Foxtrot to Increase Number of Female Founded or Led Brands on Its Shelves by 50% in the Next Year

The retailer’s 2022 Up & Comers Awards aims to help women-led small businesses gain exposure.
A Foxtrot Market location

CHICAGO — Foxtrot 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. This year’s program brings a dedicated focus to finding and nurturing female and femme-identifying entrepreneurs. 

The convenience store chain, which currently operates 18 locations across Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Dallas, is committed to increasing the number of female founded or led brands on its store shelves by 50 percent in the next year.

"Our Up & Comers program embodies what we do at Foxtrot every day — discovering small makers who are just as passionate about food as we are, and bringing their delicious and best-in-class products to our customers to enjoy," said Carla Dunham, chief marketing officer at Foxtrot. "We're committed to making our shelves reflect the customers we serve and continuing to support small makers everywhere.”

When the program initially launched in 2021, only 10 percent of the more than 900 applicants were women, but they accounted for half of the award finalists. This raised the retailer’s antennae that it needed to do more to uplift this community.

Foxtrot currently carries more than 100 women-owned brands, which includes 450-plus SKUs.

Owners and makers can submit applications through April 4 for the chance to be sold in Foxtrot stores and nationally via Foxtrot Anywhere. Six winners will be selected this year one Hero Winner and five Category Winners all of which will be sold at Foxtrot for at least one business quarter.

The Category Winners will consist of:

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

Submissions from all genders are being accepted, though two prizes — the Hero Winner and Cherry Bombe's Women in Food Award — are reserved for women-led businesses.

Foxtrot is bringing together a group of female founders and tastemakers who are disrupting the food space to review the submissions, taste-test the products, and vote to determine the winners.

The retailer is committed to donating $200,000 in funding and marketing to feature the winning brandson its shelves for at least one business quarter.The Hero Winner will receive $25,000 to be put toward their business,along with $45,000 in marketing support and a mentorship session with three judges. Category winnerswill each receive $5,000 of business support and $20,000 in marketing support.

“Up & Comers is designed to open the door for the countless entrepreneurs, and specifically women and BIPOC-founded brands, who don't have access to the resources to grow their business. We're excited about the growth we have ahead as a company, and we want to use our momentum to support these talented makers,” Dunham said.

Based in Chicago, Foxtrot plans to open 50 new stores over the next two years in both existing and new markets. The company’s mission is to redefine convenience for the modern consumer by marrying the best of neighborhood retail and e-commerce technology to create “a community of discovery.”