Squish Stars: Denise Woodard

denise woodard smiling
The past number of months have been a whirlwind. Yet, there are some women entrepreneurs that are continuing to break the mold and shine like the stars they are! We're proud to introduce our Squish Stars campaign, highlighting incredible women entrepreneurs!

We were lucky to talk to Denise Woodard CEO and Founder of Partake Foods, and ask her some questions. 

Tell us about your business? How did you get started?
Partake Foods is a natural food brand that makes delicious, nutritious, allergy-friendly snacks. Our first products are cookies that are free of the top 8 allergens, gluten-free, vegan, non GMO, and made with simple, whole food ingredients. Our mission is to provide peace of mind to those with dietary restrictions and simple enjoyment to everyone. I was inspired by my 5 year old daughter who has multiple food allergies to leave my nearly decade long career at Coca-Cola to launch Partake in 2017 as a self-funded, self-distributed effort, but we've since grown distribution to include Target, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and The Fresh Market.

What measures have you been forced to take since COVID started? What is the biggest pivot you had to make with your business? 
Denise: Our biggest pivot has been to working fully remote, which has been especially challenging during a period of rapid growth and hiring for our business.

What have you learned from this experience thus far? Both on a professional and personal level. 
Denise: That I can't control everything, and for me, the most important thing right now is to be a kind, resilient human.

Have any businesses or individuals helped to inspire you through this time? What do you admire most about them? 
Denise:  Organizations that are using their voice to speak up for what they believe in and what is right - companies that come to mind are Patagonia and Ben & Jerry's.

What are the biggest issues for running your company right now? What areas do you need help with? 
Denise: Our biggest issue is maintaining and protecting our company culture during such a tumultuous time.

What's been your biggest win since starting your company? 
Denise:  Successfully securing the funding we needed to scale our business - and using that capital to land accounts like Target. Also, the growth of our business allowing us to create programs like the Black Fellows in Food & Beverage fellowship and to support organizations like the Food Equality Initiative.

Are there any special or new self-care practices that have helped you stay grounded? 
Denise: A daily walk along the waterfront where I live has definitely helped preserve my sanity.

Favorite show you've been watching/book you're reading/podcast you're listening to? 
Denise: I watched Ozark, Selling Sunset, and have now moved on to Schitt's Creek!

If you could be any of our marshmallow flavors, which one would you be? 
Denise:  Birthday Party because I'm always up for a celebration!

To learn more about Denise and her business:
Instagram: @ partakefoods