- Stacy's Pita Chips is partnering with Reese Witherspoon's media company Hello Sunshine to support the Stacy's Rise Project, a grant and mentorship program for female founders, according to a news release.
- The Frito-Lay snack brand has been running the Rise Project since 2019 but is now looking to better amplify the stories of its winners. Hello Sunshine will spread media awareness for the 10 grant recipients this year as well as "extend visibility" to the 2022 class, per the release.
- Additionally, Stacy's created an online business directory, FoundedbyHer.org, to give more exposure to female-led businesses that register through the site. The effort looks to help entrepreneurial women overcome obstacles that their male counterparts are not subject to during a boom time for startups and direct-to-consumer brands.
Stacy's expands the scope of its ongoing Rise Project with the help of Hello Sunshine, a buzzy media brand founded by actor Reese Witherspoon that is "dedicated to female authorship and storytelling across all platforms," according to its website. The company, which is behind programming like HBO's "Big Little Lies" and has previously worked with marketers including Procter & Gamble, was sold to a new media venture backed by private equity firm Blackstone for roughly $900 million last month, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Rise Project seeks to help female entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground, following in the footsteps of Stacy Madison, who started Stacy's as a food cart in the mid-1990s. The annual initiative doles out $10,000 grants and mentorship opportunities from Frito-Lay and PepsiCo leaders and saw a nearly 300% lift in applications in 2021 compared to previous years, per the announcement. It is conducted with the help of Hello Alice, a Houston-based company centered on supporting small businesses.
Frito-Lay ramping up its purpose-led work around women in the business world comes as many continue to encounter obstacles to success. For the latest push, Stacy's commissioned a poll from Market Research Society that surveyed 500 female entrepreneurs in the U.S. The research found more than one-third of respondents reported experiencing unconscious bias and that 76% believe they grapple with challenges their male peers do not.
The brand hopes that linking with Hello Sunshine will provide a larger stage for sharing women's success stories over the long term. Among the 10 winners of the Rise Project this year are Marsha Stephanson, the founder of a postpartum self-care subscription service called Cater to Mom, and Alberta Liao, who created the first vegan tuna spread alternative through her company Jinka. Many of the 2021 grant recipients skew toward packaged food and beverage areas that could be relevant to PepsiCo's business.
"This is just the beginning of Stacy's work with Hello Sunshine and Reese to spotlight remarkable founders and continue to build up a community of empowered and supported women," Ciara Dilley, Frito-Lay's vice president of marketing, said in a press statement.
Last year, Stacy's set up the "Female Founder Finder", a geotargeted directory of more than 13,000 women-owned businesses that consumers could look up using QR codes embedded on its packaging. Along with the new online directory, where consumers can seek out nearby businesses by searching zip codes and categories, Stacy's will track the stories of its Rise Project recipients on social media through the hashtag #StacysRiseProject. For Women's Entrepreneurship Day on Nov. 19, the marketer will also create curated gift boxes inspired by the women taking part in FoundedbyHer.org.