Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Libby Lefanowicz, Founder & CEO of Kula Ice Cream, located in San Diego, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm the Founder and CEO of Kula Ice Cream. We make premium all-vegan ice cream loaded with chunks of gluten-free goodies! At Kula Ice Cream, we are passionate about creating a dairy-free frozen dessert that tastes like real ice cream!
Kula means community, and we make our ice cream with different nuts, seeds, and sweeteners to accommodate different preferences and allergies so that everyone can enjoy dessert!
We are on a mission to support our staff, customers, and communities to have access to equality and inclusion in their work, life, and ice cream. As an allergy-conscious vegan brand, we are inspired by the values of inclusion and belonging and engage with our community to support organizations that promote justice and equality.
Tell us about yourself
I have always loved dessert: brownies, cupcakes, cookies, and especially ice cream. Growing up, after dinner, my family would always have a dessert. Usually, my dad's homemade apple pie is topped with ice cream.
As I grew older, I started to develop anxiety, brain fog, adult acne, and a myriad of other health problems.
After many years, doctors visits, medications, and specialty diets, I finally concluded that I was dairy and gluten intolerant. At first, I hated this! I could no longer participate in family dessert time after dinner. And when I went on dates or hung out with friends to get ice cream, I was relegated to the one flavorless vegan sorbet (if I was lucky.) What I really wanted was creamy, decadent vanilla bean ice cream loaded with cookie dough chunks!
I knew I wasn't alone! Many people today struggle with food intolerances, and regular ice cream just won't cut it! There are a few good dairy-free ice creams and a few good gluten-free ice creams but never an ice cream that features BOTH!
At first, Kula started as experiments in my kitchen. Then, when my sister took me to a dairy-free ice cream-making class, I was hooked. Ideas started flowing, and I could hardly sleep. I was so excited about the thought of creating new flavors and recipes. And in March 2020, Kula Ice Cream was born.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I have been so proud of being able to grow my brand that people recognize it all over San Diego! I've had non-vegans send me messages raving about my mint chip ice cream, saying it's the best they've ever had! Last year, we were voted "Best Ice Cream Overall" by San Diego Magazine! This was incredible to be recognized by a non-vegan publication as the best ice cream overall. I really felt so proud of my business and all the work I've put in so far.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest part about owning a business for me is trying to balance so many plates at the same time. Being involved in a startup is always exciting and busy! We have a small, hard-working team, but I'm the next person in charge to do the job if anyone is sick.
So not only do I have my responsibilities as owner and CEO. But I'll often find myself filling in by making ice cream, selling at farmer's markets, serving customers at our storefront, etc. I have so much fun, but managing all of my other responsibilities can be difficult.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I'd say work with people you can count on. I couldn't do this without my incredible staff, the people behind the scenes who I can count on to help me run my business. It was tricky to start delegating tasks and responsibilities, but I couldn't do it all! It is so important for me to be able to trust my team.
And I'd say if you have a dream or an idea to start a business that will make our world better, go for it! It's all about trusting yourself and your gut. It is so scary to put yourself out there and go for it, but I am so glad I did!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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