eni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, absolutely loves ice cream. As you’d expect. Who doesn’t?
After nearly 25 years in the business, making and selling ice cream has been hardwired into her very essence. And that’s due, in part, to her upbringing. “I grew up loving ice cream because I’m from the Midwest,” Britton Bauer, tells CNBC Make It.
“We don’t even think of ice cream as dessert here,” she says, adding that it’s practically its own food group. Certainly something that you eat every day. Just like drinking coffee in the morning is a sacred ritual, so is enjoying ice cream in the evening. And Britton Bauer’s journey toward building a thriving ice cream business started early in life.
Britton Bauer vividly recalls the moment her grandmother put her on the path to becoming an ice cream entrepreneur at just 10 years old. “She was standing in the kitchen stirring a pot, and she stopped me in my tracks and said: ‘Jeni, you’re so lucky because you can be whatever you want to be. You can be a doctor, lawyer, an astronaut. It wasn’t like that for me.’” At the time, Britton Bauer simply responded with a “Thanks, Grandma,” and darted off.
“But I remember, when I when I ran outside — in that moment — I thought, Well if that’s true then I’ll be an ice cream maker, ” she recalls. “Ice cream has always been a part of my life, and I think it was meant to be.”
Even if Britton Bauer was destined to create ice cream — and selling a stunning 2 million pints last year alone suggests she was — that doesn’t mean building her business from the ground up was easy.