On these last hot days of summer, desserts like frozen yogurt bites and parfait popsicles are the perfect way to cool down. If you’re someone who loves frequenting froyo shops and makes her own inventive froyo flavors at home, you might consider opening your own store someday to satisfy your love of all things tasty. In this week’s How to Quit Your Day Job series, we chat with Liz Fielder, the owner of Loving Cup, a Bay Area frozen yogurt and rice pudding shop with three locations — two in San Francisco and a third in Marin County.
Meet the FroYo Pro: Liz Fielder
Before opening Loving Cup in the Bay Area, Liz worked as an interior designer for a boutique NYC firm, helping to design celebrity homes and big-time restaurants. But after the market crash in 2008, the design firm downsized and Liz needed to find a new job. Around this time, her mom — who had a fantastic recipe for rice pudding — wanted to open a rice pudding shop. Liz loved the idea of running her own business, so she decided to move back to the Bay Area. Liz wanted to open a “wholesome, craft dessert shop that focused on natural ingredients and healthy living.” Picture Cinnamon Rum Raisin rice pudding topped with fresh fruit or nonfat vanilla froyo with Nutella blended in it (like a healthy version of a Dairy Queen Blizzard). With three locations serving happy Bay Area customers, Liz loves every minute of her business creation.
1. Make to order. One of the reasons customers rave about Loving Cup on Yelp (One reviewer wrote, “Loving Cup is so good OH MY GOD. I love this place.”) is that each cup is hand churned on site. When a customer comes into the store, they can choose from a list of ingredients that they can blend into their yogurt for a custom flavor. Liz sources locally whenever possible, like “uh-mazing” espresso beans from Saint Frank Coffee for the Mocha Chip flavor and organic milk from Clover Farms in nearby Sonoma. But Liz is quick to point out that, “No matter how many healthy or gourmet options we offer, the best sellers are always good old peanut butter and Oreos.”
2. Done is better than perfect. As a new mom of a four-month-old baby boy and a perfectionist at heart, Liz knows that quiet time is now a luxury. Pre-baby, Liz worked 15-hour days for two years to get Loving Cup off the ground, but now she balances new mom life and her stores. “Women today can have it all, but we can’t have it all at once. Enjoy being a mom while your baby is little. A business, especially a brick-and-mortar food concept, will require all your time,” says Liz.
3. Just do it. The fear of opening your own biz can be paralyzing, but Liz shares that if you have a “solid business plan, a great idea that will make money and true passion, you will be successful.” Focus on what you love to do and craft a sound business plan, and you can make your dream career come true.
4. Mind your numbers. As a creative person, it can be easy to focus on the details and design of your brand and not look at the numbers of the day in and day out. Liz points out that a business like hers is all about figuring out what are the most popular items and when her shops are the busiest. Liz utilizes Square POS in all three locations and swears by its power to help her know her numbers. “Square is literally the most valuable tool I have as a business owner,” says Liz.
5. It’s all about teamwork. Nowadays, Liz spends a lot of her time on her computer and meeting with managers, designers, investors and other key players in her business. But what makes her the happiest is seeing the satisfied look on her customers’ faces when she hands them a custom-made creation from her shop. During the Saturday night rush when the line of customers wraps around the block, Liz gets a thrill from working with her staff. “You’re just banging out yogurts as fast as you can and all the staff is working like a wonderful machine together,” says Liz.
6. Have enough start-up capital. One of the lessons Liz learned while opening Loving Cup was being mindful of the expenses her store would incur. She didn’t factor in payroll and taxes, so she ended up having to borrow money from her parents. “Make sure to allow yourself enough capital to start up, but don’t forget you need working capital too until you start to turn a profit,” says Liz.
7. Bring in another perspective. When Liz met her husband, Dez, she had opened her first location of Loving Cup. As the business grew, Dez decided to quit his job as an attorney and work for Liz’s company instead. Since he’s joined, the brand has expanded to three locations, has a catering program and plans to expand outside of California. “Dez and I think about things differently, so he brought a new perspective and solved a lot of problems I never would have figured out,” says Liz.
Perfect Your Skills
1. Money Management for Your Small Business Online Class ($29): Like Liz learned, keeping your expenses in check is one part of running a profitable business. This online class with a financial coach will get you started on your way to understanding how to keep your financials in order.
2. Introduction to Frozen Desserts ($840): For ice cream enthusiasts and small business owners, this Ice Cream 101 course taught at Penn State University is a great way to learn the basics and the food science behind making sweet treats.
3. SquareUp Business Resource Center (Free): The site and app have tons of articles on its blog that are helpful for small business owners to stay current with industry trends, with topics like Four Common Mistakes New Businesses Make and How to Drive Sales to Your Website.
What’s your dream career? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know, and we could feature it in the next column!
(Photos via Loving Cup)