ORLANDO, Fla. – Chauniqua Major-Louis, who goes by Major, never really liked the name of her popcorn business, Major’s Project Pop.
“For the longest time, I wanted to change the name of the brand because I thought what is a Project Pop, like what is any of that mean? I just created it one day just (because) I needed to come up with a name, so I invented that,” Major said.
It wasn’t until later it occurred to her that Major's Project Pop could mean a lot more than popcorn.
“In 2020, I was so tired, and I was just getting home from popping around 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning and I had to get up and go do something,” Major said. “And this idea came to mind when I was thinking about POP.”
She realized in that haze of exhaustion that pop could be an acronym, bringing deeper meaning to her brand.
“It means people over profits, but it also means purpose over profits,” Major said. “And what that looks like is we advocate for people before sales and money.”
Major said part of the way she realizes those ideals in the business is by using the highest quality ingredients for her vegan, organic, non-GMO popcorn.
“I could probably make an equally tasty product for a lot less and charge the same amount so that I could profit more,” she said. “I take what is called this redemptive approach to entrepreneurship, which means I lose so that others win. That means I’m not going to make as much money but you’re going to get a quality product that’s going to be better for you.”
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The quality of the snacks Major produces has always been her top priority. She wanted to make a product she would feel comfortable feeding to her own family, specifically her nieces and nephews.
“Anything that’s good enough for them is good enough for anyone else,” she said. “I wanted to create something that they could enjoy and feel that it was good — like it tastes good to them — but it wasn’t jam-packed with preservatives and ingredients that I wouldn’t even eat myself. So they’re like my litmus test. If I won’t give it to them, I won’t serve it or put it in our products.”
That commitment to producing a quality product has paid big dividends for Major, many of which came amid the calls for social justice seen during 2020.
“With the heightened awareness about systemic issues as it relates to Black and brown people in the United States and the deaths, unfortunately, that we saw all over the news — so many people were trying to figure out, ‘Where is our company? Where do we stand on these issues and how can we be better,’” she said. “So, out of that, I started to get a lot of media coverage and one day, I got an email from a vegan news outlet. They asked, could they feature me in a story? And I said, ‘Sure, OK.’ I honestly hadn’t heard of them before. They ran the story and I didn’t know that it ran and all of a sudden, like, I just started getting all these (orders). I got 1,000 orders in a day and they were from all over the country. I mean, I was not ready for that. I didn’t have a label printer to write out all that for the address, I was writing out addresses into the wee hours of the night. I mean, it was like, if I wasn’t ready, I had to be ready at that moment to quickly scale the business and get it together.”
This created business opportunities for Major's Project Pop, seeing the brand featured in magazines and allowing Major to form partnerships with Lionsgate and Netflix.
“Sometimes I don’t believe that all this is happening,” she said.
In the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Major discusses how a Christmas gift prompted her to start Major's Project Pop and how she was able to grow the business by winning a limbo contest. She also talks about her favorite flavors and how Major's Project Pop helps to support Central Florida nonprofits.
Please follow our Florida Foodie hosts on social media. You can find Candace Campos on Twitter and Facebook. Lisa Bell is also on Facebook and Twitter and you can check out her children’s book, “Norman the Watchful Gnome.”
Florida Foodie is a bi-weekly podcast from WKMG and Graham Media that takes a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it and the impact that has on us here in Florida and for everyone, everywhere. Find new episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.