Several months ago, ok, maybe a year ago, I was inspired to start a blog series called "Boss Lady". The mission behind Boss Lady is to inspire young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs. 
My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between.  

Photo by Jacob Slaton Photography

Sally Mengel of Loblolly Creamery
Sally and I met several years ago when I moved back to Little Rock. We have teamed up on several special events and have even collaborated on an ice cream cone charm exclusive to Loblolly! If you have ever met Sally, you know she is a treat to work with! Literally!!

I think I was meant to make and sell sweets. One year for Halloween when I was a kid, I dressed up as a candy salesman and I have never turned away desserts, never. Sophomore year of college I started a student-run coffee cart. It still runs today and it has upgraded to a kiosk. I started to work at an ice cream store as well in Atlanta during that same time. These two jobs were the inspiration and foundation to start Loblolly Creamery. Loblolly did not start as an ice cream business. It kind of just snowballed into it. It started as an off-shoot of The Green Corner Store. The owner, Shelley Green, gave me the opportunity to start a small soda fountain in the front of the store. Thus birthed Loblolly Creamery. Oh yeah, I have two awesome parents. I grew up in North of Boston and Saint Louis for most of my life. I have a dog named Moo. 

  1. Give us your elevator pitch. Loblolly Creamery is a small-batch, handcrafted ice creamery based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Everything is made from scratch using local, seasonal, and fair-trade ingredients. We have a traditional soda fountain in the heart of the SoMa neighborhood, we cater with our solar-powered ice cream mobile, and we sell our ice cream at grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants around Arkansas. We also make handcrafted French macarons, marshmallows, and baked goods.

  2. What is your business? Ice Cream!

  3. When did you start your business? In November 2011 we made our first ice cream for the 1st Annual Arkansas Cornbread Festival. We purchased our ice cream machine the day before. It was Buttermilk Ice Cream that we topped on our caramel cornbread. We won the nontraditional cornbread category. We opened the Soda Fountain on April 1st, 2012.

  4. What inspired you to make the leap? There was no locally-made, locally-sourced ice cream and I love ice cream. The history of the Lincoln building also inspiring. The building was built in 1905 for Dawson Drug Store. It was a pharmacy and soda fountain till 1967. I wanted to bring the history back of the soda fountain with handcrafted ice cream and sodas.

  5. What helps you get started each morning? COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE and my dog, Moo.

  6. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business. I get to the Loblolly Kitchen around 9am at the latest. I get organized for the day with the kitchen crew, check our orders, and then I get to churning ice cream. I churn ice cream till 2pm and then I may have a team meeting, sales meeting, or event planning. I may have an event in the evening and work on the Loblolly ice cream truck.

  7. What keeps you motivated? Getting to be creative with flavors, collaborating with other businesses on events and pop-up menus, and my kick-ass team.

  8. Describe your dream day. Other than visiting another country or going on a road trip. An ideal day off would look like: Sleep in, putter around the house, maybe go for a long walk, hike, water hole swim, soccer game, or bike ride, a meal on a sunny patio with friends or my family, and then end the night with a movie with my boo Michael.

  9. What is your greatest strength/super power? My laugh, its loud.

    pint picture

  10. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? Facebook for events, Instagram for inspiration.

  11. What do you do in your free time? Play pick-up soccer, water my house-plant collection, visit other dessert shops (research), support my friends in local bands or art shows, hang with Moo and Michael.

  12. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? Yippeee! I would become a USDA dairy and start to pasteurize raw milk so I can make goat and cow milk ice cream with Arkansas dairy. Maybe even invest in a dairy farm and have our own Loblolly herd.

  13. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go? Besides starting this business with little food manufacturing, financial, and business know how? Hmmmm...probably purchasing a 20 year old food truck sight unseen. It was a huge risk to invest but I think it has paid off. We can be part of people's weddings and parties, vend at festivals, and take our ice cream all over Arkansas. But it took almost a year to renovate and fix up the truck. It was a learning lesson. Also, pay your taxes on time. That is a risk.

    ice cream truck

  14. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable? I hate book keeping, excel spreadsheets, food costing, basically anything with numbers other than a recipe. I needed help (badly) and I hate asking for help but I did. Now we have a CEO, a book keeper, and other Loblollians that keep up with food costs and sales numbers. Asking for help has gotten easier because I have a great team that wants to help Loblolly. Also listening to music and making fake deadlines help with any computer work that I have (most of the time).

  15. How do you handle discouragement? Deep breath

  16. Which iconic person inspires you? Badass women in the food scene inspire me like, Jeni Britton Bauer, Christina Tosi, Alice Waters and Nigella Laweson.  I love how they have bold and unique voices with their food. They have strong missions that they carry out with their food and they continue to innovate with their flavors. Also, Dominique Ansel is inspiring with his inventive desserts (i.e., creator of the cronut). For good reading about the food business, I look to Ari Weinzweig's books about his business, Zingerman's.  

  17. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote? 'Diva' is a female version of a Hustler -Beyonce

  18. If you could choose anyone to pick as a mentor, who would you choose? Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream or Beyonce.


  19. Who are you in your next life? A Toucan

  20. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business? Find me time. Ask for help. Be flexible.

  21. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs? Start slow. Invest in a bookkeeper. Learn how to cost and don't charge too little for your services. Make sure it is a passion, almost an obsession and a love.


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Camille said:

This was a pleasure to read! I smiled a few times and even laughed out loud once.

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