In honour of Women’s Month in August, I am sharing this story of early start-up entrepreneur Kristen Buttress, owner of Kristen’s Kick Ass Ice Cream in the quaint Noordhoek village.
Who is Kristen?
She grew up in La Porte, Indiana, and then travelled throughout America and Australia for 15 years as a travelling nurse.
She met her husband, Mark, when holidaying in South Africa and they got married in December 2014.
How she entered this field is interesting. She received an ice cream maker as a wedding present and out of self-interest began to research how to make her own ice cream by cross referencing cookbooks, Pinterest, and food blogs before coming up with her own style of ice cream.
She then created a social media account on Instagram as a passion project, and her brand grew organically from there. Initially she worked out of her home kitchen, personally delivering bespoke creations to her Instagram followers.
Two movers and shakers from the village then approached her with the opportunity to open a shop, and 12 months after receiving the initial churner as a present, she has scaled the shop to offer her personal brand of top quality, exclusive, yet playful ice creams.
What does it mean to her to be an entrepreneur?
She loves the freedom of being her own boss and setting the pace and direction for her business.
Kristen’s career in the medical field taught her invaluable lessons that helped being a business owner, such as multitasking, team leadership, as well as the organic chemistry behind the actual food science of ice cream. This experience has honed Kristen to find immense gratification in being the sole person in charge of every aspect of the shop’s potential success.
What has support meant to her?
Mark not only helped guide Kristen in necessary business requirements which she had little experience in, such as registration of business; opening a business banking account, and obtaining the necessary health and safety certification, but he also has provided constant encouragement.
While Kristen evinces strong self-belief in her product, she has been stretched in engaging in a totally new industry to that of her training. Her husband’s support, encouragement and belief in her has formed the backbone of her confidence to take that leap from passion project to business owner.
What has been the biggest lesson?
She answered this one with a grin, and said she had learnt that anything is achievable with focus and an “extensive Google search”.
Also that it’s not enough to have a great product. A business must have systems in place to manage the day to day mini-fires that come up, including the simple yet catastrophic events such as running out of change, power cuts, or supplier disruptions.
What is her advice to budding entrepreneurs?
She encouraged them to find something that they were genuinely passionate about, where they are so engaged with their business, that they could happily work a 14-hour day to achieve a product that they are proud of.
In addition, when facing the often quoted challenge of no, or little money, she encouraged them to create, and curate, their own brand on social media or other free forms of marketing; and if opportunities arise (and they do), to act on them.
What is her five-year plan?
Kristen would like to see her brand ingrained into the community; being a special place where anyone and everyone is welcome to share special moments.
She sees the possibility of potential expansion, but in a delicate progression that would be loyal to her brand identity of small batch, “made with love” ice cream.
Like other entrepreneurs, Kristen is able to see an opportunity, manage the risk and then, in her words, “It might not be pretty, but I’ll get there!” Both my wife and I have been amazed at the quality and experience of this delicious offering.
May her story encourage you to pursue your dream.
* Steve will be conducting short two-hour courses in entrepreneurship for Bergvliet High School’s continued education programme. You can find the prospectus on the website www.bhs.org.za under “Continuing Ed”, or contact Katharine Miles on 082 409 2195 for details.