There's a Jeni's Ice Cream shop a mere few blocks from my house in Venice that my husband and I frequent so when I was on a women's entrepreneur retreat in Napa last year and ended up chatting with Jeni, and learning she was well, you know, Jeni- I was excited! It's always such a treat to meet the founder of a brand you are a loyal customer and fan of. Here's a look into her sweet world....
LA: What is one interesting thing that people may not know about owning an Ice Cream brand?
JENI: That people personally identify with their flavor — as if the flavor they choose defines them in some small but important way. It’s why we have so much fun with ice cream. I worked at the counter and made all the ice cream for 8 years and it was so much fun to watch people choose and see how they connected with the ice creams and then shared with their friends. In a way it’s like sharing a little bit of yourself with someone else.
LA: What is one mistake you made in your career that you learned the most from?
JENI: Trusting people instead of just hiring a lawyer. Early on, especially. Any time you sign something, any time you agree on anything with another person in business, you’ve got to have your own representation. No question. No matter the cost. I’ve never met a person with good intent who will pressure you otherwise.
LA: As a Founder, what is one bit of advice you can share with our readers if they want to pursue this particular career?
JENI: I’ll keep it broad about starting a food company, not just ice cream. Think about your own needs, wants, habits, desires and build your idea from there. Our eating patterns are changing now and that means there’s a lot of opportunity and room for good ideas. Don’t overthink it, just start small and build. Your idea will continue to take shape as you learn more about who you serve and what they care about.
LA: What are you most proud of at this moment?
JENI: I’m most proud of what I consider to be the best flavor we’ve ever made, my favorite ever. It’s a collaboration with Tyler, The Creator called Pluto Bleu and it just dropped this week. It’s a hard to describe lovely candy scent, and it’s tart and umber creamy. Tastes like if you eat all the nerds at once. And its twist of deep blue and peach in color (naturally colored).
LA: Your go-to beverage after a long week (specifics please!)?
JENI: I gave up alcohol because I eat so much ice cream and also because I am a very dedicated early sleeper/reader! So, I’ll say a sundae I do at least once on the weekend, which is two scoops Brown Butter Almond Brittle, caramel sauce, smoked almonds and whipped cream. It will take all the pain away (for a few lovely moments).
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