Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Paula Shyba, co-founder of Kind Ice Cream. Her co-founders are Candyce Morris and Nicole Bhar, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Tell us all about your business...
We’re Kind Ice Cream, a women-owned small-batch ice cream shop in Edmonton, Alberta. We opened the doors to our first location, a small 300 square foot shop where we made all of our ice cream on-site, and have since opened a second location and a production kitchen where all of our ice creams are made. Community is a huge focus for us - with both of our shops located in vibrant, walkable neighborhoods, we’re very connected with our customers and other businesses around us.
What's your background and motivation to grow as an entrepreneur?
The three of us are family (Nicole and Candyce are sisters and Paula and Nicole are wives) who bring a different perspective to Kind Ice Cream. Each having backgrounds in the hospitality industry, we knew that we had the knowledge and the drive to create a successful shop in Edmonton - with a bit of help and advice from our friends in the industry. While we had a reasonably clear vision for Kind Ice Cream right from the beginning, none of us had the culinary experience we knew we needed to craft genuinely exceptional ice cream. We brought on Chael MacDonald, a professional chef and good friend who we knew would be up to the task. With a scientific and chef-minded approach, we spent almost a year testing ice cream recipes with Chael. Until we had 12 incredible flavors which make up our “Always Flavours” (each month, we roll out three new “Rotating Flavours” as well, giving us the chance to get creative and utilize seasonal local ingredients). While we’ve grown quickly in the last 2 1/2 years since opening, the three of us still play prominent day-to-day roles at Kind Ice Cream. We don’t intend to grow beyond an upcoming third location and plan to continue to stay creative and keep connected with our community. The most motivating thing for us is to keep getting better - we can always make better ice cream, be a better employer, and have better systems - we’re never satisfied keeping things just as they are and are always looking for those growth edges.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our most significant accomplishment has been our connections with our growing team and with our community. We work hard to create an inclusive, welcoming environment that is a safe space to work and visit regardless of who you are. We support our team and designed custom pronoun pins for our entire team to help gender inclusivity. We have a sign language program so that all of our scooping staff know ASL basics and efficiently serve members of the d/Deaf community. These little things that we do to make our shops inclusive help us show up for our community and staff to know they’re safe to be themselves at Kind Ice Cream.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being an entrepreneur?
The three of us would all agree that the most challenging thing about being a business owner is how difficult it can be to turn off your "business brain." All significant decisions, roof leaks, equipment issues, COVID pivots, and bottom lines fall on us as owners. This means that we're never fully able to tag out from the business happenings (although we are lucky to have three owners to share some of the work when things go sideways). However hard it may be, though, we love what we do and wouldn't change anything.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First, make sure that you spend lots of time planning. It helps to create a solid, realistic business plan. It’s easy to be idealistic about your numbers and growth in the early daydreaming stages, but it’s helpful to also consider the less ideal scenarios and plan for those as well. It’s reassuring to look ahead and know what you can expect during busy, successful periods and quieter growth periods as well. Contradicting that first tip: be adaptable. It’s great to have a clear picture of who you are and how you operate, but things are constantly changing, and it’s essential to roll with those changes. Finally, ask for help. Being an entrepreneur and starting a business can be isolating, and there isn’t always a great deal of information available depending on the field you’re entering. We’ve found that if you’re open to asking, other business owners are almost always more than happy to share what they’ve learned along the way, usually in great detail.
Where can people find you?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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