Yes, you can make a living selling popsicles. But it’s not easy.
Posted On December 12, 2018
So you want to be an entrepreneur, but don’t have that big, original idea that no one else has done? What about taking something that’s been done and putting your own twist on it, or simply doing it better?
That’s what Octavio and Shannon Arzola did. Some people may have thought our guests in this episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston” were crazy when they decided to open a gourmet popsicle stand in Gulfport, Miss. But in updating an old favorite, the popsicle, using fresh, all-natural ingredients, and going all-in to make their vision a reality, the Arzolas’ business has not only survived, but thrived.
Octavio, a native of Spain, had more than two decades of experience in fine dining as a chef, but when Shannon wanted to return home to Mississippi, they decided to pursue their grand idea. They’d seen a successful popsicle stand in Birmingham while living there and, as Shannon tells it: “My husband said, ‘This is really interesting, but I could make it taste a lot better than this.’”
With flavors like Oreo Cheesecake, Banana Costa Rica, Autumn Plum, and Lavender Milk and Honey, the Arzolas’ business, Pop Brothers Artisan Ice Pop Makers, now has locations in Ocean Springs, Gulfport and Bay St. Louis and takes its creations to festivals and events with 10 event carts.
How did they make it work? They leaned on the advice of Shannon’s brother, Chuck, an experienced entrepreneur; utilized Shannon’s contacts and skills as a Gulfport native with a background in sales and marketing; and sacrificed until Octavio’s creations took off, living off credit cards and reinvesting every cent back into the business.
“The second we made that decision, there was no coming back,” said Octavio, who makes 2,000 to 4,000 popsicles a day. “We put every single penny together we had together and put it into this. Failure was never an option.”
The Arzolas share why the idea of owning their own business was so alluring and why all-in was the only way to go, why they look to hire performing arts students as employees, and how they got national exposure through an appearance on the CNBC reality TV show “Billion Dollar Buyer.”
“If you have an idea and you’ve done your homework … and you don’t have tons of capital, it can work,” Shannon said. “You just have to be willing to make those sacrifices and do without.
“I had a big background in being broke, so I was good at it.”