Aricka Westbrooks

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President & CEO, Jive Turkey
Brooklyn, N.Y. Age: 35

Though she started her career in public relations and communications, a labor of love caused Aricka Westbrooks to establish Jive Turkey, the one-year-old fried turkey outlet in New York. “I discovered the marvels of fried turkey in my back yard,” says Westbrooks, who admits she loves to cook. She attributes her success to her parents, who encouraged her education.

Encouraged by her parents to pursue higher education, Westbrooks earned a B.A. in journalism from Howard University in 1992 and an M.Sc. in mass communication from Iowa State University two years later. She worked as a public relations coordinator at Chanel Inc. and went on to hold public relations positions at other firms before branching out on her own in the food industry.

As president and CEO of Jive Turkey, Westbrooks has put her experience in public relations to maximum use. She has driven a successful marketing campaign to gain the company national coverage on such television stations and programs as The Food Network, Fox & Friends, NY1 and Inside Edition. Despite her success, Westbrooks still takes a hands-on approach to her business. More often than not she can be found donning an apron at the store in Brooklyn.

Given the time and money, Westbrooks says she would like to mentor and inspire African-American women and support them in achieving their business goals. However, she is quick to point out that success does not come easy. “I would advise young people who aspire to be successful in business to get an education, even if it is not in business” she says.

Some may find the unique nature of her business intimidating, but it is that very uniqueness that inspired her, Westbrooks says. “I wanted to bring the Southern favorite to New Yorkers because most do not have the big back yards needed to fry turkey,” she says. Jive Turkey has catered for, among other luminaries, the New York Yankees, the Major League Baseball team. Westbrooks plans to open up a second store and, eventually, even offer franchising.