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Celebrating Innovation and Inclusion on International Women’s Day

Retailers, brands laud accomplishments and everyday inspiration on March 8 and beyond
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Chelsie Hodge
Blender Bites is a woman-owned business founded by Chelsie Hodge. (Photo courtesy of Blender Bites)

Day in and day out, women keep the grocery industry moving forward at all levels of the business, from those who develop and provide products for the shelf to those on the front lines at the store to those who shape and guide organizations from corporate offices. Progressive Grocer recognizes women in its regular coverage as well as our Top Women in Grocery program and our Top Women in Grocery podcast

On International Women's Day, March 8, we’re spotlighting a few women and their businesses whose stories crossed our inbox this week. Below are some examples of women who reflect this year’s International Women's Day theme of “Inspire Inclusion” by creating environments where all women are valued and respected.

  • Andrea Teal is the fifth-generation owner of Teal's Market, overseeing 12 stores in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Carrying on the 75-year-old family business, Teal helped guide the retailer to 7% year-over-year sales growth. Last summer, food solutions company SpartanNash recognized Teal’s Market with a Vision Award for overall growth, expansion in the SpartanNash OwnBrands products and community engagement.
  • Kowalski's Markets, run by founder Mary Ann Kowalski and her daughter and CEO Kris Kowalski Christiansen, highlighted women-owned businesses in the wine and spirits category this month. Kowalski’s lauded Yola Jiminez of Yola Mezcal, who used a recipe passed down by her grandfather to make a handcrafted spirit and who leads a brand that is owned, produced and bottled by an all-female team.
  • Chelsie Hodge is on the CPG side of the industry as an entrepreneur who founded Blender Bites, a Canadian frozen food company that offers products like 1-Step Smoothies and  Frappés. She sought to create products made with 100% organic and detoxifying ingredients in an easy-to-use pre-portioned format without the use of unnecessary inner plastic packaging.

Retailers and brands are marking International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month throughout March in different ways. On March 8, c-store operator Circle K is recognizing special women by providing them with a treat from any participating location. Customers can recognize a woman in their life with a chocolate chip cookie or cup of coffee by sending them a coupon through a special online link

The Hershey Co. brought back limited-edition Hershey’s SHE Bars, developed with partner nonprofit organization Girls on the Run. This year, the brand is featuring more than 200 adjectives on the iconic chocolate bar that describe powerful, impactful women. 

[RELATED: Coca-Cola Becomes Top-Tier Sponsor of Women Grocers of America]

"Hershey continues its long-standing tradition of celebrating the women of today and the generations of tomorrow as we kick off Women's History Month," said Katie DeCapria, brand manager. "Empowering and advancing women is central to our value of togetherness and a critical component for our long-term success. By highlighting SHE in the center of our iconic Hershey’s bar, we hope to spark meaningful connection and help people celebrate the women who inspire us and make a difference in our daily lives." 

Meanwhile, the Bazooka Bubble Gum Brand teamed up with DC to create original digital comics; the first comic featured Wonder Woman and Jane and dropped on International Women’s Day.

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