PLANO, TX — Stacy’s Pita Chips, a Frito-Lay brand, is committing to help female founders be found. Its latest effort is partnering with Oscar-winning actress and producer Reese Witherspoon and the media company she founded, Hello Sunshine, to spotlight the 10 inspiring winners of the 2021 Stacy’s Rise Project. Stacy’s is also amplifying founders by launching, an online business directory featuring female founders from across the US.

As a female-founded brand that grew from a sandwich cart to nationwide distribution, Stacy’s is building upon its legacy of helping women rise through the Stacy’s Rise Project, a grant and mentorship program dedicated to helping women grow their businesses. Earlier this year, Stacy’s, with longtime partner Hello Alice, received an overwhelming amount of interest in the Rise Project from founders across the nation with an almost 300 percent increase in applications from years prior.

The 10 winners will each receive a $10,000 grant, mentoring from Frito-Lay and PepsiCo leadership, and the opportunity to participate in a speaker series featuring Frito-Lay leadership and notable founders. They are also welcomed into a community to experience the power of women coming together to lift each other up, celebrate each other’s successes, and achieve their dreams.

“I truly believe that when one woman rises, we all rise, and that is why my team at Hello Sunshine and I partnered with Stacy’s, beginning with the 2021 Stacy’s Rise Project,” said Witherspoon. “This project is so important because it not only provides essential funding, but also provides unmatched support through mentorship and connections to help female founders take their business to the next level.”


Helping Founders Overcome Unique Challenges

To better understand the unique challenges and opportunities female founders face, Stacy’s commissioned a survey among 500 US female entrepreneurs, defined as those who are currently or plan to own a business with the intent of making a profit.

One of the key findings was that unconscious bias, defined as “prejudice” or “social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness,” proves a hurdle in female entrepreneur’s business journeys. Notably, of the 500 respondents, more than one third (34%) believe they frequently experience unconscious bias from other people, and 76% believe they have encountered challenges their male counterparts have not. When it comes to having a support system, the survey reinforced the importance of having female leaders and mentors, with more than 45% of respondents saying it was very important.

“As we continue to champion the Stacy’s Rise Project and founders across the US, we’re overjoyed to partner with Hello Sunshine and Reese Witherspoon, whose dedication to empowering female entrepreneurs is inspirational and perfectly aligned with Stacy’s legacy of supporting these women,” said Ciara Dilley, Frito-Lay VP of marketing. “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.”

Aspiring entrepreneurs and fans can follow along the journey of the Stacy’s Rise Project class of 2021 by following #StacysRiseProject across social media channels

The 10 winners will each receive a $10,000 grant, mentoring from Frito-Lay and PepsiCo leadership, and the opportunity to participate in a speaker series featuring Frito-Lay leadership and notable founders.


Introducing the Stacy's Rise Project Class of 2021

  • Sara Fludd, St. Petersburg, FL, founder of Pop Goes the Waffle, an innovative waffle company dedicated to authentic liege waffle via retail, wholesale and e-commerce.
  • Samotria Holmes, Simpsonville, SC, founder of Holmes Sweet Home, a specialty food producer that is hyper-focused on ingredient quality and supporting its local economy.
  • Marsha Stephanson, Pflugerville, TX, founder of Cater to Mom, a monthly postpartum self-care subscription for new and seasoned moms.
  • Sue Kakuk, Minneapolis, MN, founder of Kakookies, grab-n-go cookies made with real food ingredients and plant-based protein that provide the nutrition of an energy bar with the classic comfort of a cookie, making them an ideal snack for travelers, outdoor enthusiasts and busy families.
  • Jocelyn Ramirez, Los Angeles, CA, founder of Todo Verde, a plant-based Mexican food business based out of East LA that is creating culturally relevant dishes.
  • Adrienne Walker, Capitol Heights, MD, founder of BlueHenry LLC, a manufacturer of high-quality, all-natural beverage garnishes. The company produces dehydrated fruit, simple syrups, and rimming salts and sugars that are predominantly used to amplify craft cocktails.
  • Amber Balakian, Reedley, CA, founder of Balakian Farms, a manufacturer of fruit and vegetable CPG products. The company currently produces Organic Blended Heirloom Tomatoes.
  • Alberta Liao, Millbrae, CA, founder of Jinka, the first vegan tuna spread product in the refrigerated section with a goal to provide a clean, healthy, sustainable and delicious tuna alternative for people looking to incorporate more plant-based foods in their life.
  • Julie Butcher, Estero, FL, founder of The Vegan Knife, a company that offers a line of allergy-friendly and vegan cupcake/cakes and donut mixes. All of its baking mixes are free of gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, soy and nuts.
  • Sajani Amarasiri, San Francisco, CA, founder of Kola Goodies Inc., which makes botanical-rich, superfood latte blends to boost consumers’ energy, mood, immunity and well-being. The company’s products are made with ingredients sourced directly from South Asian farmer collectives.