1. Name: LaThesia R. Hardy
2. Business Name: Chill Pop Lounge
3.What inspired you to build your own business?
I was your typical corporate American gal traveling on business and came across a cute (and tempting) ice pop shop. While there I observed the happy energy of children and adults, some casual and some in business attire, together in one place laughing and enjoying their frozen treats. In that moment all the stresses of the day melted away. Moved by this experience, I knew I needed to create an environment in my community where people could relax and “kick back and CHILL!”
While there, I was blessed to meet the owner who told me he had a similar experience while on vacation with his family. Since that time, he has been gracious enough to share his experiences, his challenges, his opportunities. His willingness to share these things has definitely made me a better and smarter business owner.
4. What influences your work?
My need to ensure that everything we do for Chill Pop Lounge is done with the utmost thought and care. From the ingredients that go into our pops and shakes to the passion and love we share when making our fabulous pops!
I also believe that a key to our success in the service industry is to have well trained, motivated people who have high morale, integrity, and aptitude. Everyone on the Chill Pop team is excited to be part of Chill Pop Lounge!
5. What sets you apart from your competitors?
Chill Pop Lounge sells hand-crafted, high-end, gourmet ice pops made with fresh ingredients (locally sourced and organic when possible). As far as I know, we are the only frozen dessert in the Lake Nona area that offers these gourmet, handmade ice pops (both healthy and decadent options). I’m also not aware of any local businesses serving sinfully delicious adult pops (Chill Pop 21+) and adult boozy shakes. Some flavor options for our Chill Pop 21+ frozen treats include our two bestselling items, Pina Colada Escape and Blue Lagoon. Our bestselling shakes include Kahlua & Cream and Twisted Key Lime!
Our shakes start with your choice of gourmet hand-dipped ice cream (which is also made fresh from a local vendor). Many of our biggest fans have been around since we were in a little Key West blue Food Truck serving up our Strawberry Patch, Butter Pecan, Good Ol’ Chocolate or Very Vanilla Bean ice cream! We love seeing our loyal customers smile with each bite and ooh and aaah as they try new offerings.
6. How did you acquire your skills?
I assembled a team of amazing individuals who make up the brain-trust of Chill Pop Lounge!
As a first step in bringing my vision of offering healthy, gourmet, hand-crafted ice pops to Central Florida, I opened our charming Key West vibes food truck. I managed and worked the Chill Pop Lounge food truck gaining valuable experience and as mentioned earlier, an incredible loyal following (you know who you are)! Additionally, I bring a vast amount of knowledge to the Chill Pop Lounge team from my extensive experience of working with people. I worked in the field of Human Resource Management for over 25 years and I am a Certified Professional in Human Resources.
As I said, I have a team of amazing individuals.
- Reginald (Reggie) Adams, Chill Sergeant. Many of you have been personally blessed to have Reggie serve you with his cheerful nature, smile and positive energy! What many of you may not know, is that he manages the daily operations of the Chill Pop Lounge. As a Sergeant First Class, Reggie operated as Senior Human Resource Management for approximately 1,000 Soldiers. He supervised reporting procedures, training and development. He brings all these skills, and more to our team.
- Jennifer Hall, Executive Administrator and organizational guru. Jennifer makes sure that Chill is present in the community through booking events, managing our social media, and keeping us organized and in the know! Many of you have been around her un-ending energy and infectious happiness when booking an event with Chill!
- Shirley Potenza, Popoligist. Shirley has been an avid cook since the age of twelve when she would cook the family meals many nights of the week. She is the creative force behind our handcrafted ice pop recipes and is passionate about bringing interesting and ever-changing seasonal flavors to you – our customers! You should hear some of the crazy concoctions this woman comes up with that never make it on the menu board!!! As much as she loves experimenting and being in the kitchen, Shirley also brings extensive business experience to Chill Pop Lounge. She is a Certified Public Accountant and also holds Certifications in Financial Forensics, Valuation and Fraud.
- LaThesia (Te) Hardy, Pop Star, Owner. As mentioned earlier, I opened the Chill Pop Lounge food truck as a first step in bringing my vision of offering happiness and a place to “CHILL” and de-stress in the Lake Nona/Harmony/Osceola area. My goal is to bring families, communities and people together for some time to relax, put down their phones and get to know each other!
7. Describe your typical work day.
As with most small business start-ups, there is no typical day. What we like to think of as a typical day would be to excitedly prepare the shop to welcome you, our amazing customers. We hope to delight you by serving you a favorite treat and put a smile on your face (and in your tummy)! Throughout the day we also shop for and prepare the fresh ingredients that become a part of our delightful Chill Pops. You may also find us serving our deliciousness at local events, be it at a school, workplace or private gathering. We always love the rave reviews we hear our customers get when serving our unique treats at parties and events!!
8. What has been your biggest success?
Opening Chill Pop Lounge in July 2015 and continuing as a successful small business in the community has allowed me to realize my dream of bringing a delectable product and happiness to my community.
9. What has been your biggest challenge?
Having to move out of our charming Key West vibes food truck trailer due to development of a shopping center. However, out of that challenge has come our great new location where we have brought that same Key West vibe indoors! We love to see everyone’s reaction the first time they walk in and see our little Key West “home.” We’ve been asked if we took part of our food truck and brought it inside, but nope, our food truck is still intact. Jennifer had the great idea of building that so you get the same fabulous atmosphere when you walk in the front doors (again, I do have an amazing team of creative people)!
10. If you had the chance to go back with the knowledge you have now, what would you do differently?
NOTHING! I would not unlearn all the lessons God has taught me along this fabulous journey!
11. What advice do you have for anyone trying to start their own business?
Be curious and learn all you can. Attend SBA classes to gain knowledge regarding owning a business- the classes are free! Find a business owner to mentor you prior to opening your business! Have 3 times the amount of startup funds than you think that you will need!!!
12. Where can people find you?
From Lake Nona, we are ¼ mile from Narcoosee Elementary School on the left. Our exact location is: 2483 N Narcoossee Rd in St Cloud. We are 2 ¼ miles south of Boggy Creak next to the Circle K / BP gas station next to Circle K. You can also find us on the web at www.chillpoplounge.com and of course you should “Like” our Facebook page!