Meet Ericka, our co-founder – Zippy Pantry

Meet Ericka, our co-founder

Hey everybody, I’m Ericka, also one of the co-founders of the Zippy Pantry.

I grew up the pickiest eater in one of the best food destinations in the world, Houston, Texas. In the land of gulf seafood, Tex-Mex, soul food, pho, and barbecue, I always went for mac and cheese and chicken fingers. Every. Single. Time. Thank goodness tastes change.

But there was one category of food I never shied away from – sweets! Coming from a family of amazing home cooks and bakers, I was comfortable in the kitchen and behind a stand mixer from a young age. For the women in my family, baking was another way to say “I love you”. For me, it was a creative and meditative outlet: the cloudy haze of flour going into a measuring cup, the gentle sound of sugar hitting the bottom of a bowl, and the elastic feeling of the dough beneath my palms. The best part was the joy that came with sharing the fruits of my labor with family and friends.  

Childhood through adolescence were filled with nana’s peach cobbler, dad’s breakfast house special, and mom’s tortilla soup. I always looked forward to meals at home, going out to restaurants, or big family gatherings. They were always as much about the people as the food itself and I saw repeatedly how food could bring everyone together and create so much joy.

When I got to college (Alexa and I are both Georgetown grads, btw- go Hoyas!), I gave little thought to how my food habits would change. But during that time, farm to table and clean eating were rising in our collective consciousness, Gwyneth Paltrow released another cookbook, the dining hall food was way too salty, and I ended up in a dorm community that loved to cook. We planned floor dinners and always had a collective pantry, eager to share different brands to try and give each other cooking tips. I felt inspired to go beyond sugar and flour; I wanted to make nourishing and delicious meals for myself and my friends. That turned into a love for hosting and bringing people together, an interest in nutrition, and an open-mindedness to try new dishes and ingredients that stays with me today.

Then COVID hit, we all went into quarantine, and my cooking habits were forced to change.

I spent the first few weeks cooking constantly, filling my freezer with baked goods and soups, browsing cooking blogs, but also being stressed going to the grocery store. The endless recipes I was seeing online were a stark contrast to the often bare shelves, and I was struck how the term “pantry staples” seemed to mean so many different things for everyone (I wish I had the pantry space to make pomegranate molasses a staple, maybe if I ever leave NYC…) As I picked through what was left of the big-name boxed pasta and jarred sauces, it was clear that pantry foods were vital in surviving these trying times, but I wished I could see the fun and interesting brands that were all over my feed.

There had to be a way to discover these new nutritious, delicious pantry foods in one place.

I mentioned this to my friend Alexa, co-founder of the Zippy Pantry, and she had similar frustrations. An entrepreneur herself, she had already been thinking about creating a co-op of brands that came together on a single platform so that consumers could discover them, while spotlighting independent makers and championing their stories.

We quickly aligned on pantry goods as the focus of our project and knew we wanted to highlight brands that not only made nourishing foods, but made them fun and celebrated their beauty- a concept we went on to define as “joyfully functional”.

The Zippy Pantry is a new kind of community for functional pantry foods – one that’s inviting, trustworthy, inventive, smart and fun. We’re here to empower your lifestyle and be a mode for you to discover the brands that will inspire you to do your thing, your way.

Welcome to the community – we’re thrilled that you’re here.