James believes creating more access is key for the industry to attract diverse talent. It starts with the basics. In 2019, she launched Own Your Funk, a brand for cheese lovers. The brand offers tastings and trainings in Baltimore, Maryland, New York City, as well as New Her stores across England.
James is also Professor of Curriculum Development for the Cheese Culture Coalition (CCC), a nonprofit founded in 2020 by black cheesemonger Roberts. Roberts’ love of cheese began eight years ago when he was standing behind his counter at Whole Foods. market. In 2017, she became a Certified Cheese Her Professional, working on a farm in Central Texas and teaching cheese classes at Austin’s shop Antonelli’s.
Over the course of her career, Roberts, like James, was often the only person of color to attend her jobs or meetings. I wanted an answer as to why people who look like they are so poorly represented in an industry I love. She “knew that to bring about change, we had to start by making cheese accessible to marginalized communities, so she founded the CCC to increase cheese equity through education.” did.”
The Coalition’s Cheese Education Program targets school-age educational settings in underrepresented communities. Volunteers and representatives come directly to students to teach them about cheese, deepen their understanding of the industry, and learn how to get involved in ways that lead to their ultimate careers.
“I’m happy to expose a racial divide that some people in the cheese world never thought about and that people want to help, but it’s a huge pressure that I didn’t expect. She explained, When it shouldn’t be allowed.”