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Salt & Straw’s Journey From Pushcart to Nationwide Franchise


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their very own.

Salt & Straw, a West Coast ice cream hub, has scooped up scrumptious and distinctive flavors in Portland since 2011 and is now celebrating its enlargement to the East Coast, particularly Miami. As proprietor Kim Malick defined, integrating into Miami tradition was about counting on established native companies and tapping into native data.

With a number of areas throughout the nation, Salt & Straw is not precisely a “small” enterprise, however Kim did not initially plan to have multiple location. In truth, she began with solely a pushcart. Now, nevertheless, Salt & Straw has grown right into a family identify throughout the USA, bringing Kim nearer to reaching her dream of making extra areas to foster togetherness.

Associated: Kim Malek of Salt & Straw on Modernizing the Ice Cream Business

Rising unintentionally, naturally

Earlier than founding Salt & Straw, Kim labored at Starbucks Espresso as an early worker, a formative function that gave her the expertise of increasing a enterprise on a big scale and making a communal house that allowed patrons to work together with each other.

“There have been 30 shops after I began and three,000 after I left. So I used to be a part of this little group that was determining learn how to develop the corporate and learn how to introduce the concept of a latte to folks all through the USA and all through the world,” Kim mentioned. “I fell in love with simply the entrepreneurial spirit of that and actually this concept of a 3rd place. It is not your private home. It is not your workplace. It is this third place the place you possibly can spend time for your self. And I believed an ice cream store could be an effective way to mirror that. You would run into your neighbors and spend time with family and friends and simply meet folks. So for me, that was the inspiration, that concept of group and reflecting that group spirit.”

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With a need to create an ice cream store that will each harness the spirit of the group round her and ship “pure pleasure” by means of a traditional dessert, Kim started to create a marketing strategy and discover choices for retail areas inside the Portland space. Regardless of understanding the challenges of being a small enterprise proprietor all too nicely (her father had gone bankrupt operating a small enterprise), she endured.

In the summertime of 2011, Kim opened a pushcart to promote ice cream to locals. That August would see the very first storefront of Salt & Straw.

“I used to be certain nobody would present up, [but] folks actually confirmed as much as help us proper out of the gates. It was actually, actually busy. We needed to rent a bunch of individuals, and nobody feels sorry for you when your downside is you are too busy. However it was loopy. I can bear in mind setting my alarm simply to get a pair hours of sleep after which speeding again to be there to scoop ice cream, and my cousin was making ice cream within the again,” Kim defined.

Quickly after, she and her group opened their second location, regardless of enlargement not being of their unique marketing strategy.

“Once we opened our first store, we did not have any cash. I cashed in my 401k. I had a storage sale. I bought my home, maxed out my bank cards. We did every thing to get that retailer open, and right here it was, lower than a yr later: We need to open a second retailer.”

Increasing thoughtfully, with respect to native tradition and people who got here earlier than

Salt & Straw views every enlargement as a collaboration between its hometown of Portland and the areas it expands to, reasonably than an “exportation” of its ice cream. In accordance with Kim, this mindset helps Salt & Straw keep its model id whereas concurrently drawing upon the tradition and taste of recent cities.

When opening the Miami location, Kim stored native tradition and group prime of thoughts—and for Miami locals, it resonated.

Yelp Regional Supervisor and Miami native Diandra Lamas praised Salt & Straw’s adoption and respect for the realm’s tradition.

“[What] caught out about them to me is that they determined to do their announcement of their shops at Panther Espresso. Whenever you speak in regards to the timeline of native companies being necessary in Miami, and when folks began actually caring about these native manufacturers and what they have been doing and the affect on the group, it’s a must to speak about Panther Espresso. They have been the primary native espresso roasters right here, and so they have actually paved the way in which for lots of that inspiring community-driven outreach and innovation. In order that they did their occasion to fulfill them and check out their ice cream there. I do not know many manufacturers which are massive that do this sort of labor.

Associated: Why This Entrepreneur Who Took Over a 70-12 months-Previous Ice Cream Model

“I am born and raised in Miami, so I’m all the time going to attempt to discover the native ice cream store, the native tattoo parlor, the native bar, as a result of that is simply what we do intrinsically as group managers. So it was type of like a respect factor.

“They know the folks that they are presupposed to work with—and so they know the people who have actually constructed this runway for companies to return in right here and flourish like these native companies that basically hustled—and so they’re working with them. I believed that was wonderful.”

Integrating customer support into the tradition of every new retailer

The sense of group is tangible inside all Salt & Straw areas, in response to Diandra, and, on prime of the wonderful customer support, is what retains prospects coming again repeatedly.

“My cousin Tyler, who makes all of the ice cream, will say that the ice cream is barely 49% of the expertise, and 51% is whenever you are available in and [receive what] we name ‘giving a second of full-face consideration…’ the place we encourage folks to spend just a bit extra time than you would possibly suppose could be logical with every visitor and join with them in their very own manner whereas coming to work and being your greatest self, not a cookie cutter individual,” Kim mentioned.

Kim and her group have created a product and expertise that retains prospects returning all around the nation. Salt & Straw’s different keys to success embrace:

  • Letting workers’ personalities shine. Chatting with Salt & Straw workers is a crucial a part of the general expertise. The time they spend with prospects enhances the sensation of group and helps folks discover an ice cream they’re going to love.
  • Embracing suggestions. Kim reads and responds to on-line evaluations to be a part of the dialog about her enterprise. She makes use of suggestions as a tactical benefit to establish tendencies amongst prospects, rivals, and her personal shops.
  • Increasing with grace. When shifting into Miami, Kim’s group did their analysis on the native enterprise scene and group to search out probably the most pure method to introduce themselves, reasonably than simply establishing store with out ingratiating themselves to locals.

Take heed to the episode beneath to listen to instantly from Kim and Diandra and subscribe to Behind the Evaluate for extra from new enterprise house owners and reviewers each Thursday.

Accessible on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pandora, and Soundcloud.

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