Nicole Bernard Dawes is a truly remarkable woman. At a young age, she strode into a crowded snack marketplace holding fast to a dream—and strong ideals—only to find roadblock after roadblock in her path.

At a time when organic and non-GMO were still anomalies in the center of the store, she broke new ground by introducing organic snacks into key categories, scrambling to find the right ingredients, with the right quality metrics, to fill production runs. When the Great Recession rocked the nation in 2007, organic snacks took a hit. Then, in 2009, immediately after the untimely death of her father—who was also her business partner—she suddenly faced the reality of a pivotal called loan, only to find a new lender at the last minute of the last hour. She fought a constant uphill battle as a female entrepreneur in an industry historically dominated by men. She gambled everything on a dream. And she made that dream come true with the successful launch of a line of premium organic tortilla chips, now the flagship products of her company, Late July Snacks.

And those are some of the best tortilla chips I’ve ever tasted.

Today, Late July Snacks—our 2018 Snack Producer of the year—is a leader in organic snacks, with revenue topping $100 million a year, and Nicole is an inspiration and mentor to other industrious, groundbreaking, entrepreneurial women across the nation.

When I interviewed Nicole for our Snack Producer of the Year feature, her time-honored wisdom easily shone through. I asked her about the keys to her success, and she replied, “You really need to be clear in your passion, understanding what you want to achieve, because that’s sometimes the only thing that’s going to help you get through.”

Her persistence has paid off, and her story is an inspiration to us all.