Plano, TX — Frito-Lay North America’s Stacy’s Pita Chips brand is continuing its commitment to supporting female founders by partnering with Oscar winning actress and producer Reese Witherspoon and the media company she founded, Hello Sunshine, to spotlight the 10 winners of the 2021 Stacy’s Rise Project. Stacy’s is also amplifying founders by launching FoundedByHer.org, an online business directory featuring female founders from across the U.S.
The Stacy’s Rise Project, a grant and mentorship program to help women grow their businesses, recently revealed 10 winners who will each receive a $10,000 grant, mentoring from Frito-Lay and PepsiCo leadership, and the opportunity to participate in a speaker series featuring Frito-Lay leadership and notable founders.
“I truly believe that when one woman rises, we all rise, and that is why my team at Hello Sunshine and I partnered with Stacy’s, beginning with the 2021 Stacy’s Rise Project,” says Witherspoon. “This partnership and project are so important because it not only provides essential funding, but also provides unmatched support through mentorship and connections to help female founders take their business to the next level.”
To better understand the unique challenges and opportunities female founders face, Stacy’s commissioned a survey among 500 U.S. female entrepreneurs, defined as those who are currently or plan to own a business with the intent of making a profit.
One of the key findings was that unconscious bias, defined as “prejudice” or “social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness,” proves a hurdle in female entrepreneur’s business journeys. Notably, of the 500 respondents, more than one third (34 percent) reported they frequently experience unconscious bias from other people, and 76 percent said they have encountered challenges their male counterparts have not. When it comes to having a support system, the survey reinforced the importance of having female leaders and mentors, with more than 45 percent of respondents saying it was very important.
“As we continue to champion the Stacy’s Rise Project and founders across the U.S., we’re overjoyed to partner with Hello Sunshine and Reese Witherspoon, whose dedication to empowering female entrepreneurs is inspirational and perfectly aligned with Stacy’s legacy of supporting these women,” says Ciara Dilley, Frito-Lay vice-president of marketing. “This is just the beginning of Stacy’s work with Hello Sunshine and Reese to spotlight remarkable founders and continue to build up a community of empowered and supported women.”
The Stacy’s Rise Project Class of 2021
- Sara Fludd, St. Petersburg, FL, who founded Pop Goes the Waffle, an innovative waffle company dedicated to authentic liege waffle via retail, wholesale and eCommerce.
- Samotria Holmes, Simpsonville, SC, who founded Holmes Sweet Home, a specialty food producer that is hyper focused on ingredient quality and supporting our local economy.
- Marsha Stephanson, Pflugerville, TX, who founded Cater to Mom, a monthly postpartum self-care subscription for new and seasoned moms.
- Sue Kakuk, Minneapolis, who founded Kakookies, delicious grab-n-go cookies made with real food ingredients and plant-based protein providing the nutrition of energy bar with the deliciousness and comfort of a cookie making them an ideal snack for travelers, outdoor enthusiasts, and busy families.
- Jocelyn Ramirez, Los Angeles, who founded Todo Verde, a plant-based Mexican food business based out of East Los Angeles that is creating culturally relevant dishes.
- Adrienne Walker, Capitol Heights, MD, who founded BlueHenry LLC, a manufacturer of quality all-natural beverage garnishes. They produce dehydrated fruit, simple syrups and rimming salts and sugars that are predominantly used to amplify craft cocktails.
- Amber Balakian, Reedley, CA, who founded Balakian Farms, a manufacturer of fruit and vegetable CPG products. They currently produce Organic Blended Heirloom Tomatoes.
- Alberta Liao, Millbrae, CA, who founded Jinka, the first vegan tuna spread product in the refrigerated section with a goal to provide a clean, healthy, sustainable, and delicious tuna alternative to people who are looking to incorporate more plant-based foods in their life.
- Julie Butcher, Estero, FL, who founded The Vegan Knife, a company that offers a line of allergy friendly and vegan cupcake/cakes and donut mixes. Specifically, all of their baking mixes are gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, nut free, and vegan.
- Sajani Amarasiri, San Francisco, who founded Kola Goodies Inc., which makes botanical-rich, yummy, easy, superfood latte blends to boost your energy, mood, immunity, and well-being. Made with ingredients sourced directly from South Asian farmer collectives.