March is Women’s History Month, and at Seward Co-op, we’re honoring the women who have played a significant role in the development of the co-op through their leadership, innovation, and spirit. Read about Annie Young, Gail Graham, and Rose Williams here and here. We would also like to take time to recognize the many women-led businesses that help supply our stores with great food, wellness products, and more, from Honey Pot hygiene products, to Coolhaus ice cream, to Yon’s Foods kimchi, to Safésha hand sanitizer. Below are a few more of the women-led businesses whose products you can find on our shelves. Each of the following is also a Community Foods producer. You can read about even more women-led businesses here.
Celebrating Women’s History Month
Sweet Troo Vi
Sweet Troo Vi is the project of wives and business partners, Rebekkah (she/her) and Bobbi Jo (she/her) Lamar Brunson. When Rebekkah was playing basketball overseas, she had her first taste of Belgian liege waffles, which soothed her homesickness and sparked her desire to create a way to use food as a vessel to bring warmth and comfort to her community back home. Sweet Troo Vi began as a food truck that served delicious gourmet liege waffles, but with the onset of the pandemic, it turned into a vegan cookie business, with flavors inspired by their decadent waffles. Care for community drives the Sweet Troo Vi mission, with the “Troo” in the name meaning “truth,” and also “to realize your optimal opportunities.” For the Lamar Brunsons, this means hiring at-risk people, partnering with other local inclusive businesses, and donating to youth organizations and the houseless community.
Quebracho produces scratch-made empanadas, among other Argentinian staples, using ingredients sourced locally whenever possible. Owner Belen Rodriguez, who grew up in the Argentine Pampas, began Quebracho in 2018 to share the experience of family Sundays by selling their food at local farmer’s markets and various pop-up events. With the onset of the pandemic, a decision was made to shift production to frozen empanadas. Belen says, “My husband and I, at the time, found that we already were freezing our empanadas because we were so busy with the business and still had our full-time jobs apart from Quebracho. Our empanadas were a really good item for weekly meals…That’s when we realized that we may have stumbled upon something here.” Quebracho’s empanadas can be found in the freezer aisles at both Seward Co-op stores. This change to their business model has offered an opportunity for Quebracho to expand their business and grow their sales volume.
Taking Stock was founded in the Twin Cities in 2015 by two friends, Molly (she/her) and Maddy (she/her), who dreamed of owning a business together. They combined their 25 years of kitchen experience to formulate a product that was both nutritious and delicious. After two years of experimenting, Taking Stock Bone Broths were created. Molly and Maddy initially sold their delicious broths in fresh and frozen forms at local farmer’s markets. Today, their shelf-stable bagged broths can be found at Seward Co-op for use in soups, stews, or for sipping. Taking Stock is a Certified Women’s Business Enterprise and is certified organic.
Cheesemaker Marieke Penterman and her husband, Rolf, are driven by a passion for honoring old-world cheese-making techniques from the Netherlands, where they grew up on small dairy farms. When they immigrated in 2003, they settled in Thorp, Wis., and began their own dairy farm. Just four months after Marieke crafted her first batch of Gouda, she captured a gold award at the 2007 US Champion Cheese contest, and in 2011, Marieke was the first woman to win a Wisconsin State Fair cheese competition. There are 60 licensed women cheesemakers in Wisconsin, including all three of the licensed cheesemakers at Marieke® Gouda. Additionally, women head nearly every department at Marieke® Gouda. The Pentermans believe the key to world-class Gouda is fresh ingredients and traditional practices. From having their own rBGH-free herd, to importing equipment, cultures, and a majority of the herbs and spices from Holland, their commitment to owning the whole process from milk to cheese wheel allows them to completely control the quality of their product.