Entertainment / Events / Food and drink / Startups

To feed DC’s food scene, one founder created a marketplace for local entreprenuers

Mackenzie Loy created the platform so food vendors can share their products with companies and corporations hosting events.

Homemade in DC is an online marketplace for food entrepreneurs. (Courtesy photo)

This editorial article is a part of Entertainment Tech Month of’s editorial calendar.

When she was living in San Francisco, founder Mackenzie Loy thought that her future would be in selling cinnamon rolls.

While looking for a creative outlet, she started selling the rolls from her apartment via Nextdoor, Instagram and Facebook. But she soon realized that baking for a business wasn’t quite for her.

“It’s really easy to start a business, but the hardest part, especially from a food business perspective, is the sales and doing the delivery and distribution beyond your own personal network,” Loy told

A few years later, after moving to DC for graduate school at Georgetown University, she wanted to help others with their own businesses and create a food incubator. Soon, though, she realized that the actual need from founders wasn’t starting a business, but growing it. So, she instead created Homemade in DC to help local food founders share their creations.

A display table with macaroons and other treats and teal printouts featuring vendor stories.

At a Homemade in DC catered event. (Courtesy photo)

Homemade in DC is an online marketplace, developed with low-code software, that does corporate catering and custom gifting. Loy, also the founder of The New Majority for equity crowdfunding, said that everything on the platform is sourced from women, people of color and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. On the 38-vendor-strong platform, companies and other event hosts can log into the marketplace and select goods from local vendors for their events.

For the buyers, the marketplace is an easy way to build up a menu of local food for their event. For founders, it helps get the word out and support an ecosystem for food entrepreneurs of various backgrounds.

“Our mission is to close the racial and gender wealth gap through food entrepreneurship,” Loy said, though she noted that Homemade in DC isn’t the only avenue for such change.

To be listed on the platform, founders will share their founding stories, favorite recipes and more info about what they’ve made. A quick onboarding process then follows. Most on the platform are cottage food entrepreneurs, although it includes a few brick and mortars. Would-be members also send certificates and insurance before starting with three-to-five food products (which Loy tries to taste before they’re put on the platform) listed on the site.

From there, hosts can pick what items they want for their event, mix and match from multiple vendors, see the final cost and place the order from Homemade’s site. Loy will often review the order to make sure that quantity hasn’t been over- or underestimated and dietary needs are met. Vendors will then get a notification about an order and decide whether or not they can accept it. On the day of, Homemade will deliver the food to the final location. Buyers will also be sent the final menu as well as the photos and stories from the vendors to display at the event.

An open cardboard box with local coffee, simple syrups, Irish shortbread cookies and more.

Homemade in DC’s 2022 holiday gift box. (Courtesy photo)

So far, Homemade has worked local events such as Georgetown’s multicultural graduation reception and just completed the Halcyon incubator. In December, it also offered a gift box with products from local entrepreneurs that companies could give to customers, partners or employees.

Since its founding a year and a half ago, Homemade hasn’t completed any funding rounds, though it did receive a grant from the city. But Loy attested to an impact on local founders — according to her, one entrepreneur was pushed into profitability for the first time with the holiday boxes, and the marketplace has helped folks keep the lights on during slow seasons.

With that in mind, she eventually hopes to expand into other cities with their own homemade marketplaces, although she’s not quite sure where the second one would be just yet. Come fall, she’d also like to make the company’s first hire, which would be a community manager.

Beyond that, she’d really like to see a profound impact and general growth from food companies in DC from diverse founders, even to the point of someone loving a product so much that they buy from a vendor directly and build up DC’s ecosystem.

“I would love to have people come through the Homemade pipeline and just shoot out into success,” Loy said.

Series: Entertainment Tech Month 2023

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