For wife-and-husband entrepreneurial team Jilea and Jamie Michael Hemmings, getting into the food industry wasn’t just a way to make a living; the impetus was born out of a more personal necessity.
The pair learned about the importance of their son’s diet when he was diagnosed with autism. “As we started to help him eat well we started to come up with ways to help other kids eat well too, by taking a traditional kids meal and making a healthy twist to it,” Jilea Hemmings shared over a phone interview with What Now Atlanta. In their first product, Greenie Tots, the pair used plant-based meats to replace traditional proteins in quick, healthy kids meals.
With the opening of the “first Black-owned autonomous grocery store in the world,” Nourish + Bloom Market, the pair is expanding their reach.
“Our mission is to give you the best of the best in every category…you can count on the fact that anything sold at Nourish + Bloom will be real food,” Hemmings said. Products carried in Nourish + Bloom won’t have lengthy lists of ingredients that sound a lot like the components of a science experiment, and the company gives preference to craft, local brands. “No GMO’s or High Fructose Corn Syrup Allowed!!!” declares the company’s website.
Nourish + Bloom opened in Trilith at the end of January, providing 24/7 access to the community.
What makes this shop so unique, though, is its emphasis on technology. Shoppers use the Nourish + Bloom app to enter the store, and weighted shelves and cameras detect which items they’ve chosen. There are even a couple of bots hanging around to help out, named Nourish and Bloom, who also provide delivery.
“For us, it was about increasing access no matter what your situation is,” Hemmings said, and that’s where the grocery store’s technology comes in.
“COVID changed everything for everyone, right?…a lot of folks are looking for contactless-solutions, touchless-solutions and not having to be in large crowds,” she explained. “An autonomous grocery store fits right in within the needs of where we are today, as well as where we’re going in the future….the technology we’ve employed is about increasing access.” Accompanying the groceries is a modest café on site, where you can find grab-and-go items like coffee and other bites.
Now that the first Nourish + Bloom is up and running, the owners are looking ahead to future sites.
“We definitely want Atlanta to be our home and our base,” Hemmings says, and she and her husband plan to open the next couple of stores right here in town. They are currently looking at the BeltLine and Centennial Yards as next possible locations.
To learn more or to start shopping, find Nourish + Bloom online.