Made in Orlando, Loved Around the Globe: Companies with HQs in Central Florida
Every once and a while, I hear someone say, “There aren’t any cool brands based in Orlando.” Heck, sometimes I even say it. But the lie detector test determined that was a lie! (Brownie points to anyone that got that reference.)
And while Disney often runs the show for representing our complex and diverse community, there is so much more be told about The City Beautiful. With the help of my amazing Facebook crew, I’ve compiled a list of companies — not all — just some that I admire, think are interesting, and do business with.
So whether you’re looking for an internship, a job, or just one more reason to love Orlando — this list has got you covered.
Wondermade - HQ: Sanford | There are many cool words that can describe the whimsical marshmallow, ice cream, and hot cocoa food magic that happen at Wondermade. If you’re into homemade sweets and fun ice cream flavors like cornbread — this will be your new favorite spot. Thankfully, they have locations in Sanford and downtown Orlando located inside of the Downtown Credo in North Quarter. This husband-and-wife duo is the real deal!
T.G. Lee Dairy - HQ: The Milk District | We all know I’m not a dairy consumer, but I think it’s really cool that this 94-year-old company is based right here in our city. I’m always in the Milk District — often called the Almond Milk District — and it never ceases to amazing that this huge company that produced the milk that I used to drink in primary school is right here.
Red Lobster - HQ: Downtown Orlando | Man, my relationship with Red Lobster dates way back to my childhood years. It was our celebratory restaurant of choice. My mom would pack us into the car, and we’d walk in and marvel at the lobsters, and then order the same exact meal we always got! It’s kind of cool that the HQ is now located directly across the street from my office.
Darden - HQ: Southwest Orlando | Talk about a force to reckon with in the food game. Love it or not, Darden restaurants are everywhere and they seem to be holding on during the ever-changing food game. It has eight brands under its umbrella, such as Eddie V’s, Season’s 52, Olive Garden, and The Capital Grille.
Tijuana Flats - HQ: Maitland | I’ll just start off with telling you that I love the beans and rice from Tijuana Flats! I find myself eating from here whenever I’m at a conference at Full Sail University, and I’m always so pleased. Be right back — gotta tell my hubby that we’re going for lunch there today!
O’Dang Hummus - HQ: Orlando | In 2013, Jesse Wolfe founded O’Dang Hummus during his Christmas Break, while attending UCF. After hustling hard at farmers’ market, he went on ‘Shark Tank’ and became a nationwide hit! Support him and his company by purchasing a bottle of salad dressing today!
Currently taking over the world - Brands that have big things poppin’!
Hawkers Asian Street Fare - HQ: Downtown Orlando | Four words: Roti for the win! Founded by four UCF college buddies turned entrepreneurs, Hakwers is often known as the go-to spot for Asian street fare. Everything is made from scratch — from the soup dumplings served at brunch in Windermere to the cocktails with fun names like “I Got 5 on It.” Whether you’re looking for a place to order take out or for cool happy hour spot, Hawkers doesn’t fail! Locations are currently open in Mills 50 (Orlando), Windermere, St. Pete, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville, and Charlotte. Construction and plans are in motion for Atlanta, Delray Beach, Bethesda, and Nashville.
C’mon, you know I had to do it.
Major Snacks - HQ: Orlando | I’d be playing myself if I didn't include my own company in here. We aren’t there yet, but I’m in faith that I’ll be sharing my amazing popcorn (Eat Project Pop) and snacks with the world in the years to come. Outlets like Essence, Well + Good, and INSIDER show love and I’m beyond grateful. I’m still pushing, praying, and pursuing! Go buy a bag or two online today!
Serveware + Supplies
CORKCICLE. - HQ: Ivanhoe Village | One word: Swoon. I’m literally obsessed with this company. The colors, the quality, the juxtaposition in the spreads they shoot, the commitment to community and adventure — all make a proud CORKCICLE. user. I bought my very first one on eBay because I couldn’t afford the full price back then. Soon after I was gifted with a beautiful peach canteen by my friend, Dana Marie Roquemore of The Dinner Party Project. And now I’m blessed to know the Kim Devitt, who heads up marketing and PR for the brand and does the best job at it! Get yourself a CORKCICLE. today!
Rifle Paper Co. - HQ: Hannibal Square/Winter Park | Sheesh… there have been many seasons in my life that Rifle Paper Co. has gotten all of my money. The aprons, the prints, the keychains — it’s all for me. I have a standard in our home, which is that we only use Rifle Paper Co. cards. Crazy, huh? The co-founder, Anna Rifle Bond, happens to live among us right here in Central Florida with her hubby and beautiful children. I don’t know her personally, but I’m sure she splits time in between here NYC, where she has another office.
Tupperware - HQ: Southwest Orlando | It was a total shock to me when I found out that Tupperware is based in Orlando. As I sat down to write this story, I had to ask myself if I had ever really owned a true piece of Tupperware — not a knock-off brand — but Tupperware. The truth is that I never have, which is a little sad. (That will change very soon.) But, I love what they do, and I’m so pleased to see that the company is still thriving since its inception in 1946!
Tech + Such
Fattmerchant - HQ: Downtown Orlando | This company is a force. The easiest way to explain Fattmerchant is a processing company that simplifies payment processing. Trust me, they provide so many other services, but if you have a business, you should definitely head over to the site to learn more. It’s also a great place to consider applying to if you’re into tech and analytics.
UBreakiFix - HQ: Downtown Orlando | I’ve unfortunately had to use this company. #DroppedMyiPhone The repair company was founded in a living room in 2009, and it now has more than 300 stores spanning the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. I love companies like this because they offer more affordable services for when you find yourself in a bad tech situation, and provide employment for those that love to tinker and problem solve.
AAA - HQ: Heathrow | I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard someone ask if anyone has a AAA membership when their car breakdowns. AAA is such a clutch membership to have. Whether you’re stranded on the side of I-4 or in need of a hotel discount during vacation, AAA has your back!
Planet Hollywood - HQ: Southwest Orlando | Dining, resorts, a dash of glitz =Planet Hollywood! The next time you’re at Disney Springs in Orlando, stop by for dessert and be ready to share because they are huge!
Golf Channel - HQ: Southwest Orlando | I don’t even have to explain what the Golf Channel is. It’s cool that this company is based here, as it offers up so many opportunities for golf-enthusiasts to work in the industry that they love.
Had to do it again…
Studio 17 TV - HQ: College Park | Walter Phuego and his team are extremely talented storytellers that have made the commitment to constantly create excellent work. Podcasts, brand videos, social media content, and more — Studio 17 TV is the company to call! I’m feeling like expansion is on the horizon.
Let me know which Orlando-based companies you love most, and be sure to share any that you believe I should add!
P.S. I know. You’re thinking that I forgot about the Orlando Magic, University of Central Florida, and etc. I didn’t. I simply desired to highlight places that people might not have known about. XO