Our 2 year old son suddenly passed away due to an un-diagnosed disease, Adrenoleukodystrophy. This could have been treated if there was newborn screening for this disease. With other affected families, we fought to have a newborn screening bill passed in the CT Legislature. The politicians thanked us for our "grassroots effort" to pass the bill.
During this campaign for newborn screening, I saw a 'for rent' sign in the center of my hometown and decided that I needed a new and happy project to celebrate coming through these years of grief. We renovated the space and opened for business 30 days later. The newborn screening bill was signed into law on July 3, 2013 and the next day on July 4, 2013 Grassroots Ice Cream opened for the first time.
Traffic has increased dramatically through word of mouth and national attention in Yankee Magazine and USA today. We doubled our square footage in 2014 by expanding the creamery, and took on another 50 percent square footage in 2016.
We have a unique product and an almost cult-like enthusiastic customers that eagerly await the newest ice cream creations. At times customers wait in line before the shop opens so that they are sure to get a taste of a debut flavor. We attract customers from up to an hour radius from Massachusetts through Connecticut. According to Yankee Magazine travel guide 2016, our ice cream shop has become a destination spot serving some of the most unique handmade ice cream flavors in New England!
Grass Roots also works closely with some of the finest chefs in the area to create custom ice creams for their restaurants. There is no one else in the area willing to work directly with chefs on small batch ice cream creations.
We support many charitable causes. We are proud to have helped the local PTO, donated ice cream to community kitchens and provided funds to several humanitarian projects.
Every year the SBA recognizes outstanding small businesses. Grass Roots Ice Cream was selected as the CT SBA's Woman Owned Small Business of Year for 2017. Also, we just had our opening day for 2017. Much to our surprise, our fans were lined up for a half hour before the store opened. That was just as great an honor!
I had no business experience when we started Grass Roots Ice Cream and I seriously underestimated what it took to run a business. I took some of SCORE's workshops at the Simsbury Library. They were great for the limited amount of time I had available. And then I had an appointment with some mentors who gave me confidence and filled in missing pieces I didn't understand.
After some time passed, I realized that I needed someone to simply talk business to, so I returned to SCORE.
My mentors gave me perspective on my business and what we needed to do to grow and they also supported me through some challenges. As a new business owner I really appreciated how concientious my mentor was, making sure that he followed up on my progress and reached out to provide the support I needed.