Owner of South Holland-Based Syrup Business Enters Local Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame
Evan F. Moore | 10/15/2015, 1:09 p.m.
When Michele Hoskins started her syrup business in her mother’s basement 31 years ago, she had no idea that she would end up in a Chicago area hall of fame for entrepreneurship.
“I’m with a very prestigious group of individuals. I’m very proud to be an African-American woman in this group,” Hoskins says. “To be mentioned with this group can be described as a job well done. “My product has been on the shelves for 31 years.”
The Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, part of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), honored 20 local businesspeople at a gala last week at the Field Museum at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, during the institute’s 30th anniversary celebration. The new inductees are being recognized for building successful businesses and fostering a thriving economic engine in Chicago.
Hoskins, a Chatham native, has a product named “Michele’s Syrup” that comes in three flavors: Maple Crème, Honey Crème and Butter Pecan. A family recipe that was passed down to Hoskins has turned into a multimillion-dollar business that has her products in 10,000 stores nationwide, such as Kroger, Albertson’s, Jewel Foods, Publix, Safeway, and Mariano’s.
Hoskins says that she made a name for herself despite getting minimal help from people in the food industry.
“When I first started, there weren’t any mentors for me to follow in this industry,” Hoskins says. “From a business standpoint, I persevered and I believed in myself and I was excited to enter the industry I’m in.”
Nancy Harvey, the executive director of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at UIC, released a statement congratulating Hoskins and the other inductees:
“These entrepreneurs — and those that came before them — exemplify the depth, diversity and vibrancy of entrepreneurship in this great global city that is Chicago. We are privileged to recognize these men and women as icons of Chicago entrepreneurship.”
The Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame is the oldest and one of the most prestigious Chicago area entrepreneurship awards. It celebrates entrepreneurs whose contributions have had an enduring commercial and social impact; enhanced their communities; and brought transformative innovations to life. Since 1985, the hall of fame has inducted nearly 500 business people who are role models for aspiring entrepreneurs. Notable previous inductees include John H. Johnson of Johnson Publishing.
Hoskins became a force in the food industry despite being diagnosed with breast cancer survivor back in 2009. Due to her diagnosis, she is looking into the possibility of collaborating with either the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, or Sisters Network, Inc. (a national African American Breast Cancer Survivorship Organization) in a fundraising campaign.
Hoskins hopes more African-Americans would join the food industry, thereby having more command of their dollars.
“As African-Americans, we spend billions of dollars and we need to understand where we spend our money,” Hoskins says. “When you spend a dollar, leave 10 cents with the African-American community. We ought to support each other. Find out who we can spend a dollar with. “
Hoskins went on to say that African-Americans ought to look into the history of the products they consume.
“We need to go into a grocery store and ask if there is any African-American owned products. We can’t those products, we need to become entrepreneurs ourselves,” Hoskins says. “Those avenues need to be explored because I believe in generational wealth. We need to teach our children how to become wealthy by being entrepreneurs. I’m all about consumer awareness.”
Hoskins also gave advice to young people who might want to follow in her footsteps as an entrepreneur.
“Once you locate your passion and find out what it is, pursue it and be persistent. Always go by faith.”
For more information on Michele Foods, log on to http://www.michelefoods.com/index.php.