Inspiration can strike anywhere! Felecia Hatcher came up with her business idea after landing face first behind an ice cream truck she’d been chasing (in heels!). She now has a fleet of mini ice cream trucks and carts bringing her signature Feverish Pops to the Miami area and beyond. Feverish Ice Cream has grown steadily, booking gigs with J. Crew, Tom Cruise, Bacardi, and Cirque du Soleil. Felecia has plans to keep growing with a business model that includes giving back to the community through mentoring youth. She talked to M.I.S.S. about starting a business and where she looks for inspiration for some of her unique flavors:
What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?
Tina Wells is a woman that I admire she is the owner of Buzz Marketing. Michelle Hopkins the owner of Chicago based Michelle Foods. I read her book right before starting Feverish it gave me the confidence to start Feverish right away with what I had.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I literally fell into Feverish. I got the original inspiration after falling down chasing an ice cream truck in heels and its grown organically from there. I owned 2 businesses before that so I knew I had to do back to being my own boss because corporate America was not working for my soul 100%.
Did you love ice cream as a child? When did you start making ice cream and popsicles?
I am a dessert freak I love sweets of all kinds and I especially love ice cream. While working as an experiential marketing manager I traveled 100% for about 4 years so I really got a chance to indulge in ice cream from all over the country. I actually started making ice cream about 4 years ago and it was a lot of experimenting because I don’t have any culinary training.
How do you come up with flavors?
The inspiration for our flavors come from all over. A lot of times its from food we eat, my husband and I love Indian food and Ethiopian food and that is where our masala chai tea popsicle came from. Going out to happy hour with my girls is where our line of spiked popsicles came from. We also get a lot of suggestions from our customers and clients. They often suggest flavors to us on Twitter and Facebook or we create custom flavors for weddings and marketing campaigns and if they are amazing we add them to our list. Our Mimosa popsicle came from a bride and our mango bourbon came from Makers Mark wanting us to create a custom flavor using their bourbon.
How did you come up with the name Feverish? What does it mean?
If you are feeling hot cool down with ice cream. That’s really what the name means. When brainstorming I wanted something that seemed more like a lifestyle brand and less like a traditional ice cream company because those were the kind of events we wanted to be a part of and that was the type of brand we wanted to build. I actually remember a company wanted to carry our ice cream in his store but didn’t like the name said it should be more traditional he was like you should change it to Hatcher’s Ice Cream and make it seem like it’s been around for a long time. Needless to say we didn’t move forward with that deal. We wanted to to be fresh and hip and pique people’s interest.
You’ve said that Feverish is giving ice cream trucks a makeover. How have you gone about this? What makes Feverish Ice Cream carts and trucks unique?
We are all about design and owning our own business gives us creative license. We have vintage Mexican ice cream carts but the colors are loud and we have a girl on it that looks like she is dancing at a club with a popsicle in her hand. I remember the first time we picked up ice cream from a distributor and there were all these big ice cream truck around laughing at us that we would be able to carry any ice cream in it. We don’t need to carry 75 different flavors it’s packaged ice cream you can be small and more efficient and that is why we strategically chose smaller cars.
Feverish works with youth organizations and non-profits and your trucks have a small carbon footprint. Please explain some of the work you’ve done in these areas and why these issue are important to you.
A portion of each popsicle we sell goes directly to charity and allows my husband and I to go into school and work with students on high school graduation, youth entrepreneurship, STEM, and overall fighting poverty by tackling youth unemployment. It’s important to us because we did not get to where we are and achieve what we did alone. We’ve had amazing mentors along the way, friends, family and strangers. Most importantly 2 things happened to me that truly shaped my life and drives me to help kids. First, my high school guidance counselor told me that I would never make it to college because of my grades, sure they weren’t the best I was a c student but I was far from hopeless. I used her words as encouragement and ended up winning over $100,000 in scholarships. I come across kids all the time that have had poor teachers or guidance counselors or even parents if I can be that light, if I can show them what can happen when you don’t allow anyone to deter you from your dream and not let your circumstances define you then we are doing great work. The other is that my husband and I lost our jobs in 2008 being unemployed is life altering, but being unemployable is an even harder pill to swallow. That’s what our kids are up against, they are not able to get the first jobs that help them gain basic skills and supplement that education that they are not getting in a classroom sure that first job maybe McDonalds (that was my first job) but I learned money management, customer service, systemization and time management. With the economy the way it is they are missing those opportunities because adults are taking those minimum wage jobs. That is the reason we started PopPreneurs not just to teach kids about entrepreneurship but to teach them how to create their own opportunities, and gain valuable skills that will prepare them for college and life.
What’s your favorite flavor that you’ve created?
My favorite flavor right now is a tie between pineapple basil and peanut butter and jelly.
Who do you want to work with?
My big dream is to get into Whole Foods – we’ve worked with them before doing employee appreciation events. Richard Branson is another person I would love to work with I dream about getting on a Virgin America flight and people in first class are eating our Spiked pops instead of sipping cocktails.
What part of running your own business is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?
The most challenging part is making the product. I guess that is why my husband and I make such a great team. That’s the area that he thrives in I handle all the admin and marketing he oversees production and logistics.
Any advice for ladies who are interested in starting their own business?
Yes start small and THINK BIG and FINISH BIG most importantly just start! Many people get overwhelmed with the thought of starting a business because they think they have to have the big office and tons of staff and this and that in order to be successful. Start with what you have get creative with your limited resources it adds character and personality to your business and be ready to embrace the unknown and all the mistakes you will make. Because no matter how many business books you read you will not find a road map on exactly what you need to become successful. You will have to forge your own path. I remember when I first started the business I bought 2 carts off of Craigslist and could not afford to graphic wrap them so I spray painted them myself people loved it. We are in a DIY culture right now and there is charm in the little imperfections because it shows that you did it and not some machine in China. When a popsicle stick is crooked people don’t complain they say it like that it’s hand made and I like that I can talk to the person that made it. I’ll give you a better example I have been mentoring a girl for almost 2 years she has an amazing idea and I am still astonished that no one else is doing it yet. I have given her the best advice for starting small but still having a big business look and feel and how to start the business with no outside investment. However our last conversation started with her telling me that she needs to find an investor to start because she found a manufacture in China that can produce her product but she will need to order 100,000 units. It’s great to think big but you haven’t sold your first product yet. Create the product first have something to show, make your prototype at home shop it around to clients and create a demand first by taking orders showcasing the prototype. When you get the demand and the cash flow then find a supplier to meet the demand. That is the prime example of the head junk that stops people from starting a business because they have mentally make the process harder then it really is. Start small and make your own rules.
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