As a woman-founded brand – growing from a sandwich cart to a household brand – Stacy’s Pita Chips has been fiercely dedicated to helping women rise through its annual mentorship programme.
Stacy’s is kicking off this year’s programme with a short film, created by Canadian-American film director, screenwriter, producer and actress Nisha Ganatra – known for her critically-acclaimed independent film Chutney Popcorn and TV series Transparent, for which she was nominated for the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Rise depicts the daily trials, tribulations and achievements of women entrepreneurs, specifically spotlighting three winners of Stacy’s Rise Project: Jocelyn Ramirez, Sajani Amarasiri and Maria Jose Palacio.
It also features an original poem by No. 1 New York Times bestselling author and poet Rupi Kaur.
A breakout literary phenomenon, Kaur wrote, illustrated and self-published her poetry collections ‘milk and honey’, and ‘the sun and her flowers’ – selling more than 10 million copies and translated into over 40 languages. Her latest collection, ‘home body’, debuted #1 on bestseller lists across the world.
Kaur also self-produced Rupi Kaur Live, a one hour special on love, loss, trauma, healing, femininity, migration and humour, which debuted on Amazon Prime Video in 2021. She is currently on a tour to perform her poetry to audiences across the US, Canada, Mexico, the UK and Europe.
The film has been produced in collaboration with Hello Sunshine, the media company founded by Oscar-winning actress and producer Reese Witherspoon, and Ventureland, an independent creative studio founded by Academy Award-winning producer John Battsek and Prettybird partners Kerstin Emhoff, Ali Brown and Paul Hunter.
Hello Sunshine tells stories across all platforms – from scripted and unscripted TV, feature films, animated series, podcasts, audio storytelling and digital series – putting women at the centre of every story it creates. It is also home to Reese’s Book Club and the newly launched RBC App. Fast growing in reach and influence, this community is propelled by meaningful connections with stories, authors and fellow members.
“We’re so thrilled to continue our partnership with Stacy’s Pita Chips through this inspiring short film that shines a light on the unique stories of three women entrepreneurs,” said Witherspoon.
“At Hello Sunshine, we are honoured to continue telling stories that put women at the centre of the narrative, and we're so grateful to partners like Stacy’s who believe in and support this mission through our work together. We’re beyond thankful to them for helping to bring Nisha Ganatra's beautiful vision for this film to life.”
Rise will debut in January, but a preview was aired at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards.
The strength of women
The film spotlights the stories of three previous Stacy’s Rise Project winners.
Sajani Amarasiri is founder of Kola Goodies, which makes botanical-rich superfoods and tea latte blends that boost wellbeing with ingredients sourced directly from South Asian farmer collectives. Her mission is to increase cultural representation and wealth in communities from where today’s trendy wellness rituals originate. Also, to connect cultures to create a more equitable industry.
Jocelyn Ramirez, founder of Todo Verde, is creating culturally relevant plant-based Mexican food experiences through seasonings for home cooks, a published cookbook and catering for the Los Angeles community. Todo Verde also aims to create lifestyle shifts within the Latinx community with healthy eating and self-care through awareness and access to naturally good food.
Maria Jose Palacio is a fifth-generation coffee farmer who founded Progeny Coffee with a mission to take Colombian farmers out of poverty. Progeny has taken on the challenge to design its own coffee chain by providing undeniable coffee transparency and unprecedented support to coffee growers stuck in a poverty loop.
Rise demonstrates how their roots – their stories, voices and fortitude of those who came before – are a rich reserve of resilience that inspires their continued fight for progress.
“As a filmmaker, I have always been dedicated to representing and amplifying the underrepresented stories of women and immigrants and that is what we’re doing with Rise,” said Ganatra.
“By telling these women's stories both past and present, we are continuing the legacy that will uplift all those who come after. I'm very excited for the world to see the full film in January.”
When one women rises, we all rise
The project has been supporting women since 2017, providing mentorship, resources and nearly $1,000,000 in funding to elevate the leaders who help communities thrive.
With the help of long-time grant partner Hello Alice – a free, multichannel platform with a community of over one million business owners in a across the globe – Stacy’s has issued an invite to all women entrepreneurs across the US to apply to the 2022 programme before 14 October.
Stacy’s will award 10 outstanding impresarios with a $15,000 grant, along with mentorship from Frito-Lay and PepsiCo execs and an incomparable built-in community of powerful women.
“It is so important to support women in their pursuit of entrepreneurship, because when one woman rises, we all rise,” said Rhasheda Boyd, VP of marketing at Frito-Lay.
“Our goal with the Stacy’s Rise Project and Rise is to spotlight the untold stories of women entrepreneurs and recognise their resilience.
“We’re honoured to collaborate with like-minded partners, including Hello Sunshine, Reese Witherspoon and Nisha Ganatra, to drive awareness for these countless women lifting up their communities."
The brand has also made it easier to connect with other women-run businesses across the US. Stacy’s FoundedByHer online business directory was launched in 202, providing consumers with the ability to search for founders by zip code or category.
Stacy’s Snacks is one of the many brands that make up Frito-Lay North America, the $19bn convenient foods division of PepsiCo, headquartered in Purchase, New York.
The company operates 30+ manufacturing facilities across the US. and Canada, more than 200 distribution centre and services 315,000+ retail customers per week through its direct-store-delivery (DSD) model.
PepsiCo’s extensive portfolio generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.