This Black woman entrepreneur is making a name for herself in the food industry and gets to do so while paying homage to her father.
Genesis Bencivenga Sr. shared the news on TikTok that Walgreens picked up her company, Lorenzo’s Frozen Pudding, for its shelves.
“Lil girl from the projects on the Southside of Chicago got her Southern-Style Frozen Pudding in Walgreens,” the CEO and co-founder wrote in the caption.
With the big win, Bencivenga made it clear that the company is far from an overnight success.
Back in 2011, she and her father, Lorenzo, launched Lorenzo’s Frozen Pudding as a way to garner a new stream of income for their family, according to Walgreens Newsroom. The hustle of selling their different flavors out of their car on the streets of their city led the brand to become a hit.
After initially making the pudding in their kitchen, they went on to a shared kitchen to adjust to selling in local Chicago retailers in 2013. Business was booming, but the duo didn’t have the means to meet their rising demand and had to step back. Then, in 2015, Bencivenga attempted to try again but her father retired.
“We weren’t selling on the street anymore because we were in about 50 stores between 2015 to 2017,” she said, according to Walgreens Newsroom. “We were handing out samples and doing demos and it caught fire just like it did before. But we couldn’t keep up with demand again. I knew we had a great product people wanted to buy, but we didn’t have the back-end infrastructure for manufacturing and distribution that we needed, so I had to shut it down again.”
When she learned from her past mistakes, Bencivenga was ready to start fresh with Lorenzo’s Frozen Pudding.
A part of her game plan was to seek help from the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) — a Chicago-based organization that works to accelerate business development and growth, especially for women and minority-owned businesses. Its Top Shelf: High Volume Growth Insights program was the gateway to Bencivenga’s business revival. In addition to corporate sponsors, the free eight-week curriculum-based program offers training and access to retail category managers and buyers.
With the support of Top Shelf, Lorenzo’s Frozen Pudding ultimately landed distribution at Walgreens.
“Top Shelf has great impact on emerging businesses and the communities we both serve, and we want it to be a win-win for everyone,” Tony Billinger, Walgreens director of supplier diversity and the company’s point person with WBDC and Top Shelf said. “New products will eventually develop new markets for us, while these businesses get access to Walgreens distribution and the possibility of national exposure.”
Despite numerous setbacks, Bencivenga is a prime example of what it looks like to never quit chasing your dreams.
“I’ve had people ask me, ‘Why didn’t you give up?’ I mean, how can I? I feel like it’s a life-or-death situation. I love what I do, I know I can do it well and I know that with persistence it will happen.”
She added: “Thank you so much, Walgreens. I can’t wait to see how far we go!”