Emily Edwards, who contributed the following article, is founder of Emily’s Foods and a graduate of a program, developed by FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator, to help minority entrepreneurs get their start-up companies up to speed. Please enjoy Emily’s story about how the “GFAx” program had tangible benefits — in the form of a business pitch contest prize.

As founder of Emily’s Foods LLC and developer of its better-for-you Paradise Icing ™, I am always proud to give a pitch for my company. And as an early-stage entrepreneur, it is always great to win an award — especially when it comes with a money prize. So I was thrilled on May 2 when I claimed 2nd Place in the PNW Big Sell at Purdue University Northwest in Hammond, Indiana, which earned $5,000 for my business.

I need to credit the Good Food Accelerator (GFA), a leading entrepreneur development program run by Chicago non-profit FamilyFarmed, for helping build my confidence to develop a prize-winning pitch. In May and June 2019, I participated in and completed what then was GFAx, a beta program geared to assist minority entrepreneurs in getting their CPG products ready for market and gain traction.

Shelby Parchman organized this program, now part of the Accelerator’s Stage 1, and he is now Managing Director of GFA as a whole.

As a startup company and solo entrepreneur, I have limited time and resources to build relationships with other brands and retailers, market effectively, and hire appropriate staff. GFAx provided me with the opportunity to understand retail distribution, distribution partners, value proposition, marketing and sales.

It also taught me the psychology of presenting an effective and thoughtful elevator pitch for competitions or investors. Thanks to these valuable tools, I became more comfortable with sharing my story.

The Road to Emily’s Foods

My personal career trajectory is not a straight line. I earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Indiana University Northwest in 2003. The next year, I founded Genoa Services, a mental health private practice clinic, and successfully ran this company for 15 years.

By 2018, I was ready for a change —  but still wanted to help others. I had always loved food, and saw this as a way to help others from a physical aspect, so in 2018 I founded Emily’s Foods.

I understood the psychology of food as it relates to an individual’s emotions, but did not have the knowledge of product development.  So I spent a year in product development with the Food Science Department at Purdue University’s flagship campus in West Lafayette, Indiana. The students and staff were instrumental in the development and formulation of Paradise Icing, Emily’s Foods signature product.

I created Paradise Icing when I embarked on my personal weight loss journey, and became frustrated with the lack of healthy and convenient snacks, dips and icing options that complemented my busy lifestyle. I started making plant-based icings with pea protein powder in my kitchen, paired them with snacks, and really enjoyed the results. When I shared them with people who weren’t already eating healthy icings and dips, they fell in love with them too.

Emily’s Foods offers the nation’s only conveniently packaged icings, dips and snacks made from organic plant proteins that are sweet, natural, healthy and flavorful. We are committed to providing our customers with wholesome products that also satisfy their sweet tooth.

But what is just as important is what Paradise Icing ™ doesn’t contain: gluten, soy, dairy, nuts and allergens, as well as preservatives and additives. The versatility of Paradise Icing ™ allows it to be used as an icing for cupcakes, cakes and muffins, as a dip for fruit, vegetables and pretzels, and as an enhancer for coffee.

Our 8-ounce jar of Caramel Sea Salt Vanilla flavor provides 4 grams of protein per serving size. Our 8-ounce creamy Chocolate flavor contains 5 grams of protein per serving size. Both have a shelf-stable life of 12 months.

We know you will savor the flavor and can’t wait to see how you turn your sweet pains into Paradise! For more information on Paradise Icing™ and the newest addition to our product line, Paradise Snax Pax, visit us online at www.paradisesnax.com.