Because we couldn’t choose just one, we’re thrilled to announce the two local businesses selected by the Cleveland Foundation to receive investments as part of Cleveland Chain Reaction! Our Vice President, Strategic Grantmaking, Arts & Urban Design Initiatives Lillian Kuri was live on Fox 8 this morning to announce that, from more than 90 applicants and a pool of 10 finalists, BabyMunch Organics, LLC and Holmes Made Foods, LLC were chosen by the foundation to receive catalytic investments to relocate and grow their operations in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood. Both businesses were chosen based on their prospects for growth, as well as their alignment with the foundation’s mission to promote sustainable and inclusive opportunities benefitting Greater Cleveland’s economy, neighborhoods and residents. We’re proud to partner with these home-grown talents:
BabyMunch Organics founder LeAnna Miller launched her company to deliver a superior food product to health-conscious families. Miller was inspired to create her BabyMunch Organics line of nutrient-rich frozen baby food after her own daughter, who was born prematurely, began eating solid food. Determined to promote her daughter’s healthy development in every way possible, Miller was dissatisfied with the preservative-laden baby foods available in stores and opted to make her own instead. Realizing she wasn’t the only parent seeking fresh, all-natural and convenient baby food options, Miller decided to expand production beyond her home kitchen. She moved her operations into the Cleveland Culinary Launch Kitchen and enrolled in Aviatra Accelerators’ (formerly Bad Girl Ventures, Inc.) training program. After nearly two years of product and business development, Miller officially introduced BabyMunch to the public earlier this year.
Today, BabyMunch offers 8 fun-filled flavors made with 100% organic ingredients and packaged in kid-safe pouches that stay fresh in the fridge for two days or frozen for six months. The baby food is currently available for purchase online through a delivery subscription and at local pop-up markets. Still relatively new to the market, BabyMunch aims to expand its product lines and sales channels in the future.
BabyMunch is a social enterprise with a vision to improve community health one household at a time by educating and empowering parents to teach their children the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Miller herself has worked as a Baby Ambassador with Birthing Beautiful Communities, a community-based program to reduce infant mortality by educating and training expecting moms in predominately African-American urban Cleveland neighborhoods. With a new home in Slavic Village, BabyMunch could engage the surrounding community by providing educational workshops to new and expecting parents, increasing access to healthy food options for families, and also providing job opportunities for neighborhood residents.
Holmes Made Foods
At the age of 15, Shaker Heights native Ethan Holmes launched Holmes Made Foods with his grandfather’s applesauce recipe and ambitious dreams of entrepreneurial success. From humble origins in his family’s kitchen – acquiring raw materials as Christmas gifts – Holmes built his brand of all-natural applesauce through hard work and persistence. Over the past 8+ years, Holmes has diligently grown his operations and distribution by leveraging his personal network, pitching his product at every opportunity, and listening to the advice of business mentors. Along the way, Holmes and his company have won a number of entrepreneur pitch competitions, earning capital infusions to fuel business growth. Today, Holmes Mouthwatering Apple Sauce comes in two flavors, with plans to introduce a third flavor soon. The applesauce is available for purchase online and in more than 200 retail locations in Ohio and Illinois, including Acme Fresh Market, Giant Eagle, Heinen’s, Lucky’s Market, Marc’s, Target, Whole Foods, Zagara’s and more. Looking to the future, Holmes has his sights set on national and international markets for his products.
Beyond the inspiring entrepreneurial story of Ethan Holmes and Holmes Made Foods, we were impressed with Holmes’ dedication to serving the greater good through his business. In 2015, Holmes created the Young Entrepreneur Initiative, giving local students an opportunity to learn about small business operations and earn a wage by working in the production and sale of Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce. Holmes also works as a small business advisor through Cleveland State University’s Small Business Development Center, providing free advising services to local businesses.
As operations expand, Holmes remains committed to hiring from the community, with a focus on providing employment to disadvantaged populations as much as possible. Holmes is also committed to promoting healthy and delicious food products for children and families, and donates 10% of profits to fight childhood obesity and promote better nutrition. Holmes’ product is one of the healthiest applesauce brands on the market, with just 3 simple ingredients and no added sugar or artificial ingredients. Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce is naturally gluten-free and vegan.
We’re thrilled to begin our work with these entrepreneurs and their companies, and look forward to sharing updates as their plans in Slavic Village take shape. Stay up-to-date on the latest Cleveland Chain Reaction news and other big announcements from the Cleveland Foundation by subscribing to our monthly e-newsletter here.