Remember when you were in high school and were automatically slapped with a character label? For instance, in the classic ’80s film The Breakfast Club, there’s the athlete, princess, brain, criminal and basket case. Which one were you? It’s kind of difficult to decide all these years later, huh? That’s because, in reality, we’re probably a mix of many if not all of those characters. True, I may be a basket case on Monday, a real brain on Tuesday, do my best to be an athlete at Wednesday’s gym workout and I’m definitely a princess on Friday. But if, like me, you have those weeks in which you’re just a total basket case Monday through Friday, that’s OK too. In the end, we’re all just human.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 1.5 Million
To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to throw a little athlete and a whole lot of brain into the mix. Stamina and smarts are what it’s all about. That’s why it’s no surprise women are creating and growing our own businesses every dang day. In fact, African-American women account for the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States, running more than 1.5 million businesses. Since 1997, that number has increased 322 percent. And most of these businesswomen are doing it all with little or no outside funding. Now that’s ingenuity!
WOMAN TO WATCH: Erica Barrett, Founder of Southern Culture Artisan Foods
On The Dot wouldn’t exist without these phenomenal ladies, and today’s Woman to Watch is no exception. She’s applying her entrepreneurial chops to improving our favorite morning pursuit. Erica Barrett is the founder and creative mastermind behind Southern Culture Artisan Foods, a delicious biz on a mission to totally reinvent breakfast.
If you’re thinking, “Breakfast, schmeakfast. What’s the big deal?” take a moment to think about some of Erica’s top sellers: handcrafted pancake and waffle mix in flavors like peanut butter chocolate chip, bourbon salted pecan and Meyer lemon blueberry, as well as dark amber maple syrup and—oh yeah, baby—candied bacon rub. Are you drooling yet?
Erica’s online Southern Culture store also features vegan-friendly options (Hello, strawberry shortcake pancakes!), and all her artisan breakfast products are made by hand with Southern love. All are all-natural and contain no genetically modified ingredients. Her Southern Grits Trio—which includes a collection of truffle and sea salt grits, garlic and herb grits, and original stone-ground grits—was recently featured as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things. These tasty Southern staples even had the queen of influence exclaiming, “Oh my Lord, y’all, these are some good grits!” Talk about a ringing endorsement!
Like many Southern foodies, Erica has her granny to thank for all her culinary passion. At just 9 years old, she fell in love with cooking after her grandmother gave her a Good Housekeeping Cookbook. Erica explored the recipes and experimented with creating her own tasty concoctions for her family. And despite pursuing other career ventures, Erica’s culinary prowess and enthusiasm for cooking never left her.
In fact, years later, Erica decided to enter a cooking contest through FoodNetwork.com and her crunchy Asian pork tacos recipe won the whole darn thing, earning her a $10,000 prize. The win catapulted Erica into the food biz, and by 2011, she opened Southern Culture Artisan Foods with just $5,000. And she’s never looked back.
But Erica isn’t just a wizard in the kitchen; she’s also a savvy businesswoman. After developing her Southern-style breakfast products, she made a leap to exhibit at a trade show in Atlanta, spending $4,000 to do so. It was a gamble that paid off, resulting in $80,000 in revenue in a mere three days. Three days, y’all!
Now Erica’s products can be found on a variety of grocery-store shelves, as well as at her flagship store near Atlanta. Thanks, Erica, for reinventing our favorite meal and saving folks from drab breakfast with your carefully crafted batches of goodness. Let’s eat!
QUITE THE QUOTE
We’re sure Erica Barrett would agree with journalist John Gunther, who said:
“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.