Start Up Stories: Fable Ice Cream
Everyone who has a food business dream looks around at businesses and wonders "How did they do it?". It seems like such a big project to take an idea and turn it into a successful restaurant, catering business, food product or food truck. It's easy to speculate that these people are different, that the founders had something the average person doesn't and that's why they are where they are. We hope showcasing some successful food businesses in our city will prove that, with hard work and a plan, anyone can be successfully running their dream business.
Third edition of Start Up Stories coming at ya this month and we're talking to Fable Ice Cream! Another husband and wife team, Jordan and Lauren Ethridge opened Fable in June 2017. True ice cream connoisseurs, these two are bringing unique and enticing flavours with a local flare to Saskatoon via their adorable shop on Avenue H. This ice cream is made with fresh, locally produced ingredients and it shows in the taste.
Jordan and Lauren have a reputation for being one of the nicest couples you can meet. Fun, friendly and outgoing, these two will make you want to invite them to your next game night (and not just because they might bring ice cream). While also starting and running a kick ass food business, Lauren and Jordan also keep a focus on family, taking the time away from Fable to spend time with their new little one and each other, which can be so challenging when you're starting a new business.
Now that you're totally in love with Lauren and Jordan, let's hear some more about how things are going with Fable Ice Cream!
TLK: Hi Lauren and Jordan! Thanks for joining me today and letting us in on a bit about how and why you started Fable Ice Cream!
JOLO: Thanks so much for having us! We love what you're doing with this blog series. Its so much fun to read the stories of other local food entrepreneurs.
TLK: Thank you! It's been really fun for me too, getting to know things I didn't already know about these businesses I love!
So guys, Is this your first food business?
JOLO: Yes, and to be honest it isn't something we ever imagined we’d be doing! We've always spent a lot of time out enjoying the great food scene we have here in Saskatoon, and when travelling we found ourselves planning our days around finding the best restaurants, cafes and of course, ice cream shops. After a few years of thinking and talking way too much about ice cream, we decided our obsession was something we should maybe pay more attention to.
TLK: Did you have restaurant/food business experience when you started?
JOLO: We both have served and bartended a lot over the years, which is actually how we met. Jordan also gained great barista and management experience working at Collective Coffee, but neither of us had spent much time in a commercial kitchen. It was a definite learning curve, doing a lot of research and trying to piece things together by trial and error as we went. Ice cream is so much fun to make though, and tasting all of our test batches certainly didn't feel like a chore!
TLK: What made you decide to go into business for yourself?
JOLO: We got a small ice cream machine to try making it at home and from there it just kind of became a life force. Lauren has a business degree and always wanted to do something entrepreneurial but was waiting for the right opportunity. When we discovered that we could actually make pretty good ice cream, it seemed like a no brainer.
TLK: Well, I for one am so glad you bought that ice cream maker. What inspired you to select the type of business/branding you have?
JOLO: Back when we were dreaming about our brand and what we wanted our space to look like, the words 'whimsical' and 'childlike' kept coming to mind. Right now our space is still kind of a blank slate, but we have plans to slowly add elements that will give it a more “Fabley” vibe. You’ll have to wait to see what that looks like!
TLK: Do you work with an outside marketing and branding company or do you do it yourself?
JOLO: We knew we wanted our logo to be hand drawn, and were fortunate enough to have a willing friend who also happens to be a very talented designer! Beyond that, we put together our website (mostly!) ourselves and we run our own social platforms. Instagram is our most significant marketing effort, but we try to keep it really simple and true to who we are- not overly curated and a little bit silly.
TLK: What was your start up process like? How long did it take?
JOLO: We spent about a year and a half making ice cream at home and thinking about what we wanted our business to look like. The process of getting our ducks in a row to actually open our doors took us about six months. We started working on our business plan in January of 2017, and knowing we had to open before summer we were quite motivated to get everything sorted as quickly as possible. We were very fortunate to secure a great location and everything else fell into place in time for us to open in June of that year.
TLK: Do you work with an investor for your business?
JOLO: We do not. We took out a business loan with Futurpreneur and BDC to get started. Generous parents have come in handy when bigger equipment became an urgent necessity!
TLK: What is one thing you would change if you could go back and do the start up process again (if anything).
JOLO: We definitely underestimated how busy we would be in the beginning. We started in a 200 square foot space and didn’t have any staff when we first opened, so the two of us worked insane hours for the first month until we were able to hire some help. Looking back, it is a miracle that we were able to make enough ice cream and waffle cones with the equipment we had! That being said, we enjoyed those crazy first days and made a lot of fun memories together.
TLK: Isn't it funny how stressed you are in the first few days but then when you look back you have such a warm spot for that time in your mind? What did you find to be the biggest challenge starting and what’s the biggest challenge you face day to day?
JOLO: The biggest challenge starting was the same challenge we face today- keeping up with making enough ice cream! Starting as small as we did, we have some catching up to do in order to meet demand and that is what we are focusing on at the moment. We now have a much larger kitchen and bigger equipment, but we are still working on just keeping up.
TLK: Not surprised to hear that! Do you plan to expand your business or focus on improving the systems you have now?
JOLO: At this point, all of our focus is going into streamlining our processes in the shop. We’ve got some fun stuff up our sleeves in terms of expanding our product offerings, but we need to make sure the things we’re already doing are running as smoothly as possible before introducing anything new.
TLK: Ok, last (and most difficult) question: What is your favourite Fable Ice Cream Flavour?
JOLO: When we started making ice cream we of course had to recreate our personal childhood favourites! Blackberries & Cream is our take on Jordan's fave from back home in New Brunswick. As a kid Lauren always went for Tiger Tiger, so we created an ice cream that captures the classic black liquorice and orange combo but without the artificial colour. We call it White Tiger!