Just a few months after our last conversation, Emily Harspter of SugarBear Cville is back on the podcast to give us the latest updates about the progress of her ice cream brand.
It’s truly an adventure, she says, to be a one-woman team who has now grown the brand by partnering with seven individual businesses. But it’s a rollercoaster ride worthy to be enjoyed nonetheless.
In this sweet conversation, Emily will take us on her journey of growing her good food brand, what she is currently doing, and what she is planning next. SugarBear Cville’s story is also a great testament to how significant your community is in growing your business.
Virginia Foodie Essentials:
- I feel like I figured out a few systems and other things that are going to allow me to grow and aim for this next phase with a little bit more intention. - Emily Harpster
- I had this idea to build out a brand that was really a platform for showing off local stuff. - Emily Harpster
- [The photographs] sent me down this rabbit hole of realizing I could focus on taking pictures of strong, beautiful people, doing interesting things in and around Charlottesville, and use the tiny light I have to shine a light on their work and what they're up to. - Emily Harpster
- These are just unbelievable people doing great things. And I want to celebrate that—some are more visible in the community and people know about it, while some are the kind of quiet thing that doesn't get celebrated as much but is still really incredible. And so I would love to diversify and build out that roster and make it really inclusive, interesting, and engaging. - Emily Harpster
Key Points From This Episode:
- A catch-up session to update how SugarBear is doing so far from its launch in 2022 and the initial conversation with the VA Foodie in June.
- SugarBear has been able to establish organic relationships to collaborate with seven individual businesses, in part thanks to Charlottesville’s tight-knit local food community.
- Production as a one-woman team with seven ice cream outlets is a wild adventure, so figuring out a system that works is vital to the growth of the brand.
- Charlottesville’s tight-knit community has also allowed SugarBear to easily find a supply of local ingredients even as the demand for the ice cream has increased.
- After trying out 63 different flavors during her first season, SugarBear is now moving to a curated list of flavors. Having a huge variety of flavor offerings, though, has helped in the company’s market research.
- SugarBear’s website is still reflecting the changes happening to this small business. The plan, however, is to update the site with beautiful marketing photos of Charlottesville’s locals in an attempt to weave SugarBear into the community and to highlight the beautiful and interesting work and life of the townsmen.
- SugarBear has a growing list of wholesale partners: coffee shops, cafes, and wineries, and from here, the ice cream brand is looking for interesting partnerships that are strategically sustainable on both ends.
- The next step for the business involves strategizing for these areas: Branding, packaging, marketing, social media, and partnerships.
More About the Guest:
Emily Harpster is the owner of SugarBear Cville, a very new, very fun, and very local ice cream brand out of Charlottesville, Virginia. They make ice cream from scratch featuring central Virginia ingredients.
Connect with Emily Harpster/SugarBear:
Follow The Virginia Foodie here:
Note: We use AI transcription so there may be some inaccuracies
[00:00:00] Emily Harpster: I just would like to see each of the next five years be a place of growth, not necessarily empire building, more like just deepening connections to the community as well. I think that would be really meaningful and a sign of success for me.
[00:00:17] Georgiana Dearing: Welcome to the Regina Foodie Podcast, where we lift the lid on the craft food industry and tell the stories behind the good food, good people, and good brands that you know and love.
[00:00:29] Georgiana Dearing: If you've ever come across a yummy food brand and wondered how did they do that? How did they turn that recipe into a successful business? Then we've got some stories for you.
[00:00:43] Georgiana Dearing: Hey, foodie fans. Welcome to the podcast. I'm George Dearing, founder of VA Foodie, and I provide marketing strategy and coaching for craft food brands. Today I'm speaking with Emily Harpster of Sugar Bear Seaville. This is the second installment of a project that I am affectionately calling my year in ice cream.
[00:01:05] Georgiana Dearing: Emily owns a very small startup of ice cream brand in Charlottesville, Virginia, and she has graciously agreed to let me speak with her throughout her first year so she can share progress reports on what it's like to open a small craft food business. In the first episode, number 58, we focused on the whys and the hows of Sugar Bear Seaville.
[00:01:29] Georgiana Dearing: She talked about what prompted her to start the business, the origin of the brand name and the cute company mascot, and how landing her first wholesale account with Mary Beth Caty impacted those first few months of business. You should go back and give it a listen if you haven't yet, but it's fall now and Emily has made it through the summer months of peak ice cream season.
[00:01:52] Georgiana Dearing: She shares her recent success. She now has seven wholesale accounts and some unique brand partnerships that she's made along the way. And she tells us what it's really like to manage a product line that spanned 63 unique flavor. And of course we touch on her marketing challenges. That is a lot we covered.
[00:02:13] Georgiana Dearing: So let's just dive in.
[00:02:21] Georgiana Dearing: Emily, welcome back to the podcast. I'm so glad that you're here and that I didn't scare you off, and it's great. Thank you for joining me, but for people who haven't met you before, could you do a quick introduction and then we'll do our catch up? Sure. So my name is Emily
[00:02:38] Emily Harpster: Harpster. I am the owner of Sugar Bear Ice Cream, which is a small batch ice cream company that launched out of Charlottesville, Virginia in Spring 2022.
[00:02:47] Emily Harpster: I've made it through my first summer, so this is really good time. Actually, I feel like this is the first week where I've had a chance to catch my breath a little bit, but yeah, sugar Bear made it to seven locations around Charlottesville this summer, so I'm wholesale focused. You can buy ice cream sandwiches.
[00:03:06] Emily Harpster: and single serve containers throughout the area, and the flavors have been changing up weekly, and the idea is to showcase local ingredients, so stuff that's either made here or grown here.
[00:03:18] Georgiana Dearing: Oh, that was a great introduction, a great explanation of your company. So you're a guest today because I had this crazy idea to follow a startup brand throughout a whole year, and I've been calling it my year in ice cream, and you graciously agreed to be the Guinea pig for this little miniseries that I'm doing.
[00:03:38] Georgiana Dearing: So thank you for coming back.
[00:03:40] Emily Harpster: Course. I love this idea and I've loved listening to podcasts like this, so I'm happy to.
[00:03:47] Georgiana Dearing: Thank. Oh, good, good. So I wanna do a little catch up. You caught my eye because you were a brand that went right into wholesale sales, which is not always the way craft brands start. And our last conversation was very early days, and so you were still pulling your website together and making those relationships and figuring out production.
[00:04:11] Georgiana Dearing: And we did a little conversation about the why and the how of your brand. But today I wanted to catch up and just say, okay, so you got him and you got started. You were in Mariette and you had a few of those relationships, but wow, seven, seven companies. How did that come about? It
[00:04:30] Emily Harpster: happened organically. I think one of the things about Charlottesville's A, it's a small city and everybody knows each other, and so I think we're just kind of spread and people were incredibly gracious and kind.
[00:04:41] Emily Harpster: And have honestly been really sweet about reaching out and trying to support a new business as it gets going. And so I feel like I have been really lucky and some of the collaborations with the individual businesses have been a ton of fun. And so it's been a really creative and interesting summer getting to meet lots of new people, which was kind of what I was hoping I was signing up for, but I didn't know for sure
[00:05:05] Emily Harpster: So, yeah, it's been really great. And actually the growth took me a little bit By surprise, I mean, you never know. Mm-hmm. one of these things, you never know exactly how things are gonna go and what you're signing up for. But yeah, it kind of took root quickly and I actually had to kind of hit the pause button a little bit toward the end of the summer cuz I felt like I was a little bit maxed out to tell you the truth.
[00:05:24] Emily Harpster: As far as what one person could do, and I'm picking things back up again. I feel like I've figured out a few systems and other things that are gonna allow me to grow and aim for this next phase with a little bit more intention. So I'm excited for this
[00:05:36] Georgiana Dearing: part. Well, that's something that I wanted to talk about a little bit because I know that you're a one woman brand right now, and I think when we talked last time, you had quickly realized you needed to get larger equipment so that you could make a bigger volume.
[00:05:51] Georgiana Dearing: With seven outlets for your ice cream, what has production been like for you? Oh my
[00:05:58] Emily Harpster: goodness, , it's been an adventure. I think I kind of figured out how to work out the kinks, and then you think you have a system and you get going. I sort of would come up with the flavor list over the weekend, email everybody on Monday.
[00:06:13] Emily Harpster: everybody would get back with their order on Tuesdays and I'd deliver on Fridays and most weeks that worked pretty well. But then of course there are those weeks where like there was this one week I showed up to work and I opened the freezer. It was Friday, it was a delivery day, and I just have this chest freezer and I opened it and I took out the first container of ice cream and it was completely melted.
[00:06:32] Georgiana Dearing: Oh no,
[00:06:34] Emily Harpster: no. So lesson learned. My advice to other ice cream entrepreneurs is buy a wifi enabled center for your freezer. Make sure it's connected to your phone, that you get an alert. So there have been little bumps in the road like that and had to pay my Covid tax in mid-August. Of course, I'd managed to avoid it for quite some time, and then,
[00:06:55] Georgiana Dearing: oh, I was like, oh, really?
[00:06:57] Georgiana Dearing: This week .
[00:06:59] Emily Harpster: Overall production has been good. It's been a lot of fun sourcing the ingredients. It's been a fun way to get to know a lot of people.
[00:07:06] Georgiana Dearing: Yeah. So I'm curious, as you ramp up production, how has the supply of your local ingredients, how has that worked out? That's been
[00:07:15] Emily Harpster: pretty good. I've actually had more challenges sourcing pack things like packaging and sanitizer,
[00:07:24] Emily Harpster: Like ingredients have, right? Yeah. It's just kind of goofy, but ingredients have been no problem. And I think one of the nice things about working in food is, especially as you get to know people, there's this nice kind of collaborative like, Hey, do you want any nectarines? Hey, I have some blueberries, like lots of back and forth sort of trading and offering ingredients.
[00:07:44] Emily Harpster: So yeah.
[00:07:45] Georgiana Dearing: Where do you find your ingredients? Do you farmers market it or do you have connections? It's kind
[00:07:51] Emily Harpster: of a mix of things. I'll say that there's this one company called Four P Foods that brings me my jewelry each week. I could not have done this without them. They've been amazing and they've helped me track down things like local Mint when I needed it or wanted to play with it a little bit before.
[00:08:08] Emily Harpster: It was available here in Charlesville, but there was some for Richmond so I could kind of test and refine the recipe. And they've just been an incredible resource. And then two, sometimes there's kind of a one-off. There's a local farm here called Beller Farm. They do wholesale stuff and they're also right by my house, so I've been able to run over a time or two.
[00:08:26] Emily Harpster: They had papa's one day and that was very exciting. Ran over there and grabbed those. And then there's a partner that I work with called Jam, according to Daniel, and he makes jam. He has, as you might imagine, great access to the seconds network of fruit. Okay. Yeah. Because he can take fruit when it's still really good, but not in perfect shiny condition.
[00:08:46] Emily Harpster: And so that works for me too. With ice cream, we've gone back and forth a few times. . Yeah. Stuff like that has come up as well. Well,
[00:08:54] Georgiana Dearing: you touched on several things in there, but I'm gonna back up to where you said that you need to source ingredients when you're playing with flavors, cuz that was one of my questions you couldn't possibly be like, Oh, I've got nectarines today.
[00:09:09] Georgiana Dearing: Let me make nectarine ice cream. , right? .
[00:09:12] Emily Harpster: Yeah. So I sat down earlier this week and did a tally, and I think over the course of the summer I did 63 different
[00:09:21] Georgiana Dearing: flavors, which is, oh my goodness, .
[00:09:23] Emily Harpster: It's a lot. So in the Pros column, it was a wonderful way to be creative and also to test the market to see what moves the quickest, who does a repeat order on what flavor.
[00:09:34] Emily Harpster: In that sense, it was very helpful In the cons column, it was very challenging to source all of that stuff. Efficiently in a timely way. And so I do think I made it sort of unnecessarily hard on myself, , .
[00:09:49] Georgiana Dearing: And uh,
[00:09:50] Emily Harpster: I'm excited cuz the sort of the program and vision was, okay, I'll test a bunch of flavors and narrow it down.
[00:09:55] Emily Harpster: And now I'm at the point where I did an analysis earlier this week too to see what I had sold the most of and that kind of thing. And I'm sort of ready to start shifting gears to a much more curated list of flavor. And to start to direct, uh, creative energies elsewhere.
[00:10:10] Georgiana Dearing: Yes, a product line with 63 different entries is huge.
[00:10:15] Georgiana Dearing: That's a huge thing to manage. And yeah,
[00:10:17] Emily Harpster: I mean, the labeling alone, it was, in hindsight, it's one of those things, in hindsight, I'm like, I could have made this quite a bit easier, but it was also a lot of fun. So, yeah, I
[00:10:28] Georgiana Dearing: don't know. Trade off. Well, you learned a lot, right? I think learned a lot to me. The market research in there sounds great.
[00:10:36] Georgiana Dearing: You learned a lot about your audience. Yes,
[00:10:40] Emily Harpster: I did learn a ton. It was very, very interesting and very helpful. I feel like I'm going into the shorter list with a high degree of confidence that I'm
[00:10:50] Georgiana Dearing: not sure I would have. I'll have to ask, how did the papa go? It was interesting. , ,
[00:10:57] Emily Harpster: I think it's like a very polarized, it's one of those flavors that's polarizing.
[00:11:02] Emily Harpster: I think people kind of love it or hate it, and a lot of people are intrigued with the idea of trying a new flavor or in a new format. Sometimes people have had the fruit, but not necessarily as an ice cream. It was a fun novel. So
[00:11:15] Georgiana Dearing: when you think about your product plan, you said a curated list, do you think you're going to do certain set of standbys year round?
[00:11:23] Georgiana Dearing: Yes.
[00:11:24] Emily Harpster: Yeah, I think I'll do a certain set of standbys year round, and then I'll still do seasonal flavors or specials that kind of rotate through. I anticipate that that's gonna be the program for a little bit.
[00:11:36] Georgiana Dearing: Mm. And as you bring in a seasonal flavor, do you think you'll change them up weekly or will you
[00:11:41] Emily Harpster: No, it'll probably be, for example, the holidays are coming up somehow , or at least holiday planning is upon us.
[00:11:49] Emily Harpster: Oh, absolutely.
[00:11:50] Georgiana Dearing: I talk about the holidays starting in July. . So you're knee deep in ice cream then. But yeah, we start talking about in July, so the holidays are. So the holidays are coming,
[00:11:59] Emily Harpster: and I think I'll probably do kind of a holiday ice cream program that'll run through November and December with the idea that people are probably gonna be interested in things like stocking up for holiday meals and visiting family, and are gonna want more flavors that pair with things like pies.
[00:12:15] Emily Harpster: Oh, okay. Mm-hmm. .
[00:12:16] Georgiana Dearing: So I'll
[00:12:17] Emily Harpster: probably try to have fun in that space more than weekly is sort of a long answer, I guess more than
[00:12:22] Georgiana Dearing: weekly. More than weekly, but as we said seasonally, so it would probably follow the season of what's available and what flavors are expected and things like that. Yeah. First of all, that was great , but so I saw that you have made a few changes on your website, little updates here and there.
[00:12:42] Georgiana Dearing: What's going on with your market? That
[00:12:45] Emily Harpster: is a great question and the website is very high on my list of, there are so many things that I wanna add to the website that I just hadn't had a chance to get to yet, but just this week actually took some more beautiful marketing photos, thanks to a very talented local photographer.
[00:13:04] Emily Harpster: and I'm working on sort of building out not just the pictures of the ice cream, but also the idea that I had going into this was to build out a brand that was really a platform for showing off local stuff. And so, mm-hmm. trying to weave that into the website a little bit more and into the photography a little bit more.
[00:13:21] Emily Harpster: We took some pictures of things, you know, sort of started to think about. We took our first round of pictures and I looked at the one that I liked the best, which was this great shot of this woman Sydnee holding ice cream. And I started to think about, well, what do I like about this picture? And it sent me down this rabbit hole of realizing, oh, I could focus on taking pictures of strong, beautiful people doing interesting things in and around Charlottesville.
[00:13:45] Emily Harpster: Use the tiny light. I have to shine a light on their work and what they're up to. And so things like that are on the radar as far as marketing, just kind of figuring out how to creatively weave together this narrative about things that are happening in Charlottesville and in particular, sort of beautiful, joyful things since that's what ice cream is really, to me, is what that is about.
[00:14:05] Emily Harpster: And so I'm also starting to have a little bit more time on the marketing front to do more partnerships and more. I got so busy, to be honest, with just filling the wholesale orders during the summer that I didn't have a ton of time to do things like the farmer's market or other kinds of pop-up events.
[00:14:23] Emily Harpster: I did a few here and there, but I just really didn't have a lot of time, and so I think that there will be this. Short window here in September and October when I can get out there and really work on building up my relationships a little bit more. And the other thing that I think I'll focus on as far as marketing goes is actually building out the roster of wholesale clients or customers.
[00:14:43] Emily Harpster: I sort of see it as, it's almost like a relay summer. Got really busy, falls gonna get a little inventory, I think are gonna get a little bit quiet. I can build up the list and build up the capacity so that when things ramp up next spring and summer, I'll be ready to mm-hmm. that increased demand. And so those are the kinds of things that are on the radar as far as marketing
[00:15:03] Georgiana Dearing: goes.
[00:15:04] Georgiana Dearing: Mm-hmm. , we talked briefly about the website. You talked about photography. Do you see yourself as investing in a professional photographer? Yes. Like always, or
[00:15:15] Emily Harpster: No? Not. Because I know that there are these things that are gonna come up, publications gonna reach out and want a picture of fill in the blank.
[00:15:23] Emily Harpster: And I may or may not have that. Mm-hmm. . And I also wanna build out sort of the library of things that I have to draw from for social media, which is another thing that's definitely on my radar that I need to sort of level up and ramp up. And I think to do that well, I will need a pretty big bank of photos to draw from.
[00:15:39] Emily Harpster: Mm-hmm. and especially as, evolve over the fall and winter, and I do seasonal specials, for example. Like I don't necessarily see it making practical sense to hire a photographer every
[00:15:49] Georgiana Dearing: single time. Mm-hmm. , one of the tips that I give people is when you do that first investment in a photographer, capture as much as you possibly can and then repurpose what you've paid for.
[00:16:00] Georgiana Dearing: You don't have to, over the course of a year, you don't have to have a new photo. In social media in particular is really what I'm speaking. You don't have to have a new picture every single post for a brand. You can rotate things in.
[00:16:20] Georgiana Dearing: Yeah. Yes. The other thing I thought was interesting when you're speaking about photography is capturing local stuff, which as I recall in our last conversation, I asked you about the vision for your brand. Mm-hmm. , and one of the things you said is you wanted to see Sugar Bear just woven into the community.
[00:16:38] Georgiana Dearing: And so that idea of capturing what's happening in your community just falls right in line with that?
[00:16:46] Emily Harpster: Yes. Yeah, I mean, honestly, this is one of the parts of the business that is the most fun. So for example, the women that I've taken pictures of so far, one of 'em is uh, student athlete who's doing this really great stuff with a local organization called Sister Fit.
[00:17:01] Emily Harpster: Another is the pediatric I C U doctor, who's, I mean, these are just unbelievable people doing great things and I. To celebrate that. And some of it is more visible out in the community and people know about it. And some of it is the kind of quiet thing that doesn't get celebrated as much, but is still really incredible.
[00:17:18] Emily Harpster: And so I would love to kind of diversify and build out that roster and make it really inclusive and interesting and engaging. And I'm really looking forward to that piece of the equation and sort of figuring that out and thinking through that a little bit more over the course
[00:17:32] Georgiana Dearing: of the. Yeah, that's like another whole bucket of content that you are gonna have to figure out how to fill with resources and your resources.
[00:17:43] Georgiana Dearing: That's a lot. But at this point, for a, a one woman show, but it's doable. It's very doable. If, if you have an idea, yeah. And it's top of mind. If you're out there engaging in your community, July is gonna be a terrible time for you. But highly, highly recommend pre-planning your marketing content. Later is a great tool for pushing content ahead of the game.
[00:18:04] Georgiana Dearing: And of course I'm always coaching on scheduling, so. Absolutely. So you also talked about growing your retail roster. So can you talk a little bit about that? Who's your best fit?
[00:18:17] Emily Harpster: Interesting cuz I've got kind of an array right now of wholesale customers who are sort of interested in this from different angles.
[00:18:25] Emily Harpster: And so I've been trying to think through what's the strategy as far as the next step, who do I wanna focus in on? So to make that a little bit more concrete, I have a few more like coffee shop type places or bakeries who are interested in things like vanilla for a Gatos. And that would be a very fairly easy thing to scale up.
[00:18:42] Emily Harpster: Making lots of vanilla and focusing on coffee shops and that kind of thing. On the one. On the other hand, it would likely not be tremendous. It would be a lot of deliveries and probably not a lot of volume. So that's something to consider as I think about that space. Another type of partnership that's been really fun.
[00:18:58] Emily Harpster: So I've been working with Eastwood, farm and Winery, and they grow lots of stuff at the winery, not just grapes. So they've got blueberries, they've got basil, they've got. And they've been really interested in using their ingredients to make particular flavors that they sell out of their tasting room as like a snack to go along with wine.
[00:19:16] Emily Harpster: And we did a really fun event over the summer where we came up with a wine and ice cream tasting menu where people could try different wines, different ice creams, and we came up with pairings and that was really a lot of fun. And I can see, mm-hmm. on the one hand, doing something like that in multiple places.
[00:19:32] Emily Harpster: On the other hand, I do think that scaling that as I get more customers is gonna be tricky. I would love to add a few more higher volume customers, so places like grocery stores I think, or little markets, could be really great to focus in on as the next piece of the mm-hmm. equation. Mm-hmm. . And so I have a list of a few places that I think I'm gonna start reaching out to and bringing samples to and that kind of thing.
[00:19:58] Emily Harpster: We'll see how it.
[00:19:59] Georgiana Dearing: So those are wholesale accounts and they're kind of two different kinds. If you are talking to your coffee shop and AGA customers, you're not going to be packing in pints for them. Mm-hmm. . So you're gonna be doing bigger runs, bigger volume. Mm-hmm. , and they're gonna need to have storage base if they're not already keeping a freezer in the coffee.
[00:20:23] Georgiana Dearing: So that's one thing. And then the winery also sounds like they want their own flavors that are unique to them. Or is this something where you would co-brand as you deliver pints to other places? If I'm
[00:20:37] Emily Harpster: understanding you correctly, it would be more co-branding. So when I bring Eastwood the ice cream, it's got the Sugar Bear label on it, and then I always try to call out my local whatever ingredients are in that flavor under.
[00:20:48] Emily Harpster: the Sugar Bear name. So it'll say Sugar Bear at the top, Eastwood farm and featuring Mint from Eastwood Farm and Winery underneath the flavor name.
[00:20:56] Georgiana Dearing: Okay, and so that means that the flavor that you work out with them, you could also sell to other outlets?
[00:21:03] Emily Harpster: Yeah, it is a nice branding opportunity for them. So for example, from Eastwood, I also sold that flavor in Marie bed.
[00:21:09] Emily Harpster: Oh, okay.
[00:21:10] Georgiana Dearing: Yeah. All right, so that's kind of using your network and sort of connecting your community back to each other.
[00:21:16] Emily Harpster: Yeah. I think that's part of the vision is to hope to be able to just do exactly that. Yeah. Mm-hmm. .
[00:21:21] Georgiana Dearing: And so I just wanted to clarify, you're also doing ice cream sandwiches. Are those packed one-offs and they're sold one at a time?
[00:21:29] Georgiana Dearing: Mm-hmm. . And is that also just the Bauer Bird macaroni, or are there other baked things? Sandwiching your ice cream. It's
[00:21:37] Emily Harpster: just the Bowerbird macaroni. Mm-hmm. for now. I sort of went in agnostic about like, oh, we'll see if people like ice cream sandwiches. And people are really, really, really into the , the macro cream
[00:21:48] Georgiana Dearing: sandwiches.
[00:21:48] Georgiana Dearing: So, no, it just sounds delightful. And actually, I was looking at your Instagram account and this picture. Of the chocolate chocolatey looking one has amazing people like it. I'm just are very into that. Yeah. people are very into that, so that's good that, yeah. Yeah. So then the other flip there is those are sort of like the Gado example for coffee shops is a straight up food service account, or you're providing them something that they're putting on their menu.
[00:22:19] Georgiana Dearing: The winery is a sort of partnership, a brand partner. and then getting into markets is a retail channel, which is gonna have its whole host of the wholesale price on PIs, but you're already doing that. That's where you started, which was selling them wholesale so that Mary Beth could sell them and get their piece of it because it's their customers, their shop.
[00:22:42] Georgiana Dearing: They're bringing the people in to make that purchase. I mean, they're all very related. It's just a little bit of a brain bend, like, okay, what are we really doing? , . I wanna go back to the winery one more time and say, okay, so the winery, you're making pints with their brand on them, but are you delivering them the, like a food service volume so that they're scooping it there?
[00:23:07] Georgiana Dearing: Or are they just putting pints? No,
[00:23:09] Emily Harpster: I'm delivering them in little single serve contain. So when somebody orders ice cream at the winery in the tasting room, what gets brought out to them is a little sugar bear container that they can eat on the spot. It has the sugar Bear label, but it says that it has ingredients from Eastwood on it as well.
[00:23:24] Emily Harpster: Oh wow.
[00:23:25] Georgiana Dearing: So that's a totally different kind of packaging, right? Yeah. Wow. Okay. That's inventory to keep track of . Yes. I could see why your packaging has been a little bit crazy. . Yeah,
[00:23:36] Emily Harpster: it's been, the packaging has been a thing. Definitely. What
[00:23:40] Georgiana Dearing: are your next steps for you? What are your next steps for the business?
[00:23:44] Georgiana Dearing: You said you've got this gap point. Very specifically, what are you gonna do next week and next month? Yeah,
[00:23:50] Emily Harpster: so I've got this little window where production is not occupying every waking hour, and so I am grabbing it to work on things like marketing, social media, the. Partnerships, that type of thing. I'm gonna grab it to work on things like packaging.
[00:24:06] Emily Harpster: I definitely know that there are some opportunities there, not only to improve the packaging, just how it looks. It's very much been startup packaging all summer, but also just to make it a little bit more efficient and professional and streamlined and less crazy making. I do love my person that helps me make the labels
[00:24:24] Emily Harpster: She's. We don't need to see each other three times a week . So working on that I think will be really helpful. I'm also gonna really hone in on like, okay, I've got my curated list of flavors. Now let's make sure each of those recipes is exactly perfect and replicable and consistent, and just really get that dialed in.
[00:24:48] Emily Harpster: So I would say that those are gonna be the areas of focus for the next probably month or. We'll see how it
[00:24:55] Georgiana Dearing: goes. I have a question about your labels. Are you handwriting the flavors on or are you imprinting the flavor printing?
[00:25:03] Emily Harpster: So I was printing them at home for a while and that quickly got away from me.
[00:25:07] Emily Harpster: I couldn't make that many labels, and so I started out sourcing it to a local printer. And so I'll make the labels and just email 'em over and they get 'em all ready to go and I just dash in and pick 'em up and bring '
[00:25:19] Georgiana Dearing: em back to the. Oh, okay. Because I do have a couple small brands that have like a thermal label and they'll print the blanks.
[00:25:27] Georgiana Dearing: Yeah. Uh, commercially. And then they have a thermal printer where they just type in the flavor and spit them out per,
[00:25:33] Emily Harpster: yeah. I looked at thermal printers actually. I was thinking about going that route. And that's one thing that's on my list to revisit this. I think I just was so busy with production that it was one of those things that just kind of I set to the side for a minute.
[00:25:48] Georgiana Dearing: Yeah. Then you have to figure out what is the most profitable way of going about it if you're spending too much time managing a printer to make sure it's not jamming or something like
[00:25:58] Emily Harpster: Right. Yeah. Where I got too early in the summer, I was like, I cannot be spending this much time figuring out the printer cartridge situation.
[00:26:04] Georgiana Dearing: So yeah, streamlining your product line though will help with that relationship with your printer. Definitely,
[00:26:12] Emily Harpster: definitely. That's, I figure out too how to just make it sort of more beautiful. I think it would be fun to incorporate local art and things like that. We'll see what happens. I got a lot to figure
[00:26:22] Georgiana Dearing: out on that front.
[00:26:23] Georgiana Dearing: Wow. Okay. There's a lot of ideas in there. Yes. So I wanna ask you, I asked you last time, where did you see your company five years from now? So I'm just gonna ask again, where do you see the company now, five years from now? What does that vision look? It's interesting
[00:26:39] Emily Harpster: because sort of the same as before, I would like to see it become a part of the community, a place that people associate with happy moments and happy memories.
[00:26:49] Emily Harpster: And I think that where I am now, I'm off to the races. My goal was to get things open and get going this summer, and I think five years from now, I just would like to see each of the next five years be a place of growth. Not necessarily empire building, more like just deepening connections to the community as well.
[00:27:08] Emily Harpster: I think that would be really meaningful and a sign of success for me.
[00:27:13] Georgiana Dearing: You don't mention people in that vision? Mm-hmm. . Do you see having a staff helping? Yes. , I
[00:27:19] Emily Harpster: think I'm do that at some point. I mean, people are absolutely a part of the vision. That sort of community is what this is all about for me.
[00:27:27] Emily Harpster: Mm-hmm. in a lot of. . And of course the people that make the ice cream are a part of that as well. I haven't really figured out that
[00:27:32] Georgiana Dearing: piece yet. Okay, good. And just You worried me for a little bit. really sorted it. . There's a point where you just can't do it all. . Yeah, there is that
[00:27:42] Emily Harpster: point. There's definitely been a few times a somewhere I'm like, this is not sustainable
[00:27:47] Emily Harpster: But I sort of knew that there was gonna go like that too. So I just need to kind of backfill and figure out what's the plan. Yeah. And when does that make.
[00:27:55] Georgiana Dearing: Wow. Could you tell people those seven locations where they could pick up your ice cream? Sure. I would love to.
[00:28:03] Emily Harpster: You can buy Sugar Bear at Marie Vet at Petite Marie.
[00:28:07] Emily Harpster: Vet at Bauer Bird Bake. Shop at Greenwood Grocery. At Feast Eastwood Farm and Winery and at VTE Spirits, their downtown tasting. Well, that's
[00:28:19] Georgiana Dearing: great. That's a lovely list. I wanted you to say them all because it's a good, that's a lot of good growth in that very first quarter. That's crazy. So, congratulations.
[00:28:28] Georgiana Dearing: Thank you. Thank you,
[00:28:29] Emily Harpster: thank you, thank you. I really appreciate it. I mean, that roster, I gotta tell you, people are amazing. The businesses in this town, what people have built, it's been an honor.
[00:28:38] Georgiana Dearing: Well, thank you for honoring me with your presence and sharing your story. I really enjoyed it. I think our listeners are gonna like it, and I look forward to talking to you again in another three months or so.
[00:28:50] Georgiana Dearing: Same to you. Thank you for the opportunity. I really appreciate it. I sure enjoyed talking with you, Emily. And if you, dear listeners, have enjoyed the episode, please like it, share it, and subscribe to the podcast. Thanks for listening. And if you wanna learn more about how to grow your own food brand, then click on Grow My firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:29:12] Georgiana Dearing: If you're a lover of local food, then be sure to follow us. We are at VA Foodie on Instagram, Facebook, and. Join the conversation and tell us about your adventures with good food, good people, and good brands.