Elizabeth Bennett, the founder of Fruitcycle
, hasn't slowed down since her company won the audience favorite award at MessHall's Launch Pad competition
at the end of September. Her company has been blossoming: Fruitcycle apple snacks are now available in six stores in the D.C. area, Bennett had her own pop-up event in November and she recently hired her first employee. She has also launched a second product in the Fruitcycle line—apple butter.
"It's been full speed ahead," Bennett says. "Launch Pad was an amazing catalyst. I had all of that momentum, so I just kept going."
Fruitcycle is a social enterprise; Bennett visits orchards to glean or buy "seconds," or apples that normally wouldn't be sold to wholesalers, retailers or the public. She then dehydrates and spices them, and packages them into a healthy snack. Bennett estimates that she has recovered more than 2,000 pounds of apples since launching Fruitcycle in earnest at the beginning of October—apples that would have otherwise been thrown away.
Another way Fruitcycle puts social good in the center of its business? Its hiring practices. "[My first employee] was referred to me by Together We Bake
," a workforce training program for underserved women who have been convicted of a nonviolent crime. Bennett is also working with N Street Village
, a community providing service for homeless and low-income women in the D.C. area. "I've interviewed a few candidates from N Street," she says, "but I won't be making a decision until early next year."
She's too busy keeping up with orders and popping-up at area markets, including the Heurich House Museum Christkindlmarkt
in Dupont this weekend. Bennett is also selling Fruitcycle snacks at Union Market through the final weekend in December along with other Mess Hall residents, including True Tonics
, Wanderlust Coffee Roasters
, Cajun Meets Asian
, Goldilocks Goodies
, Junius Cold-Brew Coffee
, and Buttercream Bakeshop
. "We're all going through the same thing," Bennett says, "except for Tiffany [founder of Buttercream, and former pastry chef at Birch and Barley
]. She has more experience than all of us put together."
Fruitcycle apple snacks are available at Glen's Garden Market
, Each Peach
, Pleasant Pops
, Sticky Fingers Bakery
, Hill's Kitchen
in Eastern Market and at the Chevy Chase Supermarket