2018 has been a big year for Frankie & Jo’s.
We opened our second scoop shop, created 25 seasonal flavors, launched a Pint Club, and have grown a strong management team to prime ourselves for successful growth. Our two co-founders, Kari Brunson & Autumn Martin were also named the vegan ice cream world's "Most Influential Duo" by Cherrybombe Magazine. So, we thought it would be a good idea to reflect on the past two years of revolutionizing minds about ice cream and plants. Here are a few frequently asked questions.
Where did the original idea for a plant-based ice cream come from? Did people encourage the idea or did it receive a lot of push back?
Autumn’s desire to create a vegan ice cream came from being allergic to dairy, and not being able to find a delicious, creamy and rich ice cream that didn’t have a lot of gums. She knew that there were so many people like her out there, not eating cow’s milk for one reason or another, but still wanting to enjoy amazing ice cream. She received a lot of push-back. Most investors she pitched to did not think a stand-alone vegan ice cream shop would survive, as there would not be enough people interested.
Why does vegan ice cream get a bad rap?
Traditionally, vegan ice cream has been very icy and made from soy or coconut milk, resulting in a flavor that is not neutral, nor as creamy as one would expect from a cow ice cream - due to the low-fat content. So, the flavor, texture, and mouthfeel are lacking. To make up for the thin and icy mouthfeel, most, if not all companies, have used starches or gums to thicken the consistency. Frankie & Jo’s challenge has been to create a vegan ice cream that has no gums or starches, a high-fat content and an insanely creamy, rich and full texture and mouthfeel.
How did Kari and Autumn meet? Did they know who each other were before?
The two knew of each other from around town, and officially met while on a women’s entrepreneurial panel in 2013, and then again (on the same panel) in 2014. Then, in 2015 when Autumn was building her Hot Cakes Capitol Hill location, she would frequent Kari’s cafe, Juicebox. Autumn decided to present the early idea of Frankie & Jo’s to Kari - she loved the idea, the two became business partners, and the rest is history.
What about their personalities made them confident that they would be great business partners?
Kari & Autumn treated their coming together very seriously. Before signing anything, they sat down and wrote out their ideal job descriptions: what they are good at, where they lack skills, what they liked to do, and what sucked their energy. Amazingly, it was clear the fit was perfect. They both had desires that complimented one another and continue to this day, to live by the original manifestos they wrote and swear that by honest and real communication, they have been able to be amazing business partners to each other and for the company.
Where do the two find creative inspiration?
They strive to create magic every day both with the ice cream the company serves and the unique customer service experience. The F&J team is wildly creative and receive so much inspiration and energy from one another. Wanting to be more than excellent at what they do drives them to think outside of the box and do things with ice cream that are wildly unexpected. They get excited about ingredients not traditionally found in ice cream, but maybe in an apothecary or the savory kitchen, or growing wild in the desert or forest. They see no limit to how people enjoy ice cream, not only the base it is made with but also the ingredients that bring it to life.
What has been the largest roadblock or difficulty they have experienced so far in their professional life at Frankie & Jo’s?
The biggest roadblock has been trying to grow the company while also maintaining integrity. They want to share the magic of F&J with the country but want to grow slowly, thoughtfully and with intention - it is often hard to raise money for growth when going against the grain of traditional expansion.
What work are they most proud of?
Kari and Autumn have built an extremely loyal team, many of which have been with them since day one. They have spent a lot of time this year working on our company’s culture and how to work as a collective unit while also maintaining their own personalities and skill sets. Fun fact: Two of the original opening scoopers from 2016 now work on the management team and F&J’s first employee, Amy Brown, is now Director of Northwest Operations.