Amazon accelerator helps Cleveland woman find a Black-owned business community

Knowing it’s lonely at the top, Veronica Blue says Amazon built a network for Black-owned business leaders that is mentoring her as she eyes taking her company global.

3 min
April 8, 2024

Veronica Blue built a career in the hotel industry before going back to school to learn marketing. She was managing SEO for a major U.S. retailer based in Cleveland and working on her health, when she invented what would soon become her third career: Phenomenal Foods Co. The solopreneur’s keto-friendly hot cereals gained popularity quickly and it was everything Blue could do to stay one step ahead. It wasn’t until Blue joined Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator (BBA) that she said she found a network of peers able to mentor her through the growth phase of her small business journey.

Phenomenal Foods Co. is the product of Blue’s struggle with chronic fatigue. For 10 years, she said she was a “pin cushion,” as several doctors ran “every blood test known to man to determine a cause.” Fed up and without answers, she decided to try a ketogenic diet, cutting carbs, in an effort to lose weight and regain energy.

It worked. Blue lost 60 pounds and gained a whole new life that she credits to the diet. While playing around with recipes, she made an oatmeal replacement that was high in protein, low in carbs and completely grain- and gluten-free. It would become her flagship product, Creamy Keto Hot Cereal Original.

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Veronica Blue found a community with the BBA

Blue developed her keto-friendly recipes after work and on weekends. She calls herself “her target customer”; because she’s on the keto diet, she sees what is and isn’t on the shelves for gluten-free products. Seeing a gap in hot cereal options, Blue launched Phenomenal Foods Co. in the Amazon store in September 2021. Three months later, Phenomenal Foods was close to selling $10,000 a month in hot cereal. With her concept proven, she said, she quit her job and never looked back.

“The best part of my job now is getting the direct messages from our customers, reading the reviews. It’s just been amazing,” said Blue. “I know the frustration of being in the grocery store and not being able to find foods that meet your taste and nutritional preferences. This was something that I really felt a responsibility to bring to the market. There are millions of people who need a product like this.”

Blue said that, with Amazon, she’s able to focus on what she does best and “let Amazon do the rest.” Calling Amazon her logistics partner, she said the savings from choosing Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which handles her shipping and logistics, gives her capital to invest in other parts of her business.

“Right now, my business is me. I am the only full-time employee. It would be nearly impossible to try and manage all of the moving parts on my own,” said Blue. “As a small business owner, I get to take advantage of the cost savings that Amazon can offer their shipping partners and it has definitely helped to save money that can be reinvested into other areas of the business.”

In Phenomenal Foods Co.’s early days, Blue said she struggled with making all the business decisions on her own, as a one-woman team. “Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey,” she said. “It’s really just you working on your dream, focusing on growing your business.”


It wasn’t until she discovered Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator (BBA) that she said she realized there are others like her, going through the same thing. In 2021, Amazon launched the BBA with a four-year, $150-million commitment to help empower and drive the success of Black-owned businesses. Amazon’s BBA provides access to financial assistance, strategic business education, coaching and marketing support to help Black-owned businesses grow and maximize their selling success in Amazon’s store.

“It’s inspiring to see their growth alongside your own,” said Blue. I’ve definitely increased my village of other Black business owners. We have peer-to-peer mentoring sessions where we can share resources and have conversations about what the current challenges are in the business, any new opportunities that you found, and what tools you are using to help you grow.”

Blue said selling in the Amazon store has helped Phenomenal Foods Co. gain visibility and build credibility. She’s now partnering with Midwest grocery stores and getting ready to launch her own direct-to-consumer website. As sales continue to grow, Blue said she’s ready to take Phenomenal Foods Co. global, confident that she’ll find success with Amazon as her partner.

“Five years from now, I envision Phenomenal Foods being a multi-million-dollar organization with global reach and just continuing to grow,” she added. “We will absolutely be a household name.

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