New Jersey is home to many ambitious and talented women who juggle family, career, and home. A select few of these women are also extremely busy building their own companies to help better manage the balance of work and family. At NJMOM, we want to highlight these extraordinary women who build businesses in New Jersey, and learn the secret to their success.
Founder of Partake Foods & NJMOMpreneur:
When Denise Woodard found herself frustrated with a lack of allergy-friendly snack options for her daughter, she knew she had to take action; that’s when she founded Partake Foods. Using her professional experience in Consumer Packaged Goods for Fortune 100 companies, Denise was able to turn her family’s problem into a positive solution. Not only does her brand offer a line of delicious mini cookies in a variety of sweet and savory flavors, but these bit-size treats are made with natural ingredients that avoid the top 12 allergens, and are also 100% non-GMO, Kosher, vegan, and gluten-free. Denise’s passion, ambition, and know-how – together with her hard-working team – are responsible for the success of her company that offers safe solutions for families at snack time.
NJMOM had the pleasure of learning all about Partake Foods from Denise herself, plus her goals to grow the company, and her family’s favorite things to do in New Jersey.
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Denise: Partake Foods is a line of allergy friendly kids’ food. I founded Partake in June 2016, inspired by my daughter’s struggle with food allergies and frustrated with the lack of allergy friendly options that exist for kids. Our products are free from the top 12 allergens including peanuts, tree nuts, and soy, and are also Non-GMO, Kosher, Vegan, and Gluten-Free. We are a Certified B Corp Pending and certified Minority Owned Business. Mini cookies are available in Carrot Oat, Sprouted Grain Chocolate Chip and Sweet Potato Millet for $4.99 per 5.5oz box on Amazon and at the brand’s website.
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Denise: My daughter, Vivienne, is my biggest source of inspiration. When she was very young, we discovered that she is allergic to corn, cashews, pistachios, eggs, and bananas. I wanted to make sure she had convenient, allergy-friendly snacks to enjoy – and when I couldn’t find them, I started Partake. It was also important for me to teach my young daughter that when you identify a problem, rather than waiting for someone else to come along with a solution, sometimes you have to do it yourself!
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Denise: My favorite part has been seeing something grow from an idea in my living room to an actual product that is on store shelves. The process taught me so much – from food production and operations to much more about myself and my resiliency.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Denise: I spent the past 12 years in Consumer Packaged Goods for Fortune 100 companies. Most recently, I held the position of Director, National Sales in Coca Cola’s Venturing and Emerging Brands division where they incubate entrepreneurial beverage brands.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Denise: I am so proud that Partake has afforded me the opportunity to hire several amazing women, both fresh out of college and reentering the workforce after taking some time off for babies.
I’m so passionate about creating a team of authentic, hard-working, and intelligent people to help grow Partake.
NJMOM: What can we expect from you for the rest of 2017?
Denise: From a personal perspective, I’m excited to continue watching my daughter grow – she’s two years old right now and really coming into her personality. Also, my husband and I started a tradition last year of running a half marathon every October with close friends, so I’m excited for race weekend. Professionally, my mantra at Partake has been start small, think big, and scale quickly. Before the end of the year, we hope to be available nationally with a major retailer.
NJMOM: What cause are you most passionate about?
Denise: A cause that’s close to my heart is food allergies. They’ve doubled in the past 12 years, and peanut allergies have tripled, and there’s no proven cause. To help get to the bottom of things and hopefully turn this trend around, Partake donates a portion of our revenue to non-profit organizations dedicated to food allergy research. In addition, I’m passionate about anything related to children – from childhood poverty to improving education.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom ever gave to you?
Denise: Treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
Denise: This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson has been my favorite quote since high school and really is how I measure success:
“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Denise: I love getting to live life again through my daughter’s eyes. As a busy adult, you get so caught up in to-do lists and technology that you forget to appreciate the small things. Getting to remember the magic behind holidays and (literally) stopping to smell the flowers has been a welcome reprieve from the stress of everyday life.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Denise: Some kids activities we love are the Liberty Science Center – I think I’ve learned just as much as my daughter from visiting. Also, we love the Turtle Back Zoo. As far as restaurants and coffee shops, some of my favorite neighborhood spots in Jersey City and Hoboken are Warehouse Café for avocado toast, Bucket & Bay for craft gelato, and Razza for pizza.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Denise: My family has lived in Jersey City for the past five years, and we love it – the diverse community, great restaurants, and proximity to the city.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Denise: In the words of Dory from Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming.” There will definitely be days where you feel like the to-do list is never-ending, you’re failing as a mom or an entrepreneur (or both), or you wonder why you started the entrepreneurial journey. But there’s so much learning in the process that it only makes you stronger, and I promise, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.