Andréa have been clear on their mission from day one: transform the industry, lead by example, and cultivate community, one delicious glass of wine at a time. Inspired by the endless pursuit of all women who are breaking barriers every day, the sisters launched the SHE CAN canned wine collection and SHE CAN Professional Development Fund to promote the advancement of women in the wine industry to help close the gender and race gap. As a personal ode to their culture and story, Robin and Andréa also launched the Black Girl Magic collection to reflect the magic and resilience of Black women. Inspired by their incredible story and fierce leadership, we wholeheartedly accept the McBride Sisters' invitation to break the rules and drink the wine.
Combining their 60 years of industry experience, founder Marsha Milam, whiskey expert and Master Blender Heather Greene, and Kentucky veteran Master Distiller Marlene Holmes united to create the award-winning Milam & Greene craft whiskey. Blending the best ingredients and their proprietary yeast recipe, Milam & Greene Whiskey is known for its robust aromas and flavors. The results have been award-winning, including multiple gold, double gold, and platinum awards from spirits competitions, the People’s Choice Award at The Texas Whiskey Festival, and Best in Show out of 550 entrants at The American Craft Spirits Association. But the Milam & Greene team isn’t resting on their laurels; earlier this year, they completed a multimillion-dollar expansion of the distillery, including a new 1,000-gallon Vendome copper pot still, increasing production to more than 1,000 barrels annually. Visit the website to order online or find a retailer near you. If you find yourself in the Texas Hill Country, stop by the family-friendly and dog-friendly distillery and tasting room on the outskirts of Blanco, where you might also find a food truck and live music. We’ll toast to that!
Founded in 2008 by James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Christina Tosi, Milk Bar believes in “the transformative power of a really freakin’ good cookie or an outstanding piece of cake.” We second that, along with the belief that” no occasion is a perfectly valid occasion to celebrate yourself or someone else.” With next-day delivery available across the U.S., we’re loading up our cart with the award-winning classic Birthday Cake, fan-favorite B’Day Cake Truffles, and the signature gooey Milk Bar Pie with a sticky, buttery, salty-sweet filling in a hearty oat cookie crust. Whether you’re looking for cakes, cookies, pies, cake truffles, or gluten-free options too, visit the website for Milk Bar locations and special treats in grocery stores nationwide. Now, let’s celebrate!
Are you ready for a party in a can? Founder and CEO Kristina Roth launched MIXOLOSHE to offer a non-alcoholic cocktail alternative to enjoy by the pool, on the beach, or wherever the party takes you. With only five ingredients and 50 calories per can, these drinks are high in flavor, low in calories, and skip the sugar and fake ingredients found in other non-alcoholic alternatives. With flavors including the classic Orange Old Fashioned, Blueberry G&T, Tropical Smoky Margarita and more, choose your favorite or grab a variety pack to try them all. If you prefer to mix your own, check out the award-winning non-alcoholic bottles of tequila, gin, and whiskey. Once you try MIXOLOSHE you’ll agree - these aren’t mocktails, these are anything but fake.
Nuts For Cheese Founder and CEO Margaret Coons is on a mission to create delicious, 100% dairy-free and vegan cheese for cheese lovers everywhere. Born in 2015 at a farmer’s market in London, Ontario, Nuts For Cheese has expanded to include vegan butter and new cream cheese style spreads, in addition to original wedges in a variety of flavors, including Un-Brie-Lievable™, sharp cheddar, smoky gouda, artichoke and herb, and more. These delicious, cashew-based vegan cheeses and butters slice, spread, melt, and shred in all of your favorite recipes. Head to the Nuts For Cheese website for some recipe inspiration, such as Dairy-Free Strawberry Cheesecake and Cheesy Black Garlic Dip. Find your favorite flavors in grocery stores across Canada and the U.S., including Sprouts, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, and Whole Foods, and through online retail partners. Handcrafted, aged to perfection and 100% dairy free. It’s official, we’re Nuts For Cheese.
With a growing emphasis on healthier dietary choices and concerns about the environmental impact of traditional food production, the vegan cookie market has been quietly growing and is expected to approach $1 billion over the next decade. Among the leaders is Denise Woodard, who founded Partake Foods in 2016 to offer delicious, allergy-friendly foods that those with and without food restrictions could enjoy and share with confidence. The inspiration is her daughter, who was diagnosed at a young age with multiple food allergies. All Partake products, including cookies, graham crackers, and pancake and waffle mixes, are certified gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan and free from the top 9 allergens. Recognizing that 1 in 13 children across the country is affected by food allergies, Denise partners with organizations like No Kid Hungry to provide access to allergy-friendly food, education and advocacy for food-insecure families. As a Black and Asian American woman, Denise is also passionate about increasing opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs and people seeking careers in the food and beverage industry. In 2020, Denise founded Black Futures in Food & Beverage, an annual fellowship program that mentors HBCU students, helping them secure internships and jobs in the industry. With treats that taste good and do good, now we just have to decide among the crunchy chocolate chip, soft baked cookie butter, soft baked lemon, and many other delicious cookie flavors!
For co-founders Cristina Ros Blankfein and Jennifer Ross, finding a zero sugar drink that actually tasted good was a personal mission. As a Type 1 diabetic, Jen was disappointed in the lack of beverage options. So she partnered with Cristina to launch Swoon, offering a new zero-sugar take on old favorites, including the lemonades and iced teas you grew up with. The goal: change the idea that zero sugar means flavorless, or that living a healthy lifestyle means missing out entirely. Now available on the website, Amazon, and in retailers including Target and Whole Foods, when you buy a case a Swoon, the company donates one can to a family in need, partnering with nonprofit Wellfare and their first-of-its-kind Better Box program that improves access to convenient nutrition for food-insecure families. So when you enjoy the great taste of Swoon, you’ll be helping others, too.
Founded on the idea that alcohol should always taste good and be better for you, Katie Shields launched Tipsy Spritzers to offer low calorie and low sugar organic wine and spirits spritzers in a can. Made with clean wine, sparkling water, and fresh, organic fruit and vegetable juices, you get to enjoy the good stuff while leaving out the bad stuff like preservatives. With flavors including Refreshing Grapefruit, Tangy Blackberry, Sun-Kissed Orange, and Crisp Limonata, we’ll drink to the good stuff! Even better, we can do good at the same time. Tipsy Spritzers believes in giving back and donates 1% of annual sales to organizations that fight human trafficking.
Inspired by her family’s more than 100 years of New York deli history, Jenny Goldfarb started Unreal Deli while looking for a safe, vegan alternative to cold deli meat during her pregnancy. She created a plant-based Unreal Corn’d Beef from her tiny home kitchen that captured the classic deli flavors she was craving. The taste won over “Shark” Mark Cuban in 2019, and Unreal Deli has since expanded to include Unreal Steak Slices and Unreal Roasted Turk’y, and can now be found in over 3,000 retail outlets in the U.S. including Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market, Ralphs, Albertsons, and Publix, as well as hundreds of restaurants and food service outlets nationwide. But Mrs. Goldfarb isn’t stopping there - we hear there’s a fourth product launching this year (chatter at the deli counter suggests Unreal Bacon!) and new distribution in Walmart and across college campuses. Is anyone else suddenly hungry?
As they work toward gender equality in the food and beverage industry, these women are leading the way through product innovation and creating opportunities for the next generation of industry leaders. But our list is just a start, as many more women-led F&B brands should be recognized for their tireless hustle to break barriers and define the future of the industry. Let’s celebrate them all, through our purchases, our encouragement, and our advocacy.
If you’re interested in seeing your name on a list of leading brands and reaching your audiences with stories about your products and mission, contact our food and beverage PR and marketing team to see what we can accomplish together. Let’s raise awareness for the brands and leaders who are driven by purpose and won’t settle for the status quo.