13 Black CPG Thought Leaders You Should Follow

From allowing strangers to shop for your groceries to finding that one place in your residence that has good lighting for early morning Zoom calls, COVID-19 caused an immense amount of change in our daily lives. I wrote several articles about how “drastically important” these and other market-bending adaptations would be to CPG companies, but all of that was put into perspective when another tragic event was documented and distributed for the world to witness – an event that amplified a systemic problem that reaches all corners of the world, including the CPG industry.

I believe that dismantling racial bias starts with looking inward to change oneself. Each of us can work against racism in our own way, but we must be willing to embrace a continuous journey of learning to improve equity and equality in this world. Part of that journey in the professional setting comes from listening to a diversity of thought leadership, so we can break down the unintended echo chambers in our lives.

This is in no way an exhaustive list, but I hope it can provide insightful voices from Black thought leaders in the CPG industry and maybe even spark curiosity to seek out more!

Anton Vincent

President, Mars Wrigley North America | LinkedIn

With more than two decades of experience in the CPG food industry, most notably as President of several key divisions at General Mills, Anton Vincent currently leads the North American division of Mars Wrigley, the largest chocolatier in the world. Mr. Vincent prides himself on developing the next wave of high-performing CPG industry leaders with a thoughtful approach that advocates for fairness, equality and opportunity for all.

Tristan Walker

Founder & CEO, Walker & Company Brands | LinkedIn

Prior to founding the health and beauty brand Walker & Company, which was acquired by P&G in 2018, Tristan Walker was the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the famed venture capitalist firm Andreessen Horowitz. Last year, Fortune Magazine named Mr. Walker one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.” He is also on the Board of Directors at Foot Locker and Shake Shack.

Trinity Mouzon Wofford

Co-Founder, Golde | LinkedIn

Recently named to Forbes’ prestigious “30 Under 30” list, Trinity Mouzon Wofford was only 23 years old when she co-founded the ingestible health and beauty CPG company Golde. After more than two years of bootstrapping the business, Golde landed on the shelves of Sephora, making Ms. Wofford the youngest Black woman to launch a line of products in the beauty retailer.

Ethan Holmes

Founder, Holmes Made Foods | LinkedIn

Having started his all-natural homemade applesauce business at the age of 15 years old, Ethan Holmes had more than a decade of entrepreneurial experience under his belt by the time most founders get started in the CPG industry. His company, Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce, is one of eight selected to be a part of Chobani’s Spring 2020 Incubator program. When Mr. Holmes is not making delicious applesauce, he speaks publicly to local schools and organizations about his entrepreneurial journey to inspire the next generation.

Steven Williams

CEO, PepsiCo Foods North America | LinkedIn

As a more than 20-year veteran at PepsiCo, Steven Williams currently leads the North American market’s $18 billion snacking and convenient foods business that includes beloved brands under the Frito-Lay and Quaker Foods portfolios. Mr. Williams has been a key voice in revealing the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Black and Latino communities, while also providing assistance with the help of The PepsiCo Foundation.

Cashmere Nicole

Founder, Beauty Bakerie | LinkedIn

While recovering from a double mastectomy in 2014, Cashmere Nicole was asked to be featured on Beyonce’s website for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That story helped Beauty Bakerie gain exposure , but Ms. Nicole was only getting started. Five years later, her beauty company was named to the esteemed Inc. 5000 List of the fastest growing private companies in the United States.

Ibraheem Basir

CEO, A Dozen Cousins | LinkedIn

Originally cutting his teeth at the natural food brand Annie’s, Ibraheem Basir caught the entrepreneurship bug when he couldn’t find culturally authentic, healthy beans in a convenient, ready-to-eat format. Named after his daughter and her 11 cousins, Mr. Basir’s A Dozen Cousins brand was selected to be a part of Chobani’s Spring 2020 Incubator program.

Maya French

Co-Founder, Koia | LinkedIn

After developing lactose intolerance and struggling to find a tasty post-workout drink, Maya French came up with the idea for Koia in 2013, and it’s now one of the hottest plant-based beverage brands on the market. Ms. French was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list in 2019, the same year Koia made INC. Magazine’s list of the top 200 fastest growing private companies.

Jomaree Pinkard

Co-Founder, Hella Cocktail Co. | LinkedIn

Prior to starting his craft cocktail company Hella Cocktail Co. in 2012, Jomaree Pinkard helped develop and implement The Salvation Army’s September 11 World Trade Center Recovery Program and consulted for the NFL. Mr. Pinkard has been a thought-provoking voice on equity and equality within the CPG industry for many years.

Ryan Pintado-Vertner

Founder, Smoketown, LLC | LinkedIn

After holding management and leadership positions at The Clorox Company, Conagra Brands and Tyson Foods, Ryan Pintado-Vertner founded the CPG consultancy Smoketown, LLC in 2018. He also sits on the boards of Naturally Chicago and Flock Community, in addition to hosting a podcast that interviews leaders from emerging CPG brands.

Patrick Glanville

Founder, 3 Some Chocolates | LinkedIn

Patrick Glanville decided to take his love for culinary arts to Belgium and become a certified chocolatier before launching 3 Some Chocolates in 2017. In addition to scaling his premium chocolate business, Mr. Glanville serves as one of the most active and informative voices in the CPG industry, helping amplify the success stories of other Black-owned businesses.

Justin Forsett

Co-Founder, Hustle Clean | LinkedIn

Even before Justin Forsett played nine seasons in the NFL, he knew there was a market need to solve a problem all physically-active busy individuals struggle with. That led him to create the germ-killing body wipe ShowerPill (now known as Hustle Clean). The company has been featured on the TV show “Shark Tank” and is available across the country in retailers such as Target.

Web Smith

Founder, 2PM Inc. | LinkedIn

While not exclusively focused on CPG (though he is an active investor in the space), Web Smith is a thought leader that any stakeholder in the industry should follow. Along with co-founding performance menswear brand Mizzen+Main, Mr. Smith runs 2PM Inc., one of the most insightful commerce-related media companies.

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