Health Team

Raleigh entrepreneur turns food insecurity into business opportunity

Rebecca Holmes, the owner of Ello Raw - a vegan dessert business - escaped food insecurity as a child and is now thriving.

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Dominique Moody / WRAL-UNC Fellow 2017
RALEIGH, N.C. — It’s hard to develop a sense of health at an early age. It’s even harder if you come from a family with no sense of healthy living, or if you don’t know where your next meal will come from.
Rebecca Holmes, the owner of Ello Raw – a vegan dessert business – escaped those conditions and is now thriving.

“There were times when we just didn’t have enough money to make ends meet and we would go to shelters, with these bags of food, and a lot of processed things,” she said.

With a new mindset, Holmes was determined to get good grades, and eventually she was offered scholarships to help pay her way through Duke University.

While in college, she switched majors and channeled her struggles early in life into learning more about what food is made of.

She decided to create her own business after going through a few entrepreneur programs which allowed her to pinpoint the struggles hungry children go through.

“It’s really important to provide resources for kids who go through food insecurities, and a lot of families don’t know what food insecurities really are or where to go to find out information about food insecurities,” Holmes said.

Rebecca knows firsthand about food insecurities.

“We sometimes forget this is happening in our communities, and in our backyard,” she said.

Across the U.S., 42.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children. In North Carolina, 1 in every 4 children suffer from food insecurities.

It wasn’t always easy. Holmes had to live in her car to save enough funds to build her company, but she picked up great friends like Jared Childs, an owner of a men’s clothing company.

“Becky has motivated me in so many ways, and every time she would go through a setback, she had persistence, and perseverance,” he said.

Ello Raw has a series of healthy treats, packed with a few ingredients like dates, nuts and spices. Customers can try doughnuts flavored with cinnamon sugar or chocolate chip cookie dough.

The raw vegan dessert business is off to a tasty start. The products can be bought online, or in Raleigh at HQ Raleigh and Runologie. Currently, Holmes is in talks to put her products on the shelves of Whole Foods across the country as well.


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