In December 2019, the ThriveNorth program successfully completed its five-year mandate. Managed by Futurpreneur Canada, the program helped young entrepreneurs in Northern B.C. launch and grow their businesses by connecting them with resources, financing and mentorship.
The recipe for launching a successful business is different for every entrepreneur, but most have at least two ingredients in common: a whole lot of passion and the support of your local community.
For almost a decade, Amy Brockmeyer has worked as an elementary school teacher and has been living in Hazelton, BC since 2011. Outside of the classroom, Amy found solace in activities like knitting, sewing, gardening and cooking.
While her other hobbies were welcome creative outlets for Amy, it was her passion for cooking, and more specifically, making ice cream, that inspired her to start her business, A+ Ice Cream.
She loved the process of experimenting with various ice cream flavours, and after sharing her creations with family and friends, she decided to test the entrepreneurial waters and start selling her artisanal dessert at her local farmer’s market.
“I simply wanted to share my love of ice cream with my community,” says Amy.
However, making ice cream for your friends or family is one thing, but turning a homemade treat into a full-fledged business turned out to be much more complicated than she expected.
For instance, one big hurdle that Amy had to overcome was the fact that ice cream is considered a high-risk food, which means she had to jump through a lot of hoops in order to be cleared to sell her product.
“Before I could do anything, I had to apply and be approved by Northern Health in order to sell ice cream and that was a huge undertaking,” Amy explains. “I had to find a [commercial, government- approved] kitchen to rent and then get a food safety plan approved.”
Still, despite the uphill climb to start her business, Amy was able to launch A+ Ice Cream in August 2017 and her product is already a hit in her local community and at seasonal markets like the Hazelton Farmer’s Market.
“So far, the ice cream has sold out every week,” says Amy. “The market has been a great help and a wonderful place to start selling my ice cream.”
She’s also already planning improvements to take her business to the next level.
“This year I sold my ice cream in canning jars with tiny labels that customers could return for a deposit. Next year I am hoping to have 500ml glass jars with nice big A+ Ice Cream labels,” says Amy.
Before launching A+ Ice Cream, Amy attended a ThriveNorth workshop that helped give her more insight into what to expect when starting a business.
“The workshop helped me wrap my head around some logistics and put things in a practical perspective,” she said. “Going to the workshop allowed me to apply for a grant, which I received! The grant covered my start-up costs and allowed me to actually get out and sell at my first Farmers’ Market.”
The workshop also gave her a key piece of advice that helped give her the motivation she needed to turn her business idea into a reality.
“The [ThriveNorth workshop] instructor said to not wait for things to be perfect, just get out there and start selling. That really pushed me to start making and selling A+ Ice Cream.”
To learn more about Futurpreneur Canada’s Northern BC initiative ThriveNorth, click here.
Written by: Sara Pivato, Social Media & Content Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada