Judy Wicks has been recognized as one of the world’s most ‘fascinating’ entrepreneurs, for putting in place and modeling progressive business practices.  Her aim has been to create an economic system that will respect and protect the earth.

In 1983, Wicks founded the White Dog Cafe on the first floor of her house on a row of Victorian brownstones in West Philadelphia.  After helping to save her block from demolition to make way for a proposed mall, she grew what began as a tiny muffin shop into a 200-seat restaurant featuring fresh local food with a national reputation for community involvement, environmental stewardship, responsible business practices, and leadership in the local economy movement.  In 2009, she sold the company through a unique exit strategy that preserves White Dog’s sustainable business practices and maintains local, independent ownership.

Under Wick’s leadership, White Dog purchased sustainably grown produce from local family farmers for over 20 years, and developed policies to purchase only humanely and naturally raised meat, poultry and eggs, as well as sustainably harvested fish, and fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Other sustainable business practices she implemented at White Dog include recycling and composting, solar hot water, eco-friendly soaps and office supplies, and purchasing 100% of electricity from renewable sources, the first business in Pennsylvania to do so.

Looking for a vehicle to spread the farm purchasing practices of the White Dog Cafe to other restaurants, Judy Wicks founded Fair Food, which is now an independent non-profit with numerous programs to connect local family farms with the urban marketplace. Both Fair Food and Sustainable Business Network were incubated at the White Dog Cafe Foundation and supported by the restaurant’s profits. In her retail career, Wicks was founder and owner of Black Cat, which featured locally made and fair trade gifts for 20 years. In 1970, she co-founded the Free People's Store, now well known as Urban Outfitters.

An international leader and speaker in the local living economies movement, she is co-founder, in 2001, of the nationwide Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), now comprised of 80 local business networks in towns and cities across the US and Canada. She also founded the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, the local BALLE affiliate, now with over 500 members.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>