Entrepreneur Unites Passion for Food and Marketing with Caribbean Cuisine Business

'You have to build your team, relinquish some control and enlist others to help you'

(Image: Andrea Ferguson)

In an ideal world, were it not for having to pay bills or buy some of the things we need, many of us would work for free at a job we love. Of course, the majority of workers don’t actually have that luxury, especially in these trying economic times. In starting Icon Food Marketing, self-proclaimed foodie Annette Davidson was able to unite her passions for food and marketing.

BlackEnterprise.com spoke with Davidson, who has worked with brands including Belcour Preserves Ltd., Grana Padano, Cheeses of France, and Thomas’ English Muffin, on her decision to start Icon Food Marketing, how she finds client synergies, and her recent role in helping budding entrepreneurs in the Caribbean.

BlackEnterprise.com: What is Icon Food Marketing and what prompted your decision to start the company? Icon Food Marketing is a boutique food marketing company that specializes in bringing new and emerging brands into the global food market. We are experts at identifying sauces, condiments, and gourmet products from coffee to breads that are ready to transition beyond the home kitchen and small batches to retailers around the world. We also help medium and large-scale brands identify niche markets for their products. I started the company after I realized that Caribbean flavors and artisanal food manufacturers were at a great disadvantage competing for consumers’ attention in the U.S. marketplace.

How did you get into marketing? After college, I enrolled in a marketing program with a concentration in international trade at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). While working on my degree at FIT, I was working for Liz Claiborne as a retail merchandise coordinator and found my passion for marketing. Throughout my travels for business and pleasure in the U.S., Australia, Japan, Jamaica, and Europe, I became a foodie” and was eventually able to unite my passions for food and marketing.

Which companies have you worked with, and do you have a specific criteria for working with the companies you do work with? I’ve worked with companies such as Belcour Preserves Ltd., Grana Padano, Cheeses of France, and Thomas’ English Muffin, to name a few. To go from being a  small business to being positioned as a global competitor often requires adjustments to the clients’ business model in order to be successful. So, my main criteria for taking on a client is that they have to be open to change. Also, we only work with brands that are passionate about their products and the people who will ultimately enjoy them.

What usually goes into your decisions when you are working with your clients? Usually, I base my decision to work with a client on how committed they are to their business. I’ve met specialty food manufacturers, and I can tell right away that even though they have been in business for three or more years, they’re still in the hobby phase.

What advice have you gotten that you would pass on to someone who is looking to be successful in their line of work? I’d share one of my favorite quotes by Mary Kay Ash, founder of MaryKay Cosmetics: “We’re in business for ourselves, but not by ourselves.”  I am a firm believer that, you have to build your team, relinquish some control and enlist others to help you.

What type of legacy would Annette Davidson like to leave behind when she is ready to “hang up the gloves?” I want my legacy to be that I was a person who wasn’t afraid of sharing her resources and information with anyone interested in becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Follow Icon Food Marketing on Twitter @IconFoodMktg.

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