A Sweet Start Up with Sugar Bear Cville Replay

A Sweet Start Up with Sugar Bear Cville Replay

One of the scariest (or bravest) things a food brand could do is go straight from a recipe idea to the shelf. No market testing or selling in a specialty store. It’s every startup’s dream - or nightmare if done poorly!

Emily Harpster of SugarBear Cville has done just that, and her story is a great opportunity to learn about a startup retail brand in the very early stages of development. In this episode we speak about some of the challenges most startup food brands face and why vision and determination play a huge role in achieving and sustaining success.

SugarBear is off to a good start, thanks to some careful plans Emily put in place for her product development. And it’s paid off so far – her ice cream quickly caught the attention of ice cream aficionados like me and other local establishments who are committed to living the good food, good people, good brand life.

Emily has graciously offered to keep us up to date with her progress as she tackles the challenge of building a strong regional brand. Listen to learn more about the behind the scenes and ups and downs of a locally sourced retail packaged food brand. It’s a rare opportunity to watch a new brand grow from it’s literal beginnings in retail, and you’ll get the inside scoop from a ringside seat.

Virginia Foodie Essentials:

  • Ice cream is a thing that really makes people happy. - Emily Harpster
  • Ice cream is a little bit disarming and really charming. A lot of times, when I share with people that I do ice cream, they want to tell me about their favorite ice cream memories or a happy story or their favorite flavor. And it's a really wonderful moment to have. - Emily Harpster
  • Wholesale offers a really interesting way to plug into the community, to listen and figure out what people want and what they're responding to. - Emily Harpster
  • When you're running a scoop shop, you're running a restaurant. It's a location, it's the interior design, it's the staffing,  and then you have to get the foot traffic. It's a whole different way to market your business. - Georgiana Dearing
  • No matter how you do it, food has very slim margins, quite frankly. Especially in the craft food arena. Ingredients are expensive and labor is a big piece of it. - Georgiana Dearing

    Key Points From This Episode:

    • Charlottesville has a growing food scene that is beginning to rival nearby Richmond, Virginia.
    • SugarBear is carried by a fan favorite over on vafoodie.com, Maribette Cafe and Petite Maribette.
    • It’s essential to connect with like-minded brands to help establish your brand.
    • Startups with an eye at grocery retail should consider SugarBear’s approach and go straight to packaged retail products bypassing farmer’s market and pop up shops.
    • Watching a new brand grow from its literal beginnings in retail is a chance to uncover answers to those burning questions: 
    • Having a clear vision and determination can shift a dream to a goal with an actionable business plan.

      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:

    • Website
    • Instagram
    • LinkedIn
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        Full Transcript:

        Note: We use AI transcription so there may be some inaccuracies

        [00:00:00] Emily Harpster: A lot of times when I will share with people that I do ice cream, they wanna tell me about their favorite ice cream memories or a happy story or their favorite flavor, and it's just a really wonderful moment to have. And so I feel really lucky to get to have a lot of those moments in my day these days.

        [00:00:17] Georgiana Dearing: Welcome to the Virginia 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. Ever come across a yummy food brand and wondered how did they do that? How did they turn that recipe into a successful business?

        [00:00:37] Georgiana Dearing: Then we've got some stories for you.

        [00:00:43] Georgiana Dearing: Hi, foodies. Welcome to the Virginia Foodie Podcast. I'm your host, George Dearing, founder of va foodie.com, and I provide marketing strategy and coaching for the craft food industry. I'm coming to you today from the Shenandoah Valley where we are now deep in the heat of July, which means it is hot and humid here in the valley, and that makes it a great month to celebrate ice cream.

        [00:01:07] Georgiana Dearing: July is National ice Cream Month, and we've been talking a lot about ice cream over on va. And today I'm kicking off a special series, which I've been calling my year in ice cream. Recently I discovered Sugar Bear Seaville, a very new, very fun and very local ice cream brand out of Charlottesville, Virginia.

        [00:01:30] Georgiana Dearing: The brand caught my attention because they're carried by a fan favorite over on VA foodie, Mary Beth Cafe, a business that is truly living the good food, good people, good brands, lifestyle. And I thought if this ice cream is in their bakery, then it's worth a closer. Owner, Emily Harpster started Sugar Bear this year and I was intrigued to see a small startup brand that went straight to retail.

        [00:01:56] Georgiana Dearing: She's not selling it in a scoop shop. She's not testing it at the farmer's market. She's making her ice cream and packaging it immediately in pints for sale on the freezer shelf it retail establishments. I reached out to Emily to find out what made her start on this venture, going straight from a recipe idea to the.

        [00:02:17] Georgiana Dearing: We had a great first conversation, so I asked if I could follow along with her over the course of her first year and discuss the challenges she will face as a new business as she encounters those challenges. I want to know what makes a startup tick, and I want to know how she's expressing her commitment to local sourcing through ice cream production.

        [00:02:38] Georgiana Dearing: I also wanna understand from the beginning what kind of choices a startup. My clients run into so many unexpected roadblocks or new things to learn that they didn't know they didn't know. Speaking to a startup as it's forming is a great way for me to learn more about the mindset of my clients, and it's a great way for you, my listeners, to learn what it takes to succeed in the craft food.

        [00:03:04] Georgiana Dearing: We had a wonderful first discussion and she's very open and sharing, and there's so much to learn in this first episode of my year in ice cream.

        [00:03:21] Georgiana Dearing: Emily, I'm so happy that you're able to join me on the podcast today, and I always put my guest right on the spot and make them introduce themselves. So could you tell our listening. Who you are and what you are about in the food world. 

        [00:03:36] Emily Harpster: Sure. Thanks so much for having me. My name is Emily Harpster and I am the owner of Sugar Bear Ice Cream.

        [00:03:42] Emily Harpster: I make premium ice cream from scratch using all Virginia ingredients, and I have been in business since April, 2022. 

        [00:03:50] Georgiana Dearing: So you're a newbie. We're recording this in June of 2022, and that is kind of the reason I reached out to you because I saw you somewhere in our Instagram account, I think it was Marie Be Cafe.

        [00:04:04] Georgiana Dearing: Mm-hmm. . And I thought, oh, look at this. Here's a new brand starting out. And she's going right into retail sales. And that's a hard one because they call scoop shops. But she's going right into packaged ice cream selling through another retailer, and I thought, oh, I would love to talk to you about your business.

        [00:04:23] Georgiana Dearing: And then I also had this crazy idea of following a startup for the first year just to see how they're coming along. And so I reached out to you and I'm so glad that you took this weird challenge of mine, , and I'm really looking forward to learning more about your business now and seeing where you. So can you talk a little bit about your sourcing?

        [00:04:48] Georgiana Dearing: You say that you source all Virginia ingredients, so what does that mean to you in the ice cream space? Yeah, 

        [00:04:55] Emily Harpster: so one of the things that I love about Virginia is we have the Shenandoah Valley. We have all of these amazing products. We have beautiful milk, we have beautiful cream, we have local dairies and produce and all kinds of things that are really fun to work with in ice.

        [00:05:10] Emily Harpster: And so I came into this knowing that I wanted to find a way to showcase all of that using ice cream as a platform. And so it took me a while to sort of line everything up because when you decide that you wanna go all local, it's, some parts are easy and some parts are not so easy. So I was really fortunate to find a supplier called four P Foods, and four P is the company that brings me my homestead, dairy, milk, and cream each week, which is what I use to make the.

        [00:05:38] Emily Harpster: And then the other stuff, I've sort of pulled together a network and pulled it in from an assortment of places. So there's a farm right down the road from my house where I got the mint. There's someone I know who knows somebody else at a farm who helped me get some strawberries. There is the fact that I am located in Marie be, which makes as many people know, absolutely incredible baked goods.

        [00:06:00] Emily Harpster: And I'm right down the street from a coffee shop at Marie be that has this incredible coffee. And so started to kind of pull together different products and play with different flavors. You know, I'm in the process of figuring out what works really well and what doesn't work so well, and what people tend to respond.

        [00:06:15] Georgiana Dearing: Well, I have to ask you, because you're doing local ingredients and you're in ice cream, and the two big sellers in the US are vanilla and chocolate. Mm-hmm. . But you're not ground in Virginia. So what happens to them in your 

        [00:06:29] Emily Harpster: brand, ? Well, so I still use vanilla. There are things that are needed for ice cream that are not possible to get in Virginia.

        [00:06:37] Emily Harpster: So vanilla is one of those things. And I also have to use pasteurized eggs. That's one of the require. For the Department of Agriculture. And then things like sugar obviously don't grow in Virginia, and so I do my best to source the ingredients that aren't grown in Virginia to source those from local businesses.

        [00:06:54] Georgiana Dearing: So, yeah. Yeah. So some of that has to do with the science of ice cream, right? Mm-hmm. , just the way that it has to work. 

        [00:07:01] Emily Harpster: Yes, yes. 

        [00:07:03] Georgiana Dearing: But when you're sourcing that vanilla in sugar, where are you getting that from? You don't have to tell me specifically, but what types are you putting? So the egg 

        [00:07:11] Emily Harpster: yolks, egg get pastries, egg yolks, and the sugar.

        [00:07:14] Emily Harpster: I just use regular old cane sugar. There are some recipes where I will make invert sugar syrup that goes in there, and I try to pick it up from local small businesses. So I've gotten it before from foods of all nations, and I've also gotten it from suppliers who are already working with Marie Bet places like chef's.

        [00:07:31] Emily Harpster: W. Oh, okay. And that basically is because I started off using the small businesses and then it got to the point with the sugar at least where I needed so much on a weekly basis that it got a little bit 

        [00:07:42] Georgiana Dearing: challenging. Well, that's a good segue into my next question, which is about your process. I have worked with a bunch of different ice cream brands and I know that there's such a thing as ice cream school.

        [00:07:53] Georgiana Dearing: Yes. And I , and I know that there are things about capacity. So can you talk a little bit about the making of your ice cream as a. Yeah, 

        [00:08:02] Emily Harpster: sure. So I started very small with a little six quart Italian machine. It's a Lelo Muo ragusa. For anyone who might be curious on how to get started. It can handle about three quarts of liquid mix at a time, which generally translates to eh 10 to 12 clients, depending on the product that you're making.

        [00:08:21] Emily Harpster: And I bought that thinking that I would be able to. With that for a while and got a little bit surprised by how quickly things took off. People really like ice cream, and I was really fortunate to be able to open in a place like Marie Beth that already has a lot of foot traffic and reputation. And so I had sort of quickly figured out, well, I'm gonna need to upgrade to a much larger machine and.

        [00:08:45] Emily Harpster: Honestly, also something I had figured out in the process of running the numbers around what was gonna make the business work and what kind of capacity was I gonna need to justify the expense of investing in all the equipment. And so I also picked up Car 5 0 2, which has a 20 quart capacity, and that translates to about eight to 12 quarts of liquid mix at a time.

        [00:09:04] Emily Harpster: And in a day comfortably, I can run three or four of those batches and each batch is, I'm gonna be able to pull out something. Like I've been doing a lot of half pints, so 30 half pints or 

        [00:09:14] Georgiana Dearing: so. Wow. So it's still all you in all making it. And where is your kitchen that you're making it in? 

        [00:09:22] Emily Harpster: So I am working out of the original kitchen at Marie Vet, which is on the lower level of their Rose Hill facility.

        [00:09:29] Emily Harpster: They outgrew the space and are mostly working in a larger production facility down the. . 

        [00:09:34] Georgiana Dearing: So you're renting space in a commercial kitchen basically? Exactly. Yeah. But with your own equipment? 

        [00:09:39] Emily Harpster: With my own equipment, yeah. And I was really lucky. You know, the thing about ice cream equipment that some people will know is that it has these very specific requirements, like three phase electricity, for example.

        [00:09:48] Emily Harpster: And so I started looking at commissary kitchens and then pretty quickly figured out that it was gonna be really tough to find a space with the power and space requirements that I really needed. And so I got really lucky that they were able to offer me a. 

        [00:10:01] Georgiana Dearing: Well, that seems like a natural fit. I mean, did you go into that space really because of the space and then they said, oh, let us put it in our freezer.

        [00:10:09] Georgiana Dearing: It was 

        [00:10:09] Emily Harpster: kind of a simultaneous, they're good friends of mine and we had been talking about it for a while and it was sort of a one thing led to another, and then it ended up being kind of a natural fit on both 

        [00:10:18] Georgiana Dearing: fronts. Oh, that sounds so fortuitous. Yeah. So this is another origin story question for you.

        [00:10:25] Georgiana Dearing: Really, it's two parts. How did you land on wanting to be an ice cream queen? How did you land on that? As what? As the work you're doing now? This is a third 

        [00:10:34] Emily Harpster: act for me. I spent about a decade as the head of program design at the United Way in the city where I moved to Charlottesville from, and then I spent a few years where my primary focus was on the kids.

        [00:10:46] Emily Harpster: I have a six year old and an eight year old, and I knew that I wanted to go back to work when my youngest started kindergarten. Covid, of course, as it did for everyone, made that equation a little bit complic. And I knew that when I went back, I was hoping to have the opportunity to build something. The thing that I really loved about my last job was the chance to build something from scratch to come up with the idea and to take it from execution all the way through scaling and refining it.

        [00:11:12] Emily Harpster: And that was an experience I really wanted to have again, and I really love ice cream, , , and I think that Charlottesville, I just thought that there was room in the. For good local ice cream. And I love to cook. It's always been something that was a part of my identity, but it's never been front and center.

        [00:11:30] Emily Harpster: And so it's been a lot of fun to figure this out. And the other thing I would say is that ice cream is a thing that really makes people happy. That's honestly a part of it too. I think it's been a little bit disarming and really charming. A lot of times when I will share with people that I do ice cream, they wanna tell me about their favorite ice cream memory.

        [00:11:49] Emily Harpster: Or a happy story or their favorite flavor, and it's just a really wonderful moment to have. And so I feel really lucky to get to have a lot of those moments in my day, these days. 

        [00:11:59] Georgiana Dearing: Oh, that's really lovely. I like that too. Ice cream moments are just, yeah, that sounds very special. . Yeah. So I see a lot of ice cream happening in and around Virginia, and a good bit of it is though being sold by the scoop at like some kind of a walkup window or into a retail space.

        [00:12:19] Georgiana Dearing: You started by selling wholesale. Can you talk about that decision, like why, or was it just fortuitous? Yeah, 

        [00:12:26] Emily Harpster: well, so there were a couple of reasons, and on a side note, I think I would love to see Virginia become like an ice cream destination up there with wine. I think that would be the coolest thing, and it would make sense,

        [00:12:37] Emily Harpster: And so I love it that there's this sort of ecosystem of people who are all trying to figure out different angles of this thing. I think it's really cool. But the reason I started with wholesale, so a. One is that one of the things that I learned from my days back doing program design is that the first thing you do is just kind of plug into the community and just kind of listen.

        [00:12:55] Emily Harpster: You figure out what people want, what they're responding to, and I think that wholesale offers a really interesting way to do that, you know, at the moment. Sugar bear ice cream is for sale in, I think it's five different locations. And so there are slightly different customers that are going to each of those locations, and so it's interesting and revealing to see who's ordering what, what's the feedback?

        [00:13:15] Emily Harpster: How many units are moving, what does that mean? How can I translate that into my plan for the future? And then I think part of it too is that I really just am not that interested in having a scoop shop. I think I came into this wanting to keep it simple and creative and collaborative, and I think that I may revisit that at some point in the future, but I'd love to do it in kind of a not traditional way.

        [00:13:40] Emily Harpster: You know, I got really excited at one point somebody said, oh, this space might be available where you can. It was at a bank, an old bank drive through. I said, oh, you might be able to use the deposit tubes to send pints through. And I was like, oh, that would be amazing. That might change my mind if I could do something , 

        [00:13:56] Georgiana Dearing: but I'm 

        [00:13:56] Emily Harpster: just in wait and see mode.

        [00:13:58] Emily Harpster: We'll see how it goes. I feel like you can make happy ice cream memories, just picking up a pint and eating it at home or taking it to a park or on a picnic. Lots of different ways to. And I love the simplicity of just being able to go in the kitchen and have a lot of freedom to focus on the ice cream and not necessarily need to worry about the other logistics that come with Scoop Shop.

        [00:14:18] Emily Harpster: And then I would also say that I was very aware as I was in the planning stages of this, we are coming out of Covid and all the hiring difficulties that everyone was having. And I was like, I'm not gonna worry about that right out of the gate if I can avoid it. Mm-hmm. , I'd like to kind of get on my feet first and see how it.

        [00:14:34] Emily Harpster: Yeah, 

        [00:14:34] Georgiana Dearing: they're two different animals. I think when you're running a scoop shop, you're running a restaurant. It's a location, it's the interior design, it's the staffing, and then you have to get the foot traffic. It's a whole different way to market your business, I think. Yeah, 

        [00:14:49] Emily Harpster: I totally agree. And this was also a way to start in a really lean way and not have to worry so much about the overhead connected to the design and infrastructure of a scoop.

        [00:15:01] Emily Harpster: So this was sort of a quick way to get started 

        [00:15:03] Georgiana Dearing: too. Yeah. You said something earlier that I thought was interesting about scale and price, and that when you went from three quart machine to, I think you said 20 QUT machine mm-hmm. , that it started to make more sense. Mm-hmm. financially, and it's like you'd have to do a lot of the same actions , to get Yeah.

        [00:15:21] Georgiana Dearing: To make three quarts, but at the end you only have like 10 pounds to sell. 

        [00:15:28] Emily Harpster: Yeah, and it was really becau, I mean, I was having fun. It is one of my favorite things to do, but it was also not a particularly sustainable pace, just running batch after batch, after batch after batch. And it wasn't very efficient.

        [00:15:39] Emily Harpster: And especially with the wholesale focus, my margins are a bit smaller than they would be otherwise. And so to produce things at volume is also a thing that just makes sense in this particular 

        [00:15:49] Georgiana Dearing: equation. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. No matter how you do it, food has very slim margins, quite frankly. Yes. Ingredient.

        [00:15:55] Georgiana Dearing: Especially in the craft area, ingredients are expensive and labor is a big piece of it. So that leads me to ask about that ice cream school. Did you go to anything like that? Did you do any kind of training? Well, 

        [00:16:07] Emily Harpster: I did. I did a couple actually. So the first one I went to was put on by Carpe, one of the big manufacturers of a lot of the machines.

        [00:16:14] Emily Harpster: I went to their. Facility in High Point, North Carolina, which was really helpful because I got a chance to look at all the different machines, got a chance to practice on them. Felt a little bit like walking into an episode of Top Chef for anyone who used to watch that show. We had three range access to this giant commercial kitchen and all the ingredients.

        [00:16:31] Emily Harpster: It was really a lot of fun. And then I also went to the ice cream short course at Penn. Which was absolutely incredible. It's a week long course, and you learn absolutely everything about the ins and outs of the ice cream business. You visit a dairy bar and you hear from a chemistry professor about the chemistry of ice cream, about the physics of it.

        [00:16:52] Emily Harpster: It sort of runs the gamut, and it's a very intense training. It gives you that kind of technical grounding where you can calculate an ice cream recipe, understanding the components of the milk and the cream in a really different. 

        [00:17:03] Georgiana Dearing: Wow. That sounds really like you did some planning before you jumped in.

        [00:17:07] Emily Harpster: Yeah, and I also took a small business class through this great organization in Charlottesville called the Community Investment Collaborative. And that was really helpful in helping me to think through the marketing and the budget and all the different aspects of getting a business going, and also tied me into a network of people who have been incredibly helpful in helping me get started.

        [00:17:25] Emily Harpster: So is that 

        [00:17:26] Georgiana Dearing: connected to Tom? Tom? No, not that I am aware of. Anyway, you sparked something when you said the investment collaborative and I thought, oh, there's a lot going on in Charlottesville. actually. Yeah, yeah, 

        [00:17:38] Emily Harpster: there is. It's 

        [00:17:39] Georgiana Dearing: a great place. So I have to ask you about the name Sugar Bear. Where did that come from?

        [00:17:44] Georgiana Dearing: Oh gosh. 

        [00:17:44] Emily Harpster: So I played with lots and lots of different names before I landed on Sugar Bear. And the reason. That it stuck and felt like the right name is. We lived in California for 14 years before moving back to Charlottesville. I met my husband in undergrad at U V A and I was trying to think of symbols that kind of tied the two places together.

        [00:18:04] Emily Harpster: And there's the bears in California and there's the brown bears in Virginia. And I also wanted something that would sort of evoke a vintage children's book illustration. I just had this really strong image in my mind. The feelings that ice cream brings up for a lot of people. And I think there's a lot of nostalgia and joy tied to ice cream.

        [00:18:22] Emily Harpster: And so that's how I ended up with a logo. That's a bear holding a balloon, eating an 

        [00:18:26] Georgiana Dearing: ice cream cone. Well, it's adorable. Uh, you're wearing a t-shirt with it on right now and I thought it was really cute, so I just had to know, cuz it does remind me of like an older stuffed animal or a child's. Best friend or something like that.

        [00:18:40] Georgiana Dearing: So yeah. Not that you would be best friends with a Bear , a live bear, right. 

        [00:18:46] Emily Harpster: Maybe was acted eating Ice cube. I don't know. . But yeah, my, my kids really like the name too. They refer to it as Sugi. So it's a lot of pet names in our house also. It's kind of why I liked it, cuz it's a little bit like a pet name too, 

        [00:18:58] Georgiana Dearing: so.

        [00:18:59] Georgiana Dearing: Oh, that's cute. Yeah. Yeah. That sounds so nice. Well, if the kids approved, that's good. Yeah, they were an important focus group of. So it sounds like you did a lot of groundwork before you did your startup, and you formed some really nice partnerships. You're already just a few months in and you're already in a few retail shops.

        [00:19:18] Georgiana Dearing: It sounds like you're off to a good start, but when you think about your brand five years from now mm-hmm. right now, that doesn't mean you have to commit to it this moment, but what do you see when you think Sugar Bear ice cream in 2020? So, wow, that 

        [00:19:35] Emily Harpster: feels like light years away. I think it would be really cool if Sugar Bear was a brand that was kind of woven into the community in Charlottesville, among the other brands that people know and one that people had a lot of happy memories tied to, and that it was an option that they thought of when they wanted to go celebrate something or take care of someone or feel better after a bad day.

        [00:19:59] Emily Harpster: I think that that is the vision. That's what I'm trying to. And I think to get there, I'm gonna need to get into more places and I hope that the collaboration will continue. I really, really love finding a new ingredient to use and it's really fun to play with and it comes out well and it's fun to share it.

        [00:20:18] Emily Harpster: And I love when people reach out to me and say, Hey, have you considered trying this? And I just hope to do more and more of that. I think this is a creative outlet as something that's really meaningful for me. And yeah, I'm kind of open to the possib. 

        [00:20:31] Georgiana Dearing: Well, that's a nice vision actually, to be like a strong regional brand.

        [00:20:37] Georgiana Dearing: That is a modest ambition for five years, and I think it sounds completely doable when you think about that and the capacity that you're gonna have to produce to become that. Mm-hmm. , how big do you think you would be? How many people or staff, or what do you think would. That is a great 

        [00:20:55] Emily Harpster: question. one that I am figuring out real time at the moment.

        [00:21:01] Emily Harpster: I feel like the big question of what is month two, month three is like, what is my actual limit for what I can do on my own? I feel like I'm getting there a little more quickly than I thought that I would. 

        [00:21:13] Georgiana Dearing: Yeah, growth is sometimes a double-edged sword, isn't it? ? Yeah, 

        [00:21:17] Emily Harpster: it kind of spun me around a little bit, but I mean, in a good way, to be clear.

        [00:21:21] Emily Harpster: But yeah, I am not really sure what the staffing will look like. I know at the top of my dream list month, June is a dishwasher, . I can just hire a dishwasher right now. And I think too, with the wholesale focus that at some point in the not too distant future, I'm gonna need to figure out the deliveries.

        [00:21:42] Emily Harpster: Yeah, it's just statistics of getting a certain number of units from one place to another. Right now I can do it on my own and it's doable, but I can see the date in the future where that math is gonna 

        [00:21:52] Georgiana Dearing: change. Yeah. I work with a handful of cold and frozen brands right now, and I have to tell you, delivery is a bit real piece of the puzzle, particularly with gas right now.

        [00:22:02] Georgiana Dearing: It's a real piece. Oh gosh. I can feel it coming. , I. So we're gonna dial the clock back to this year. I had you looking so far ahead. Yeah. But what's next for you in the immediate future? 

        [00:22:15] Emily Harpster: Yeah, so my approach has been to try a lot of different flavors and see what people respond to with a goal of over time narrowing down the list to sort of the greatest.

        [00:22:29] Emily Harpster: and then always having a few fun pop-up, creative experimental flavors on the side. And I feel like I'm getting close to having the information I need to kind of make that call as far as narrowing down the list. So that is definitely one thing that's on the horizon for me. Another thing that is at the top of my list at the moment is sort of figuring out the sales strategy.

        [00:22:49] Emily Harpster: So where do I wanna go next and what does getting there look? and then just kind of doing a push with marketing and getting the word out generally so that people are aware that Sugar Bear is here, where they can get it and that kind of thing. So those are kind of the short term, top of line things.

        [00:23:03] Georgiana Dearing: Mm-hmm. , well, you have started your ice cream business right as ice cream season is ramping up, and July is national ice cream month. So there's tons of ice cream things going on. Yeah. Have you thought about the colder months? Yeah, so 

        [00:23:20] Emily Harpster: I actually like the idea of the colder month. I'm completely fine with the sugar bear going into hibernation for a bit.

        [00:23:28] Emily Harpster: We'll now we'll see if that actually ends up happening or not. But to have some months, especially in the first year to kind of. Figure out what worked, what didn't work, where I wanna go next, what I need to do to get there will be, I think, really valuable. Mm-hmm. talking to some other people in the ice cream world, they've said things do tend to get pretty quiet in early November, and then January, February, March, or pretty quiet to.

        [00:23:52] Emily Harpster: And December I have heard can get pretty busy and active with holiday flavors and people wanting to get ice cream for different gatherings and that kind of thing. So expecting to maybe have a small burst of activity around then, but to otherwise use those months to just kind of focus on other things.

        [00:24:07] Emily Harpster: If I can. We'll see. It's, this is all new so I don't know. 

        [00:24:12] Georgiana Dearing: Well, it's okay to set your own pace, you know, and say here's the boundary, especially year. And if you're in real partnerships and communicating with your retailers that, yeah, it's okay to do all that. So is there anything else that you feel like you'd like to share right now?

        [00:24:29] Georgiana Dearing: No, I think, thank 

        [00:24:30] Emily Harpster: you for reaching out to me. I appreciate the opportunity and I was telling my husband, the concept reminds me of how I built this, if you've ever heard that. Oh, yeah, yeah. But it's like how I'm building this. I was sort of joking, it's like how I'm building this, but without any hindsight yet

        [00:24:44] Emily Harpster: So maybe I'll listen. Later in the year and look back and laugh on what I thought my plans would be. We'll see. But yeah, no, thank you for reaching out. I really appreciate that this platform is out there. 

        [00:24:54] Georgiana Dearing: So I'll stay in touch with you via email and then we'll circle back for another in-person conversation in about three months to see how things are going.

        [00:25:04] Georgiana Dearing: But in the short term, let's do a little bit of that marketing for you. Where can listeners find you? What's your Instagram handle? Could you name the physical locations beyond Mary Bet and your web address? Sure. 

        [00:25:17] Emily Harpster: So my Instagram handle is at Sugar Bear Seaville. My website is www.sugarbearseaville.com.

        [00:25:26] Emily Harpster: And at the moment, you can buy Sugar Bear products at Marie, be at Feast at vta Spirits Downtown tasting room. I'm doing some special collaborations with them using their products and also as of yesterday at Greenwood Grocery out in cri. 

        [00:25:43] Georgiana Dearing: That's great. Well, you sparked my interest though. I'm gonna have to ask you about this Vita Spirits collaboration.

        [00:25:48] Georgiana Dearing: What are you doing right now with that? That sounds interesting. It's really fun 

        [00:25:52] Emily Harpster: because I really enjoy playing with spirits and ice cream. I think they're a really fun thing to work with, and having a partner like Vita with a tasting room makes a lot of that experimentation possible, and their products are really fantastic.

        [00:26:05] Emily Harpster: So what we're doing right now is offering ice cream sandwiches that use their products and that are also made with Macaronis from Bowerbird Bake. And so I think the flavors they have at the moment, there's a spiced rum milk punch. There's a rum vanilla coffee, and I just made some more yesterday with a maple cream lacore.

        [00:26:23] Emily Harpster: Oh, that's really tasty. So the idea is that you can have sort of a nice cold bite in the summertime when you're in there tasting their 

        [00:26:30] Georgiana Dearing: products. Oh, and with the macaron, that sounds delightful. They already have kind of a crispy chewy. Hmm hmm. Yes. Oh, you've totally distracted me now. What would be doing

        [00:26:43] Georgiana Dearing: so, well, that sounds like a road trip, I think down to Vita Spirits. Well, I am gonna wrap this up and let you go, but as I said, we'll stay in touch over the next three months. You know, communicate back and forth via email, and then we'll set a date to talk again and check in on your progress in three months from now.

        [00:27:03] Georgiana Dearing: You'll be looking forward to those winter months and maybe have a plan for that in place and we'll talk about it and see how it's going. 

        [00:27:10] Emily Harpster: That sounds great. Thank you. I'm looking forward to it. This is really. Well, 

        [00:27:13] Georgiana Dearing: thank you so much. Thanks for listening, and if you wanna learn more about how to grow your own food brand, then click on Grow My brand@vafoodie.com.

        [00:27:24] 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 Twitter. Join the conversation and tell us about your adventures with good food, good people, and good brands.