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Bon AppéSweet Chosen as Winner of The Empower Project

Better-for-you Gelato maker wins nearly $700,000 in professional services via power pitch competition aimed at benefiting Black-owned businesses.

The Empower Project, created by a consortium of 11 firms with the intention of amplifying the voices of Black-owned businesses in the consumer packaged goods space, announces Bon AppéSweet, a maker of artisanal cane sugar-free gelato and chocolate bars as the winner of its first Power Pitch event.

After evaluating all applications, The Empower Project team selected five finalists to move on to their Power Pitch event which took place on March 5 via the Natural Products Expo Virtual Platform with New Hope Network. In addition to Bon AppéSweet, finalists included: Joe’s Gourmet, Food + People, Ava’s Pet Palace and Jimmy’s Vegan.

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

Thereasa Black, Founder and CEO of Bon AppéSweet

After each accomplished entrepreneur had the opportunity to pitch their business and answer questions from representatives, The Empower Project Team selected Bon AppéSweet as the 2021 winner, providing them access to nearly $700,000 in professional services ranging from branding, marketing, communications, food manufacturing, e-commerce, financial strategy, startup investing, financial strategy, data analysis, and legal assistance.

ice cream in clear glass cup
Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

Bon AppéSweet, was founded by Thereasa Black, a naval officer, attorney, entrepreneur, and single mom. The idea for Bon AppéSweet came to her while she was serving in Djibouti. It was her fourth deployment, but the first since the birth of her daughter Isabella, who recently turned two and fell in love with ice cream on their last night together. Throughout her deployment, Black dreamed of a way to never leave her daughter again. Giving up her promising future in law, she came up with the idea for Bon AppéSweet, a celebration of Isabella’s love for ice cream, sans the cane sugar.

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. 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.

Thereasa Black, Founder and CEO of Bon AppéSweet

Black launched her business at farmer’s markets in July of 2019, and the business took off from there with local retailers and via online. The Bon AppéSweet product line includes eight dairy-based gelato flavors (Banana Pudding, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cream, Pistachio Swirl, Honey Butter Pecan, S’mores, We Woke [Chocolate Espresso), Milk Chocolate and Vanilla [Fior di Latte) and four vegan flavors using oat milk (Peach Cobbler, Butter Pecan, We Woke and Vanilla). All are sweetened with fruit-based sweeteners as opposed to traditional cane sugar. Black also recently launched a line of chocolate bars: dark chocolate bars made from organic dates, organic cocoa butter and organic cocoa powder. A milk chocolate version is also available by adding coconut milk.

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.”

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