Jeni Britton Bauer eats ice cream every single day. While that's become a quarantine habit for a lot of us, it's actually a key component of Jeni's job. That’s because she’s the founder and chief creative officer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, an artisanal ice cream company she started after dropping out of Ohio State. Jeni joined us this week to tell us why dropping out was the best thing she ever did. And how her hustle in the early days helped her create an ice cream empire.
Carly: When we look back on our life, like, we have different forks in the road of like, "Thank goodness I chose that path." But at the time you probably don't even realize it's a fork. Or you're like, "This was the hardest thing to go through." You dropping out of college... I want you to take us back to that moment [and] that thought process.
Jeni: .... Sometimes the things that seem like your disadvantages can be your advantages. I mean, I was really on my own at that time. My dad had been out of my life for a long time. And my mother was just really sick. And so there was really no one in my life to say, "Are you crazy? Don't drop out." It was the best thing I ever did. If I hadn't dropped out I would've racked up way too many loans. And I wouldn't have been able to start my business.
…. I didn't have any money. And I didn't have any family to give me money. I had nothing. So I had to figure out how to make that work.
Jeni: First of all, I think, I'm maybe the only one in America who thinks this, I think that… entrepreneurship is fundamental. It’s innate. We are born with the skills to trade up, you know what I mean, to make something and trade with each other and to want to make things better and that curiosity.
…. It’s about caring for others. It's about creating a sense of belonging. It's about listening to feedback. It's about what you want, [and] merging your passion with what other people want. That's what creates your business. Everything else, in terms of, actual business-business acumen, you know, the law of business and marketing and HR and finance, all of that you can hire people for, right?
Everybody who's getting an MBA is gonna work for somebody like me, right? I mean, not everybody, but you know what I mean? I think that if you really wanna start a business, go learn about your customers. Go spend time actually making something…. I come from the 'start small and build' world of business. And I think from there you can do almost anything that you want…. So that's really what I did is just one foot in front of the other, one dollar. I just stretched it as far as I possibly could every single time.
Skimm'd by Alex Carr and Marion Lozano
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