We got in touch with Sweet Cream Company owners, Joe and Jessica Kastner, to tell us a little more about their boutique ice cream shop located on Columbia's historic Main Street and how they developed their business.
Q: What makes you so unique?
A: We make a lot of traditional, as well as unique flavors, using organic dairy and local ingredients as much as possible. We love forming friendships with local farmers, smaller businesses and artisans. We are so fortunate to live in an area where we have so many quality resources to use in our ice cream.
Q: Why did you open Sweet Cream?
A: We wanted to work together and we were tired of all the franchise stores. We are both very creative and wanted to make something fun and most importantly, make a product that makes people happy.
Q: Why did you choose Columbia?
A: We chose Main Street in Columbia because we saw an opportunity for growth and progress. There is a beautiful, vibrant energy here on Main Street. We wanted to be downtown, close to Mast General, the Columbia Museum of Art, and the Nickelodeon Theatre. We knew the customer base that we wanted would be drawn to creative, different and artistic venues.
Q: This idea is kind of risky. Why did you think Sweet Cream would succeed in the Columbia market?
A: We put our all into everything we do. Failure is never an option, so we are constantly thinking of how we can make our business better, adapting and overcoming different situations, and making smarter decisions.
Q: Did you have any difficulties when opening your own business?
A: Like any small business, there were a lot of hoops to jump through. We weren't a franchise and it's our first business, so there's always a learning curve when building a business from scratch.
Q: How long have you both been in business?
A: We have had Sweet Cream Co. now for over four years. Prior to our business, we were both in the design/building field.
Q: How has Sweet Cream grown since then?
A: In addition to our retail store, we sell our ice cream online and ship nationally. We also sell wholesale to local smaller restaurants and retailers.
Q: What is something interesting about your business?
A: We wanted to do something special for our furry visitors that come and see us, so we started making frozen dog treats. We sell these year-round and we personally match every dollar. Through the years, we have donated over four thousand dollars to smaller animal rescues.
Q: Is it just you two who are the owners? If so, has it always been just you two?
A: We are the only two people who own Sweet Cream Co. For the first three years, it was just us working. We work non-stop. Last year, we were able to start hiring employees. Payroll is one of the few expenses you can control, and we wanted to make sure that we were established before we incurred that additional expense.
Q: What advice would you give to someone, like yourselves, who wants to open a new business?
A: You'll get out of it what you put in. If you dedicate yourself to your business and work hard, you will succeed.