fresher than fresh: lindsay laricks interview

by Grace Bonney

it’s rare that i get a chance to post about two of my favorite things- design and food- in the same post. but today i’m thrilled to share an interview that not only combines both, but celebrates the idea of following your passion and turning it into a reality.

many of you know lindsay laricks from her work with brady vest at hammerpress– one of the most popular stationers around right now and a key member of the kansas city design scene (you might remember their sneak peek, too). in addition to her work with hammerpress, lindsay has been working on a side project which has now become a full-fledged business that combines her love of food, travel and organic farming.

fresher than fresh is lindsay’s fantastic new gourmet snowcone business that brings fresh, organic, natural treats to people via a customized (and painfully cute) 1957 shasta trailer. inspired by her own organic garden, lindsay started experimenting with flavored snowcones as a way to indulge in one of her passions- food. after testing out some really unique combinations like agave hibiscus, clemen*thyme, and blueberry sage, she decided to take her treats on the road and has been met with rave reviews ever since.

for me, lindsay’s new business is all about discovering what you love and finding a way to make it a reality. her story is both inspirational and relatable so i thought it would be fun to ask her a few questions about how she got started and what the process of starting her own business has been like. so i hope you’ll enjoy our interview and check out lindsay’s new snowcone business, fresher than fresh, right here. and if you’re lucky enough to be in lindsay’s neck of the woods, stop by her truck and have a snack. and don’t forget to say hi to snowie, her adorable mascot that sits on top of the trailer changing colors throughout the night.

CLICK HERE for lindsay’s full interview or just click “read more” below. [photography by sara farrar]

D*S: Hi Lindsay! I’ve been a big fan of yours since we first met at the Hammerpress Booth, but I’m thrilled to hear about your new venture. Could you tell us a bit about what you’re doing now?

Lindsay Laricks: I have a little side business called Fresher than Fresh where I make all natural ‘gourmet’ snow cones and sell them out of a renovated 1957 Shasta Trailer! I know how silly it is to use the words ‘gourmet’ and ‘snow cone’ in the same sentence, but that really sums it up best. My snow cone syrups are made from the freshest ingredients I can find and I even use some herbs from my garden. I gave it a sophisticated twist by coming up with unique and unexpected flavor combinations. I currently have about 7 core flavors:

-Lemon Prickly Pear
-Blackberry Lavender
-Watermelon Basil
-Lime Mint
-Espresso Mexican Cane Sugar
-Ginger Rose

I also offer something called the Daredevil Special every time I go out. This flavor constantly changes and tends to be a little more adventurous. It’s a great way to test out new recipes, give people a reason to keep coming back…and its my own little way of encouraging people to try new things.

So far the daredevil flavors have been:

-Blueberry Sage
-Coconut Vanilla Bean
-Agave Hibiscus (absolutely NO SUGAR. sweetened only with agave nectar! Lower in calories and still a delicious treat. This was such a hit, it might join the everyday lineup.)

I’d like to get even crazier with this in the future, but thought I’d warm up to people this first summer.

D*S: I’m curious to hear how you decided to open your new business- could you tell us a little about your background and what lead you to snowcones?

LL: Uh oh. This is where you might realize I’m a little bit of a spaz. I have really struggled when asked this question because there are so many pieces and parts to why this business came together, but if I have to choose, the biggest influences are:

1. Traveling to cities like Austin, Portland and New York and seeing so many fun food operations being conducted out of airstream trailers and trucks was extremely inspiring. NO ONE can deny how fun it is to indulge in food on wheels. It is silly. And fun. And delicious. It doesn’t matter if it is tacos, crepes, or cupcakes you instantly feel that rush that you felt as a kid when you chased the ice cream man down…your heart is beating, you want to jump up and down, you feel the pressure to pick something REALLY good because you don’t know when you might see him again…

2. Discovering that the house we moved into a few years ago had a gorgeous established organic garden. I gave it a little TLC and it started busting at the seams with fresh mint, sage, lavender, thyme, etc…. Everytime I went back to the garden to trim it back into shape, I kept thinking, “I could do something commercial with all these herbs!”

3. Might just list a few of my passions: travel, nature, vintage goods, japanese pop culture, graphic design, natural foods, organic farming, color, cuisine, local business, flavors, smells…feels like Fresher than Fresh is all of this wrapped into one.

D*S: Now that you’re running your own business- what are your favorite (and least favorite) parts of being your own boss?

LL: To be 100% honest, I run the snowcone business in addition to having a full time job, so it is certainly not my main source of income. But I worked as a freelance graphic designer for two years before I recently went back to work for someone else…so do know first hand the good AND the bad parts about being your own boss.

The parts I love: Running with your own vision. Creating something that intrigues people. Being able to ride the ebbs and flows of creative energy and NOT waking up everyday hoping that your creative genius will conveniently kick in from 9-5. Not having to explain why you make every move you make. Knowing that what I do makes people happy. That’s the really good part.

The parts I hate: I’m going to be honest, again. I am BAD at the business side of things. When I was a freelance designer, I quickly learned that the business side of things is every bit as important (and time consuming) as the creative side…and I naturally just wanted to do the creative side. So I was really good at designing…and very bad at pricing my work. I was very, very busy and soon found myself very, very broke. It was a humbling experience and it made me realize that being an entrepreneur is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted to do. So people who do it, and do it well, have my utmost respect.

I wish I could be an entrepreneurial success story here, but I think my story is more about falling down and getting back up…slower, wiser, and trying things on a smaller scale. Currently I have a full time job that allows me a little extra time to play with snow cones on the side. I’m doing it on my terms AND paying the rent. So my world is good again. Maybe I’ll leap out on my own again someday, but I definitely feel like I still have band aids on my knees from that last tumble…Live and learn, right?

D*S: What do you think sets your snowcones apart from the average cones on the street?

LL: Oh goodness, where do I start? Have you ever eaten a snowcone with tiny bits of fresh basil in it? :) Did you know that a ripe prickly pear is naturally a brilliant hot pink color? Have you ever had a flight of snow cone flavors??? Do those other snow cones come in a biodegradable cup?

There are no artificial colors or flavors in any of my recipes, so they don’t have the harsh effects like a lot of sweet treats out there. I think high fructose corn syrup is the devil. Its lurking everywhere…but not in MY snow cones! And they won’t stain your tongue for 24 hours…how’s that for starters?

D*S: You’re running your snowcone business from a converted trailer- could you tell us a little bit about that and why you chose a trailer over a regular office?

LL: Initially, I wanted an Airstream, but after researching them, I found that the little ones (a Bambi is what I had my eye on) are pretty hard to come by, were a little out of my price range and are a few thousand pounds! So then I stumbled upon the ‘canned ham’ style trailer and fell in love with the Shasta. It was just so darn cute, compact, and affordable.

I think the admission of my love for food on wheels above explains why I chose the trailer over a regular office…it was a must! Not to mention, the trailer is extremely eye catching. You really can’t miss it when you drive down the street, especially with Snowie glowing in all his splendor on top!

D*S: How is the business going so far- are you selling in stores or just directly to customers?

LL: The business is going great. Interesting people have come out of the woodwork in response to this and have been so supportive. I love, love, love seeing adults giggle like kids in a candy store when trying the Flight of Freshness. It’s sophisticated AND silly. Perfect.

I am currently just selling out of my trailer. No plans for any stores. I like keeping it super small and manageable right now.

D*S: So many of our readers dream of following their passion like you have- could you describe to them what was your “tipping point” that made you decide to follow this dream?

I had a taste test party at my house last summer and invited about 20-30 people over to test all the snow cone flavors. I made score cards for each flavor and asked my guests rank each flavor as well as provide tasting notes. It was such a fun night. The responses on the score cards still make me laugh to this day. Watching a large group of adults get so passionate about discussing the balance of blackberry and lavender was so fantastic. Everyone was responding exactly as I had hoped and that made me know that I wanted to follow through with this.

The real tipping point that lead to the trailer was probably when I received a phone call from the most wonderful banker you’ll ever meet. She said, “Hi Lindsay, this is Rita. Your boyfriend told me I should call you. He told us all about your snow cones. We’d really love to help you make this a reality. You should come in and talk to us.” So I did. I took out a small business loan in order to renovate the trailer and make it exactly what I wanted it to be. It certainly helps to have supportive people all around you.

D*S: Once you decided to start the business, what were the first few things you did to get started? Did you make a business plan and organize, or did you just dive in head first?

LL: Oh, shoot. Take a wild guess. I dove in head first….but in an organized way. ;)

D*S: What is your dream for your snowcone business?

LL: Right now, I’m really just loving it for what it is: small, manageable, it is “my happy place”.

I would however, like to travel with it more…

D*S: Do you have any advice for women out there looking to follow their passion and start a new business?

LL: Just be very honest with yourself.

If you are creative, then BE CREATIVE. If you aren’t good at the business side of things, then find someone who is. I don’t think you need to be good at everything to be a successful business owner. I think you just need to be very good at FINDING the right people to help you.

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