CHICAGO — Foxtrot, dubbed a “modern convenience store” operator, is launching its second annual Up & Comers awards to amplify female food entrepreneurs. The initiative underscores Foxtrot’s commitment to increasing the number of women-led brands on its shelves by 50% in the next year.

Brand owners and leaders may apply through April 4. Submissions of all genders will be accepted; however, two prizes will be reserved for women-led businesses. Winning brands will be sold in Foxtrot stores and online at for at least one business quarter. Additionally, Foxtrot has committed to donating $200,000 in funding and marketing support to the winners.  

Founded in 2014, Foxtrot debuted as a digital-only delivery service highlighting local and emerging food brands. The company has since opened more than a dozen locations in Chicago, Dallas and Washington, and plans to expand in existing markets and new cities, including Boston and Austin, Texas, this year. Each store offers rapid delivery and five-minute pickup. The company also introduced Foxtrot Anywhere, a national shipping platform.

“Our Up & Comers program embodies what we do at Foxtrot every day — discovering small makers who are just as passionate about food as we are, and bringing their delicious and best-in-class products to our customers to enjoy,” said Carla Dunham, chief marketing officer at Foxtrot. “We’re committed to making our shelves reflect the customers we serve and continuing to support small makers everywhere. Up & Comers is designed to open the door for the countless entrepreneurs, and specifically women and BIPOC-founded brands, who don’t have access to the resources to grow their business. We’re excited about the growth we have ahead as a company, and we want to use our momentum to support these talented makers.”

Launched last year, Up & Comers received more than 900 submissions from local businesses and emerging food entrepreneurs. Thirty-five new brands, including Omsom, Mumgry, Ruby and Deux, joined Foxtrot’s shelves as a result. Only 10% of applicants were women but accounted for more than half of award finalists.

Less than a third of all small businesses or franchises in the United States are owned by women, and two-thirds of female entrepreneurs say they face significant challenges in securing funding, according to Foxtrot. By providing on-shelf visibility and access to capital, Foxtrot aims to empower female-founded startups. Foxtrot said it carries more than 100 women-owned brands representing more than 450 total stock-keeping units.

Judging the awards is a group of female founders and tastemakers, including Marguerite Zabar Mariscal, chief executive officer of Momofuku; Elly Truesdell, founder and managing partner of New Fare; Vanessa Pham, co-founder of Omsom; Kerry Diamond, founder of Cherry Bombe; Christina Tosi, founder of Milk Bar; Samah Dada, cookbook author and influencer; Sana Javeri Kadri, founder of Diaspora Co.; Alexis Nelson, founder of Black Forager; Summer Johnson, co-founder of Zach & Zoe Honey; Kristen Kish, cookbook author and chef at Arlo Grey; Melanie Masarin, founder of Ghia; and Sicily Sierra, chef and entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs may learn more and apply at