Ice Cream Day Spotlight on St. Louis' First Microcreamery[ Edited ]
July 2016 - last edited July 2016
In celebration of National Ice Cream Day (July 17), we spoke with small business owner Tamara Keefe of Clementine's Naughty & Nice Creamery. Tamara began making ice cream as a child, when she and her mother bought a hand-crank ice cream machine at a yard sale. Since then, ice cream has always been her passion. She cashed in her retirement and invested everything to open Clementine's Naughty & Nice Creamery in St. Louis' beautiful Lafayette Square neighborhood.
What inspired you to start your own small business?
I was in corporate America, and they owned me, my time and my life. I was excelling but losing the passion for what I was doing, and I was always gone and on the road. Technically, I had everything: financial security and traveling around the world. But I never saw my family or my friends -- my life felt empty.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to a company just starting out?
Be prepared. Work harder than you ever imagined, and save your money. I am so grateful that I saved money to live for a few years. I've made better decisions without the pressure of paying my mortgage.
What was the biggest turning point for your business?
A large client came to us because their previous vendor's products got a bunch of people sick! They needed 6,000 single serve ice cream cups in 5 days due to having to dump the old, unsafe product. I thought to myself, “If we can pull this off, they will be loyal customers for life.” We did it! We had everyone we know help us hand pack the 6000 cups and saved them. Needless to say, we won that account and they love us. I knew if we could pull together our team and do it, we could do anything. I have the best people around!
Where or who do you turn to for support?
My mentors and my life partner. I've been blessed to find someone who "has been there and done that." He helps me tremendously!
What technology could your business not live without?
Schedulefly. It’s the best, most affordable online scheduling tool anywhere. It’s so focused on small business and retail/restaurant establishments.
What’s been your #1 marketing tool for getting new customers?
Social media with a multi-platform approach. You have to utilize different platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yelp) in a cohesive way that fits your value proposition and brand strategy.
What are some of the challenges you faced in opening a brick-and-mortar in the food industry?
Staffing! Getting good people really is the hardest thing. Food safety, sanitation, production and marketing have come very easy for me since I came from the Consumer Packaged Goods and food industry.
What do you consider to be your biggest success?
My biggest success is being rated the #1 ice cream shop in the state after less than 2 years being in business. People recognize that what I am doing is a game changer for the industry.
Where do you see your energy shifting, as the founder, once Clementine's Creamery gets bigger?
Multi-unit expansion is on the horizon, and I plan to expand our production facilities.
Re: Ice Cream Day Spotlight on St. Louis' First Microcreamery
A passionate startup that entered into a complex frozen dessert market and yet achieved early success, well done and keep it up. It's not going to be easy as you grow further, the product assortment limitations, complex cold chain assets,continuos innovations and training and the distribution mechanics pose unique challenges to this industry.
Your passion, vision and unique set of team skills shall continue to steer you towards more prosperity and success. Well done!