This HBCU grad is the creator of the beloved Patti Labelle Sweet Potato Pie

Abu Mubarik June 07, 2024
Photo via HBCU Pulse

Kinna Thomas is a former Senior Buying Manager (Director) for Cakes and Pies at Walmart Stores, Inc. While at Walmart, she led a team of professionals to bring quality bakery products to over 4,500 store locations, according to HBCU Pulse.

Her outstanding role in retail saw her crowned with the prestigious honor of Buyer of the Year for Walmart Stores, Inc in 2017. Also, she was nominated for the honor in 2015 & 2016.  Prior to working for Walmart Stores, she worked at JCPenney. At Walmart, she started as a buyer of fine jewelry before switching to the bakery area.

“I was a buyer for the fine jewelry department prior to this role,” she told HBCU Pulse while still working at Walmart. “This led me to become focused on the customer and quality, so it was an easy transition to the food business.”

Thomas, who had always wanted to be an entrepreneur, became the creator of the popular Patti Labelle Sweet Potato Pie, which has become a bestseller in Walmart stores nationwide for more than 8 years now.

“I googled and reached out to gain credibility on this idea’ to make the sweet potato pie a good one like I’d grown up eating,” she said of how she started working with music legend Patti Labelle. “Within 9 hours, I was on the phone with her team and within 4 months, we were on the shelf. I called and her team answered. “

She continued: “There was certainly a gap in the market place that’s now been filled. I couldn’t be more proud of that and all the people who still work every day to make that pie a reality.”

“I’m not worried about who knows my name. I am concerned about having my team of people delivering great quality foods and brands relevant to the customer experience at the best VALUE possible.”

Thomas is a proud graduate of Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, where she learned to be confident and become a good team player and collaborator, she told HBCU Pulse.

She got her Bachelor’s degree in Business from Lane College in Jackson, TN, and got initiated into Beta Chi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. during her matriculation, allowing her to hone her leadership skills.

She also received two Masters Degrees from Webster University, where she graduated with a Master of Arts in Management and a Masters of Business Administration.

She draws a direct correlation between her HBCU experience at Lane College and her success.

“I’m humbled but not ashamed to say that I’m successful. I’m confident because of the diverse challenges faced at Lane and engagement with my peers,” she told HBCU Pulse.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 7, 2024

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