Foxtrot, a modern corner store aiming to redefine the convenience experience through community-driven values and data-backed consumer insights, launched its second annual "Up & Comers" awards, an initiative designed to celebrate small makers and discover the next generation of leading food and beverage brands. In honor of International Women's Day and Foxtrot's commitment to increasing the amount of female founded or led brands on their shelves by 50% in the next year, this year's awards program brings a dedicated focus to finding, inspiring, nurturing and recognizing female and femme-identifying food entrepreneurs. 

Founded in 2014, Foxtrot was created to modernize the nostalgic corner store experience by creating a digital-first ecommerce platform paired with a beautiful retail experience that fulfills daily needs with local purveyors alongside new, trending brands from around the world. As the company continues to grow with 50 new stores planned to open in the next two years, Foxtrot has acted as an incubator for small and local businesses by giving them the chance to test products on their shelves. Building off this approach, this year's Up & Comers aims to help women-led small businesses gain exposure by showcasing winners in-store and online.

With this initiative, Foxtrot hopes to shine a light on the unique needs of women who own their own small business, which accounts for 31% of all small businesses or franchises in the US. Unfortunately, 66% of entrepreneurial women still report significant challenges in securing the funding they need. By offering exposure on-shelf, in addition to capital to support their businesses, Foxtrot aims to drive a larger narrative on the responsibility of the industry to uplift women, especially due to the fact that female-founded and co-founded startups have a higher success rate according to leading research.

When the company debuted Up & Comers in 2021, only 10% of applicants were women, but accounted for half of award finalists, raising Foxtrot's antenna that they needed to do more to uplift this community. Foxtrot currently carries over 100 women-owned brands, which includes over 450 total SKUs. As the brand casts a spotlight on female founders, they've announced the commitment to increase this number of brands by 50% in the next year, as part of their continued mission to make their shelves more reflective of the communities and customers they serve.

Launched in 2021, Up & Comers sought to find makers ready to take the next big step in entrepreneurship, and empowered over 900 local businesses and emerging food entrepreneurs to submit. As a result, 35 new brands joined Foxtrot's shelves including game-changing small makers such as Omsom, Mumgry, Ruby, DEUX and local cult favorites like Mott St. and Momo Shack Dumplings, all of which continue to lead their respective categories.

Today through April 4, 2022, owners and makers are encouraged to apply to the Up & Comers Awards for a chance to be sold in Foxtrot stores and nationally via Foxtrot Anywhere. Given the inclusive nature of this program, submissions from all genders will be accepted, though two prizes – the Hero Winner and Cherry Bombe's Women in Food Award – are reserved for women-led businesses. In addition to in-store and online retail, Foxtrot is committed to donating $200,000 in funding and marketing support to winners and will feature winning brands on-shelves for at least one business quarter.

Foxtrot has gathered a dynamic group of female founders and tastemakers disrupting the food space to review submissions, taste test products and ultimately vote to determine the winners:

- Samah Dada -Cookbook Author & Food Influencer
Kerry Diamond - Founder,Cherry Bombe
Summer Johnson - Co-Founder,Zach & Zoe Honey
Sana Javeri Kadri - Founder,Diaspora Co.
Kristen Kish - Cookbook Author & Chef,Arlo Grey
Marguerite Zabar Mariscal - CEO,Momofuku
Melanie Masarin - Founder,Ghia
Alexis Nelson - Founder,Black Forager
Vanessa Pham - Founder,Omsom
Sicily Sierra -Chef & Entrepreneur
Christina Tosi - Founder,Milk Bar
Elly Truesdell - Founder & Managing Partner, New Fare

There will be six total winners, all of which will be sold at Foxtrot for at least one business quarter, breaking down to one Hero Winner and five Category Winners:

- Ingredient Innovation
- Cherry Bombe's Women in Food Award
- Just Damn Good
- Classic Product Reimagined
- Fan Favorite (voted on via Foxtrot's website)

The Hero Winner will also receive $25,000 to be put towards their business, along with $45,000 in marketing support. They will additionally receive a mentorship session with three judges. Category Winners will receive $5,000 of business support and $20,000 in marketing support.

New this year, Foxtrot will bring Up & Comers to life through events in three markets: Chicago, Austin and Washington, DC., which will invite local foodies to interact with a panel of female powerhouses to discuss working as women in food. Hosted and moderated by Kerry Diamond (Founder, Cherry Bombe), Carla Dunham (CMO, Foxtrot) and Ashley Alden (VP of Merchandising, Foxtrot), panelists will include local entrepreneurial women in the food industry in addition to established national brand leaders.

Given the inclusive nature of this program, submissions from all genders will be accepted. Learn more about how to submit for Up & Comers.