Florence Dennis: Shining a Bright Light on African Cuisine
Hi folks! I’m Spiffy, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth, back with a new guest. Florence Dennis, founder, and CEO of Flows Tasty Treats, is a powerhouse committed to making a difference in the world. Let’s see how she’s doing it!
Spiffy: Welcome Florence! I’m hungry already! Can you tell me what challenges are you addressing?
Florence: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! At Flows Tasty Treats, we are on a mission to bring visibility to African cuisine through the simple joy of snacking. While other ethnic groups have successfully introduced their native foods into mainstream America, Africans have yet to succeed at this. We hope that throughout our efforts, we can shed a positive light on the continent through food. We also seek to empower local producers in the various countries where future products will source. Our ultimate goal is that Flows Tasty Treats becomes a vehicle for positive change in society. We have a goal of distributing $1 million in scholarship funds once we have the capacity to do so.
Spiffy: This sounds very multi-faceted! What motivated you to do it?
Florence: I have always believed you cannot give what you do not have. I have a big heart and desire to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Starting a business that promotes my love for the African continent, its people, and the possibility of uplifting others through employment and educational opportunities were the driving forces behind this initiative.
Spiffy: And can you tell me how you are working at creating a more equitable world?
Florence: We are working towards a more equitable world by being intentional about our hiring practices, where and from whom we source our ingredients, and how we invest our profit. We have a goal of investing $1 million into a scholarship fund for students here in the US and in Africa. We hope to transform lives by providing life-changing opportunities to people who need it the most.
Spiffy: What about a recent milestone? Do you have any you can tell me about?
Florence: Well, Spiffy, in line with our goal of penetrating the mainstream American market with African-inspired snacks, we were fortunate to land a vendor opportunity with ShopRite last year. Our flagship product, "Toasted Corn and Peanut Mix", inspired by a popular snack from Ghana, is now sold in four ShopRite stores: three stores in New Jersey (East Orange, West Orange, and Elizabeth) and one in the Bronx. We look forward to expanding into additional ShopRite stores in the near future. We also launched the product on Amazon last year.
Spiffy: I’m curious if you’ve experienced failure and what you may have learned from it.
Florence: As an ambitious entrepreneur who wants to get things done as quickly as possible, I have come to realize that sometimes it's okay to take things slow. I am come to realize that delays are actually a blessing in disguise. There is nothing wrong with setting ambitious goals. But the key is to accept setbacks with grace and hope. That's been a big lesson on my journey so far.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you want to add about your work?
Florence: I must confess that I have been totally amazed at the success we've achieved so far. Despite the challenges and setbacks, we haven't lost sight of our goals. I've come to realize patience and persistence are necessary ingredients for achieving any major goal. We must not give up!
Spiffy: I totally agree, Florence! I can’t wait to see how far you go. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me! It’s been an honor!
Florence Dennis is the founder and CEO of Flows Tasty Treats, a company with a mission of bringing visibility to African cuisine through the simple joy of snacking. Florence believes the world can actually be a better place. She doesn’t just say it: she believes it. Having known good times and tough times herself, Florence wants Flows Tasty Treats to be a vehicle for change in the world.
© 2020 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s stories of founders building a more equitable world at www.ladderworks.co/blogs/spiffys-blog