Meet Michele Hoskins, founder of Michele Foods Inc., a multi-million dollar business whose products are sold in more than 10,000 stores nationwide. Her syrup products have recently seen a massive increase in sales since the owners of Aunt Jemima decided to pull its racist brand from grocery store shelves.
Michele is not new to the industry. She began manufacturing her specialty breakfast syrups in 1984. That same year, Michele secured the top two largest retail chains in the Chicagoland area, which took her out of the basement and into 400 retail chains. She went on to become the first minority supplier for Denny’s, the primary minority supplier for Walmart. Over the years, she has partnered with some of the most respected food companies in the world – General Mills and Sara Lee.
Michele laughs when she recalls her early struggles and countless mistakes. She overcame incredible odds to turn this family secret into a formula for success. She comments, “There were no mentors for an African American female entrepreneur in the food industry. I had to learn from my mistakes. Had I not been naïve, I may not have started this journey. All I had going for me was my goal and a commitment to making it work.”
Today, her products can be found in the top retail chains, more than 8,000 stores nationwide, including Kroger, Albertson’s, Jewel Foods, Publix, Safeway, and more. The recipe that started it all is known as Michele’s Honey Crème Syrup, a rich, creamy confection made with honey, cream, and butter.
In addition to the original Honey Crème, her products are also available in Butter Pecan and Maple Crème flavors. These days the syrups are more than just for waffles and pancakes; cooks use them as condiments and in sweet and savory dishes.