The Empower Project Names Gelato Company First Winner

The Empower Project has selected its first winner: Bon AppéSweet, a gelato company founded and run by a single mother.

“There are so many potential pitfalls when launching a business and it’s very hard for someone like me—a Black woman and single mother—to attract traditional financing,” said Thereasa Black, Founder and CEO of Bon AppéSweet, in a press release. “Participating in The Empower Project and then being chosen as the winner is truly a blessing. Knowing that I have the support and expertise of the sponsoring companies behind me allows me to breathe easier and move my business forward.”

The Empower Project is committed to supporting the Black community in the CPG space. It was created by a consortium of 11 firms with the intention of amplifying the voices of Black-owned businesses by coming together to provide one business with over $700,000 worth of their services, including branding, marketing, communications, food manufacturing, e-commerce, financial strategy, startup investing, data analysis, and legal assistance.

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Black is a naval officer, attorney, and single mom. Her fourth deployment was her first as a mom, and the press release states: “Throughout her deployment, Black dreamed of a way to never leave her daughter again.” The path she chose was Bon AppéSweet, in order to celebrate her daughter’s love of ice cream, which was the last food they shared before Black’s final deployment.

“I knew when I left the military, I wanted to start a business,” Black said. “I also wanted an ice cream that I could allow my daughter to eat without feeling guilty, so Bon AppéSweet was born.”

Bon AppéSweet contains up to 50% less cholesterol than ice cream, plus 16 essential vitamins and minerals. The gelato is made with zero cane sugar; it is sweetened with fruit-based sweeteners instead. It comes in eight dairy-based flavors and four oat milk-based vegan flavors. Black also recently launched a line of dark chocolate bars made from organic dates, organic cocoa butter, and organic cocoa powder. A milk chocolate version, made with coconut milk, is also available.

Other finalists include Joe’s Gourmet, Food + People, Ava’s Pet Palace, and Jimmy’s Vegan.

“In the end, all of our finalists are winners, and we are excited to see what the future holds for each of them. Bon AppéSweet and Thereasa definitely stand out as a company and entrepreneur that we are eager to help scale,” said Steve Gaither, Chief Marketing Officer at C.A. Fortune, who helped found the project alongside William Madden of Whole Brain Consulting. “The Empower Project does not end here, as there is still so much work that needs to be done. We look forward to continuing this program and helping to help amplify underrepresented voices within the space.”