April 11, 2011 By blogging

Not-So-Vanilla Ice Cream

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Needing some entrepreneurial inspiration this Monday morning?  With summer just around the corner, read of to learn about Jeni Braur who decided she was tired of plain-Jane vanilla ice cream…

Jeni Britton Braur was tired of the obsessions with the ‘perfect’ vanilla or chocolate ice cream so she decided she was going spice up ice cream flavors…literally. Braur launched her startup by opening an ice cream stand in North Market, a popular public market in Columbus, Ohio.

The first of her concoctions included chocolate ice cream with cayenne pepper, she also dabbled in a bacon flavor and salmon and curry. Unfortunately, people weren’t too fond of trying these new flavors and the small business closed soon after it opened, but Brauer was determined to open up a successful shop.

Braur and her husband, Charly, developed a new business plan and opened up ‘Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams’ in 2002. Jeni wanted to make sure to succeed this time around and began visiting other local food businesses to learn from their best practices.

1.  She needed to keep customer favorites such as Wildberry and Salted Carmel readily on hand. She decided to keep a second freezer with more experimental flavors on hand for the more adventurous customers. That way she would always have enough variety of flavors on hand to keep customers of all taste preferences coming back.

2.  The pricier pints were what hurt her previous business, but if she wanted to keep the $10 price the ingredients needed to be exceptional. She also needed to get a group of enthusiastic employees behind it that were well-educated on each flavor.

According to the New York-based ice cream consulting firm Malcolm Stogo Associates, Braur’s decision to brand her ice cream as “unusual” was a smart decision. Especially given that the National Ice Cream Retailers Association records around 15,000 independent ice cream shops in the nation at that time.

Braur says her attention to detail when perfecting each flavor is the biggest factor incustomer loyalty. People know to expect quality ice cream in a Braur’s pint, down to the texture.  Despite the recession, Brauer’s company has continued to grow, and she plans on opening her eighth location this April.

Her ice cream is also carried in 150 grocery stores nationwide and the company now has online sales as well. Braur’s company now has 120 employees, including 30 full-time business and kitchen staff. Despite their growth and success, Braur still sticks behind her brand and makes sure to continue to experiment with new flavors of ice cream.

The success of Braur’s ice cream shop can serve as a great example for many start-ups. Braur developed a creative technique and stuck by it despite the growth of her company. Her dedication to the brand and product quality helped maintain customer loyalty. Her study of competing companies’ best practices also served as a tool for success. Don’t hesitate to utilize these tools to ensure the success of your own brand.

It’s exciting to see the entrepreneurial success of small businesses, especially one so delicious! Although, I’m still not sure if any of us at integratePR would be brave enough to try bacon flavored ice cream! Would you??