Snack company Yumday curates from mission-driven makers
In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, LIA BALLENTINE was living and working in Austin, Texas, when she decided there was no time like the present to change things up. Having worked in corporate communications for two decades, she was ready for a new direction, and snacks were her first way toward finding it.
Yumday is a snack subscription business born out of Ballentine’s love of snacks and storytelling, coupled with her desire to support companies owned and led by women and people of color.
As a Filipino American, Ballentine began with her desire to learn more about food holidays, researching foods of different cultures. From that experience, she learned about many unsung heroes of the food industry and decided to help celebrate and share them with Yumday customers.
“I always looked at food as a connection point,” Ballentine shares. “As an immigrant kid in America, I would try out new foods from neighbors, and my mom would make a meal to showcase our culture.”
With so many people stuck at home and craving comfort, the pandemic turned out to be an ideal time for Ballentine’s idea to take shape.
“There was no other time to do it but then,” she says. “I discovered products founded by women and people of color and I launched a website and – with a little push – I got going and put it out there into the world.”
In the first month of operation, Ballentine sold “a whole six boxes,” but the business started to take off more soon after, with companies sending snack boxes to employees during lockdowns. That’s when, as Ballentine says, “Everything grew and exploded.”
Born in the Philippines, Ballentine has lived across the United States, working in upper-level creative positions for companies such as 20th Century Studios and Sony Pictures. With Yumday, though, Ballentine has had the freedom to make Wilmington home. Ballentine’s sister and her new family live, so making the move to the East Coast was an easy choice.
“My sister and her husband had a baby last year, and he is my first nephew, so I couldn’t stand the thought of not being close enough to hang out with him,” Ballentine shares.
Ballentine moved the headquarters of Yumday to 225 South Water Street in Chandler’s Wharf and decided to open a brick-and-mortar store as part of her vision of collaborating and supporting other mission-minded organizations.
Exposed brick and industrial metal provide a unique backdrop for the whimsical warmth of the specially-curated Yumday. The snack subscription business’s home base was designed by Ballentine, its “Chief Snack Officer,” whose vision is one of empowerment and delight.
“This is my first foray into a physical brick-and-mortar shop, but I want to continue to keep going and see where it leads,” Ballentine says.
With a cozy couch that overlooks an array of snacks and gifts as well as cookbooks and T-shirts, Yumday features a wide collection of goods all curated with careful consideration by Ballentine.
For the subscription service, she curates each snack box that Yumday offers to fit the size and schedule that works for each customer. Clients receive new and different snacks created by companies with unique missions.
Yumday’s clients now include large corporations such as Meta and Intuit, who share the snack boxes as gifts to clients and employees, but Ballentine hopes to reach locals and travelers alike who make their way through the shop.
“My general love of storytelling is a lot about people and community; food and snacks is a fun way to do it. I am still telling a story and building a business for myself in a space that I enjoy, which is food,” she says.
Within that space, Ballentine plans to connect with other businesses and people who share in her vision to create an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance as well as support those who do so.
Each month, the curation changes within the subscription service and within the store, but there is always a variety of goodies that includes founder and brand values that Ballentine shares and, of course, wholesome delicious snacks.
“I changed the way I shop to support small businesses and people who are doing good – incredible women and persons of color,” Ballentine says. “I just started with my personal interests, and it grew from there.”
Yumday is currently open Thursdays-Saturdays 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Ballentine plans to add soon an extra day in the shop, which is always open online at yumday.co.
To view more of photographer Megan Deitz’s work, go to megandeitz.com.
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