• Hoboken Girl of the Week: Denise Woodard – Founder of Partake Foods

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    From desperation come inspiration. Frustrated with the lack of allergy friendly food options for kids, Denise Woodard set out to create Partake Foods. Because her daughter, Vivienne, is allergic to corn, cashews, pistachios, eggs, and bananas, Denise founded Partake to not only give other kids allergy-friendly snack options, but to also teach her daughter that when life gives you an obstacle, you don’t wait for someone else to fix it — sometimes you have to find the solution yourself. Inspired yet? Because of her fierce momming {and delicious allergy-friendly snacks} we chatted with Denise Woodward about her brand, herself, and of course, what she loves about Hoboken and Jersey City.

    Basics of the brand

    • Our brand vision is for Partake to be the leading, trusted allergy-friendly kids’ food brand, with a meal or snack solution for every daypart.
    • Our first products are three types of mini cookies – Sprouted Grain Chocolate Chip, Carrot Oat, and Sweet Potato Millet.
    • All are Non GMO Project Verified, Kosher, Certified Vegan, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Soy Free.
    • All products are made with whole food ingredients — sprouted grains/real fruits/real vegetables; they are lower in sugar and higher in fiber and iron than existing competition.
    • Snacks are free of the Top 12 Allergens.
    • We are a certified B Corp Pending and certified Minority Owned Business.
    • Our products are currently sold on our website, will be on Amazon later this month, and will be available at local retailers in the coming weeks.

    On what inspires and motivates her

    My daughter, Vivienne, is definitely my biggest source of inspiration. Because of her allergies, I wanted to make sure there were convenient, allergy-friendly snack solutions that existed for her – and when I couldn’t find them, I started Partake. This year we’d love to get nationwide distribution of our products at Whole Foods Market. We’ll find out in September if that goal will become a reality. Also, I want her to understand that when you identify a problem, rather than waiting for someone else to come along with a solution, sometimes you have to do it yourself. What keeps me motivated is a passion to succeed. I’m a first generation college graduate, grew up in a small city in North Carolina, and would love to serve as an example that when you stay true to yourself and work hard, you can do anything! 

    Denise on a typical day and the highs and lows of her job

    Late to bed, early to rise! This year, I’ve been working full time as a Director of Sales at Coca-Cola, as well as working hard to get Partake off the ground. I’m typically up at 5am, working on both jobs. My husband has been amazing in covering morning duty with our daughter. My days are usually filled with meetings, conference calls, and brainstorming. I’m lucky that I work from home, so I do take a break mid-day to eat lunch with Vivienne and decompress for a bit – we also hang out every afternoon/evening once our amazing nanny leaves – that typically involves a trip to the park. Once Vivienne is asleep and my husband is home from work, he and I catch up on the day, and then it’s bedtime. I signed up for my second half marathon, which takes place this October, so I also try to squeeze in a couple of runs throughout the week.

    On the highlights in her career and life and what she finds most rewarding

    Highlight of my life – the birth of my daughter. She’s brought so much joy and purpose into my life. I definitely wouldn’t be starting Partake, if it weren’t for her. But the most rewarding part of my job – there’s SO many! I love learning, and boy, have I learned a lot the past year about manufacturing, product formulation, and everything in between. Also, I love that Partake has afforded me the opportunity to hire several amazing women – both fresh out of college and reentering the workforce after taking some time off for babies. I’m so passionate about creating a team of authentic, hard working, and intelligent people to help grow Partake. A recent highlight is that Partake is one of 25 national semi-finalists for the Miller Lite Tap the Future competition – we were chosen out of 7,000 applicants and will pitch in front of Shark Tank’s Daymond John on July 18 for a chance to win $120,000.

    How she spends her day off

    My time off is time for family and friends. My husband and I love hanging out with our daughter – going to the park, the Liberty Science Center, the library, and getting away for a short weekend trip whenever we can. I also definitely love a good girls’ night out – wine, good food and conversation with my closest friends is like food for my soul.

    Advice?

    Talk to as many people as possible. I think I’ve met more people in the last year than the 10 previous years combined, but through these introductions and conversations, I’ve learned a ton about the industry, met new vendors, and had chance encounters that have led to meaningful business relationships.

    On what she loves about Hoboken + Jersey City

    I’ve lived in Jersey City since April Fools Day 2012. We moved here from Chicago, and I don’t think we’ll ever leave! Naming my favorite restaurant is such a hard one because there are so many good choices. Some of my favorites are: Porta and Razza for pizza, Warehouse Café for avocado toast, and Agostino’s for Italian. As far as shopping, I’m guilty of resorting to doing the bulk of my shopping online because I just have not had time to get out of the house!

    You know, I’m so bad at favorite questions – I can never pick just one thing! Some of the things I love about Hoboken are: the water – I love to go for a walk along the Hudson to clear my mind and it’s great for the views, the people watching, and I find the water to be super calming. The people – we’ve met so many great young families and people in Hoboken. And the location – I love that we are so close to the city but to get to enjoy such a friendly small town.

    About her favorite place to workout in Hudson County

    Definitely Powerhouse Pilates. The owners, Risa + Morwen, are amazing! They’re so invested in their clients, are so patient, and I get a great workout every time I go to class. For a good calorie burn, I love CycleBar in Hoboken.

    A few recommendations for where to take friends from out of town

    My friends and I love a good dinner and wine – a couple of our favorites for that are Satis Bistro, Anthony David’s and Bin 14. I feel like everything I’ve wished for lately has come to JC + Hoboken! I wanted great ramen, and enter Ani Ramen. I wanted convenient spinning and CycleBar came along. I’m pretty happy right now, I must say!

    Want to be featured or nominate someone for as an upcoming Hoboken Girl of the Week? Email hello@hobokengirl.com about your story!


    Written by:

    Michele mostly writes about her two favorite things - people and food. Though she’s been a Jersey girl since her mother danced on a chair at a Bruce Springsteen concert while 8-months pregnant, Michele’s life is anything but basic. During the day, she's a payroll specialist for small + local businesses, but on the nights and weekends, she's trying new places to write about and stopping for snacks along the way {so it's a good thing she's a marathoner and soccer player}. Aside from adding to her already extensive collection of throw pillows, Michele enjoys a good beer, nachos, and chillin’ with her kitties, Bo and Samson.


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