Up and Comers furthers Foxtrot’s longstanding commitment to supporting local businesses by discovering the next best innovative and creative makers to bring to its communities.
To date, Foxtrot’s stores have acted as an incubator for small and local businesses by giving them the chance to test products on their shelves. Building off this approach, Up and Comers aims to help small business owners gain exposure for their product and provide them an opportunity for new business in a time where they may have trouble with distribution and getting off of the ground.
“Since Foxtrot’s inception, we’ve believed in filling our shelves with best-in-class products that we know our guests will love, many of which are from small businesses that have grown to be the heart of our stores,” said Mike LaVitola, CEO and co-founder of Foxtrot. “We are incredibly humbled and excited to now extend that opportunity to other brands across the country, and to increase our commitment to supporting small, local businesses with an emphasis on diversity of these makers. Through the awards program, our hope is that small business owners will gain the tools they need to take their operations to the next level, while also giving our customers new brands to discover.”
Through Jan. 10, 2021, business owners and makers are encouraged to apply to the Up and Comers Small Makers Awards for a chance to be sold in Foxtrot’s stores. Foxtrot currently operates eight stores in Chicago, Illinois and two in Dallas, Texas, with two forthcoming locations in Washington, D.C. next spring.
Judging will take place throughout January, with the winners announced in mid-February, who will altogether receive $100,000 in marketing support and cash rewards, and real estate on Foxtrot’s shelves for a minimum of three months.
LaVitola will serve as one of the judges who will be part of the process of selecting the finalists of the Up and Comers Small Makers Awards. Joining him will be a judging panel of industry veterans and some of the freshest voices guiding the future of food and beverage, including:
- Nilou Motamed, Founder of Story Collective and Judge on Bravo’s “Top Chef”
- Carla Lalli Music, Author of “Where Cooking Begins,” Host of “Carla’s Cooking Show,” and Editor-At-Large, Bon Appetit
- Brinda Ayer, Editorial Lead, Food52
- André Mack, Sommelier & Founder, Maison Noir Wines
- Steven Satterfied, Co-Founder, Whetstone Media
- Logan Langberg, Principal, Imaginary Ventures
- Jeni Britton Bauer, Founder, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (Chicago)
- Natalie Shmulik, CEO, The Hatchery Chicago (Chicago)
- Ed Marszewski, Owner, Marz Community Brewing Co. (Chicago)
- Susan O’Brien, Founder,Hail Merry Snacks (Dallas)
- Al Goldberg, Founder, MESS HALL (Washington, D.C.)
- Erik Bruner-Yang, Chef and Founder of The Power of 10 (Washington, D.C.)
“Small makers determine the future of food. It’s not a small role,” said Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and an Up and Comers judge. “They are filling the needs niche groups have — and some of those will become the next trend. And beyond that, it’s a matter of quality. There is no question as we look back over the last decade that small players have impacted quality and demand at bigger companies. Because people want what smaller makers are offering.”
Once finalists are chosen, the judges will select one overall Hero Winner, as well as winners in the categories of Ingredient Innovation, Best Branding/Packaging, and Just Damn Good. Fan Favorites will also be determined for products from the Chicago, Dallas and Washington, D.C. markets, which will be awarded to the local businesses that receive the most public votes on www.foxtrotco.com/upandcomers.
The Hero Winner, category winners and Fan Favorites of the Up and Comers Small Makers Awards will have their product carried in Foxtrot’s brick-and-mortar and online stores, and will receive marketing support starting at $8,000. Category winners will also receive a monetary reward of $5,000 to put into growing their business. The overall Hero Winner will receive the top prize of $25,000, mentorship by three of the program’s esteemed judges, and the opportunity to pitch their brand to Imaginary, the Venture Capital Fund that, in addition to Foxtrot, has invested in the future of such companies as Daily Harvest, Glossier, and HUM Nutrition, among others.