Twenty years ago, Michele Hoskins had left her husband, moved her family back home and was producing pancake syrup in her parents' basement. At first, she made just a little at a time to sell locally to markets in the African-American community in the Chicago area.
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•Faith. "My basis and foundation has always been God. My mom told me to turn to Him because we had to have someone to rely on other than other people."
•Helping others. She started a national mentoring program, From Recipe to Retail, to help people get great recipes such as cake and jerk chicken to market.
•Her ancestor's gift. Through it all, she carries a great deal of respect for the gift that was passed down.
"It's ironic that the legacy started by a slave woman, my ancestor, would help liberate me," she says.
"My great-great-grandmother was calling out to me. It's like she reached out from the past and said, 'I have been waiting for someone to realize that this is more than a recipe.' "
•Leaving a legacy for her three daughters and granddaughter. Hoskins took advantage of programs that encouraged and supported minority- and female-owned companies, rode the wave of expansion of these types of businesses in the late 1980s and early 1990s and gradually built a network of colleagues who assisted and supported her.
For Hoskins, becoming an entrepreneur was "the only game in town."
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