Denise Woodard Partake

Source: C/O: Partake Foods

Brought To You By Walmart

It’s an amazing thing to have a vision and make it a reality. It’s even more amazing when that vision allows you to make a difference in your community. Such is the case for the 2024 Urban One Honors Best in Black Community Hero, Denise Woodard, Founder and CEO of Partake Foods. She’s created a successful business and, in the process, given the next generation of young Black entrepreneurs the tools to achieve in a space where they are underrepresented.

Woodard started her business in 2016 after her daughter, Vivienne, had been diagnosed with several food allergies. As she shopped for snacks that were safe for Vivienne to eat, she realized that much of what was available in stores wasn’t really appetizing. That frustration led Woodard to start Partake Foods, a brand offering delicious snacks free of the top nine food allergens: peanuts, milk, eggs, tree nuts, wheat, shellfish, soy, fish, and sesame. 

Woodard’s goal was to make snacks that taste delicious, whether or not you have food allergies. The brand includes an assortment of cookies and grahams as well as pancake + waffle mixes. Woodard didn’t venture into this world blindly—she had decade’s worth of experience working in consumer packaged goods, so if anyone was qualified to do it, it was her. Woodard took a risk, quit her job, and got to building her company.

Her dedication and grind has since paid off tremendously. Woodard became the first Black woman to publicly raise over $1 million for a consumer packaged goods startup. The success didn’t stop there—she went on to raise over $25 million for her brand, which can now be found on the shelves in more than 14,000 retailers, including Walmart.

But there was more Woodard wanted to accomplish. Her continued success in consumer packaged goods inspired her to pay it forward and help other Black people who are underrepresented in the space. As Woodard notes, the industry isn’t particularly robust in diversity—she was often the only woman in the room before she started her brand. Her Black and Asian heritage made the disparity even more glaring.

From its inception, Partake was built with deeper intentions in mind. Woodard has made it her goal to be the change she wanted to see, making sure her own staff reflects the diversity of the community Partake serves. In order to lift up future generations of minorities moving in the consumer packaged goods, she founded the Black Futures Fellowship. Every year, the 501c3 program invites active HBCU students to apply and helps them land paid internships in the consumer packaged goods industry. 

It’s one more step into making the world a more equitable place for budding Black entrepreneurs, or any HBCU student with their eyes on thriving in consumer packaged goods. Urban One Honors is proud to award Woodard with this well-deserved prize. Partake Foods is a testament to the greatness that can be achieved when Black entrepreneurs are well supported, thriving, and able to pay it forward to their community. Walmart is proud to sponsor this honor as part of its ongoing commitment to uplifting Black entrepreneurs.

You can watch Woodward and other honorees receive their flowers at Urban One Honors: Best in Black, Premiering Feb 25th at 8/7C on TV One.