Published On: Tue, Feb 15th, 2022

A mother wanted her daughter to have allergy-friendly cookies. She was rejected by 86 investors before finding success.


Denise Woodard knows rejection when it comes to getting investors for her business — it’s happened at least 86 times. 

“I took it pretty personal,” Woodard told CBS News. 

But her mission was personal, too. Years ago, her baby, Vivienne, ate a snack and ended up in the emergency room. Woodard found out her daughter was allergic to corn. 

“I realized that life-threatening food allergies are just that — they’re life threatening —  and that I needed to come up with a solution to make her life a little easier,” she said. 

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Denise Woodard and her daughter Vivienne. 

CBS News


Her daughter is one of an estimated 5.6 million children in the U.S. with a food allergy, according to a report.  

In 2016, Woodard launched Partake Foods, a line of allergy-friendly cookies, so that children with allergies wouldn’t feel left out. But the company struggled until Woodard, the daughter of Black and Korean parents, connected with Black investors, including Rihanna and Jay-Z’s venture capital fund. 

Today, 8,000 retailers nationwide carry her products. 

What does Woodard hope her daughter learns from watching her? “The fact that she thinks that’s normal and that it’s OK and can be celebrated is what I hope for her,” she said. 



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