S2: EP5 - In Service of Food Businesses

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Sue Ellsworth (she/her), Manager of Piedmont Food Processing Center
and Founder of WE Power Food

In the food industry, facing challenges is like battling summer heat—you can’t escape it, but you can learn to thrive with the right supports. In this episode of Proofing Stage, hosts Michelle Bond and Joan Kanner explore the realities with Sue Ellsworth, Manager of Piedmont Food Processing Center and Founder of WE Power Food, about running a shared kitchen successfully.

Sue reveals how the center evolved into a 10,200 square-foot haven for 65 companies, navigating cross-contamination and overcrowding with its unique setup. She emphasizes the importance of truly serving the entrepreneurs who use the facility by championing the art of starting small, testing products at farmers’ markets, and using raw, unbiased feedback to improve them before going big on packaging and marketing.

Michelle and Joan serve up their own tales from Bottoms Up Bagels (BUB), underscoring the goldmine that is direct customer feedback and how it helped inform their product development and the overall BUB brand. Whether you are a food business owner, consumer or champion, tune in to this episode for sharp insights, practical advice, and a dose of real-world grit on fostering a thriving food business ecosystem.

Highlights include:

  • Building a community of would-be competitors
  • Navigating red tape of food entrepreneurship
  • Nitty gritty in regulations and labeling
  • Tanking two of our episode sponsors
  • Passion, vision (and an assist!) are all equally necessary
  • Long-term thinking impacts “success” and can fight food insecurity
  • Opportunity calling (but Kool Kat Sue sends them to voicemail)


Connect with Sue Ellsworth:

WE Power Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WEPowerNC

WE Power website: www.wepowerfood.org

Piedmont Food Processing Center -

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Above: WE Power Food group shot from Empowerment Conference

More on food business startups and spaces S1: EP3, Share Kitchen Confidential


Theme music by Thorn Haze

Artwork by Lisa Orye

Executive Producers, Joan Kanner and Michelle Bond

Podcast production and show notes provided by HiveCast.fm

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