Michele Hoskins, Keynote Speaker, Trailblazer Entrepreneur
Michele Hoskins is a trailblazing entrepreneur, renowned for her exceptional journey from a single secret syrup recipe to the president of Michele Foods, a distinguished manufacturer of specialty breakfast syrups headquartered in suburban Chicago, Illinois. With her products gracing the shelves of over 8,000 stores, including major retail chains across the United States, Michele has carved a remarkable legacy of success and empowerment.
Michele's entrepreneurial odyssey commenced with a closely-guarded syrup recipe that had been passed down through generations, originating with her great-great-great grandmother, a former slave. In the early 1980s, facing the challenges of single motherhood with three young daughters and limited startup capital, Michele made the audacious decision to transform this cherished family secret into a commercial product. She sold all her possessions, relocated her family into her mother's attic, and embarked on a journey marked by determination, resilience, and unwavering commitment to her dream.
In the beginning, Michele hand-filled syrup bottles from a 55-gallon drum she formulated and had delivered to her mother's basement. She distributed these handcrafted products to local grocery stores in her neighborhood. In that same year, Michele secured partnerships with the two largest retail chains in the Chicago metropolitan area, propelling her from the basement to 40 retail stores.
Michele's journey of entrepreneurship saw her attain several historic milestones. She became the first minority supplier for Denny's and the first minority supplier for Wal-Mart. Collaborations with renowned companies such as General Mills and Sara Lee followed, cementing her place as an industry luminary.
The treasured recipe that set this remarkable journey in motion has since become known as Michele's Honey Crème Syrup, an indulgent creation that blends the richness of honey and butter. Michele's product line extends to include Michele's Butter Pecan and Maple Crème Syrups, further delighting the palates of customers.
Over her 30 years in business, Michele has achieved remarkable success, earning widespread recognition through appearances on esteemed television platforms, including CNN's Morning Show, "Personal Journey" on CNN and Discovery channels, three appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, two on CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, BET, and the Microsoft Business Summit. Her inspiring story has been featured in publications like Fortune, People, Black Enterprise, Ebony, and Essence magazines.
Michele has garnered numerous awards, including the 2002 Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Women Foodservice Forum, Black Enterprise Magazine's Emerging Company of the Year Award, The Entrepreneurial Women Award, Madam Walker Entrepreneurial Award, a Lifetime Achiever Award from Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., and an honorary doctorate from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.
In addition to her remarkable entrepreneurial journey, Michele is an accomplished author, with her book "Sweet Expectations" offering an emotionally charged and inspirational narrative of resilience, faith, and family support leading to sweet success. Her dedication to advancing minority participation in the food business led to the creation of the "From Recipe to Retail" mentoring program. This initiative has empowered over 100 individuals, helping them launch their products in retail chains across the country.
Michele Hoskins is not just an entrepreneurial success story but an embodiment of the power of determination, family, and faith to overcome adversity and achieve remarkable success. Her captivating journey continues to inspire and empower individuals and businesses around the world.