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Recap: Meijer Roadmap to Retail 2024

We had an exciting kickoff to the week in Milwaukee at Meijer's Roadmap to Retail event on Monday and walked away feeling pumped for the future of diversity and inclusion in retail.

Meijer Supplier Diversity Manager Kavy Lenon (also of ZINI Vodka) gave the keynote speech, where she emphasized the necessary steps for brands like Soldadera to secure shelf space in Meijer stores, starting from market format stores to broader regional and eventually full Midwest distribution.

We also got insightful and inspirational speeches from Dr. Eve Hall, President & CEO of the Greater Milwaukee Urban League; Bobby Warren, Director of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Southeast Wisconsin; and Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

The event's highlight was a panel discussion featuring entrepreneurs such as Soldadera's very own Mario Rodrigues, as well as Lauren Koston of Pork King Good, Marcus Leslie of Mr. Leslie's Cheesecakes, and Genevieve Vang of Thai Feast.

Soldadera Coffee's brand was prominently featured on stage, which is a testament to our brand's growing influence and our commitment to diversity in the retail space.

Mario during the discussion emphasized the importance of team building, product iteration and process adherence. 

Genevieve shared the journey of her brand in the retail space. A Detroit chef and restaurant owner, Genevieve created Thai Feast to share quick and healthful Thai recipes and sell vegan and gluten-free seasoning mixes.

Mario of Soldadera joins a discussion panel with  Marcus Leslie of Mr. Leslie's Cheesecakes, Lauren Koston of Pork King Good and Genevieve Vang of Thai Feast

Lauren focused on carving out her own retail space without looking at the competition. Her Milwaukee startup, Pork King Good, seeks to fill a gap in the market for low carb and high protein snacks with a line of all-natural, preservative free pork rinds.

Marcus's Lansing business, Mr. Leslie's Cheesecakes is born from a childhood love for baking and over 10 years of mastering cheesecake recipes in his own home. He shared personal struggles, including the loss of a parent, to growing his business.

The panel discussion and personal stories provided valuable insights into the entrepreneurial journey, emphasizing resilience, innovation and strategic partnerships.

Directors from Wisconsin Meijer Super Centers also surprised attendees with the opportunity to pitch their products in two-minute sessions. This unexpected chance left many entrepreneurs, including us, feeling warm and optimistic about future retail opportunities.

"Roadmap to Retail" is not only a platform for learning and networking but also a significant moment for Soldadera Coffee to shine among peers and potential retail partners. As we continue to navigate the retail landscape, the insights and connections gained from this event will undoubtedly fuel our strategies and efforts in the market.


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