Meet the Black Woman Who Created Patti Labelle's Pies, She's an HBCU Grad

Kinna Thomas

Patti Labelle did not create her infamous pies that are sold at Walmart. Kinna Thomas, a proud HBCU graduate of Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, created the pies. That's right! Kinna is the mastermind behind the beloved Patti Labelle Sweet Potato Pie which has become a viral sensation and a bestseller in Walmart stores nationwide for more than 8 years now.

Up until 2020, Kinna held various positions at Walmart including Senior Buying Manager and Merchandising Director and her job was to ensure top-notch bakery products reach over 4,500 store locations.

She honed her leadership skills and embraced the values of collaboration and confidence while in college, she told HBCU Pulse. Kinna furthered her education with two Master's degrees from Webster University. Her education laid the foundation for her remarkable career trajectory.

Starting out as a buyer of fine jewelry, her focus on quality and customer satisfaction smoothly transitioned into the food industry. She has since garnered several prestigious awards, including the Buyer of the Year for Walmart Stores, Inc., and has been featured in numerous publications and media outlets.

Reflecting on her partnership with Patti LaBelle, Kinna highlights the rapid development from idea to reality. Despite the unexpected cultural phenomenon, she remains focused on delivering quality products that resonate with customers.

"I'm not worried about who knows my name. I am concerned about having my team of people deliver great quality foods and brands relevant to the customer experience at the best value possible. The only recognition that matters to me is helping the customer. The rest of that stuff will take care of itself," Kinna said.

Kinna aims to inspire others through speaking engagements and business conferences, sharing her experiences and insights. Her focus remains on purpose-driven opportunities that contribute to business growth and development.

After working at Walmart, she went on to work at Target for almost three years as a Senior Executive of Merchandising but is now working as the Vice President of Merchandising Operations and Business Development at CVS Health.

Be sure to follow Kinna Thomas on Instagram @TheRealKinna

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