MEET: Buzzed Bull Creamery
One of the best things about the event planning industry is the amazing vendors we get to work with! These people are some of the most creative and kind people you will meet. Each month in our Meet Series we introduce you to some of these creative entrepreneurs. In this series, we will get to know a little about the businesses these entrepreneurs have created and what drives them to be successful.
I’m a huge fan of ice cream, I’ve made it at home since I was a teenager. I even had an ice cream machine in college. You can imagine my excitement when I got the chance to sit down with Kaitlyn of Buzzed Bull Creamery in Cincinnati. Their enjoyment of ice cream and bourbon has blossomed into a growing enterprise that has impacted the way we think of ice cream and how the local laws work.
I always like to begin with getting to know how Buzzed Bull Creamery got started?
Great question! My husband Colten and I were living in Florida at the time and one night we were eating ice cream and drinking bourbon. He has always been innovative, and while sitting there we were thinking how can we get the two together. We’d have a bite of the ice cream and then a sip of our bourbon and it was good together. We started tinkering at with a basic at home ice cream maker. We were inspired by the experience of ordering a cocktail at a bar where you can customize the type of liquor you want and how much. We wanted to bring that to ice cream.
On one of our trips to Cincinnati, where we are both from, while talking about the idea with some friends one of them point blank asked ‘why we don’t we move back and start it here?’. That night we agreed to go home and move back to Cincinnati. We sold our house and one of our cars to move back and start our team. Our goal had always been to start a business together and when this came about, we were finally able to.
You brought two foods that you really enjoyed to really carve out a new product category. Where did you come up with the name Buzzed Bull Creamery?
We started off with over 400 names that our team compiled into a group chat. We agreed to narrow it down to 40 and then 10 during that last round at some point we came up with Buzzed Bull Creamery. We didn’t want just, ice cream so we opted for creamery instead. Our team liked the alliteration and how buzzed represented our boozy offerings. We offer both buzzed (alcoholic) and non-buzzed (non-alcoholic) offerings and just felt like it fit and captivated the whole team. It didn’t feel cheesy or gimmicky, but more of timeless feel that could evolve and develop with us over time.
Same with our store design, we wanted to be classic, natural, and always relevant to us. Didn’t want to create something that we had to renovate every year or so. We actually designed our logo ourselves and is something we all love.
The whole team jumped in and got started building this concept, did you run into any struggles getting things up and running with such a unique product?
Yes, we did. We hold our own liquor license because our ice cream actual has liquor not just flavoring in the mix.
It took us over a year and a half to find our first store location. Other dessert stores had exclusivity agreements with development companies, malls, and strip malls. When they have over 90% of the real estate in some way in the area it made it very difficult for us as a new business. We found our current place on Craigslist one night and started the construction ourselves. We learned the next level of regulations, one being the liquor laws, building codes, but also dairy processing. There were some politics throughout the process, but we were so consumed in our concept and idea up until our opening date.
After a few weeks, we had so many reviews up that turned out to be constructive criticism. That really helped us learn a lot about our client experience and how to improve our process right off the bat.
We had to have faith in the market studies we had because we were a new concept. It was hard to apply for a liquor license because the state laws weren’t defined very well on what we needed to do and we didn’t want to have any missteps with the application process. With our current license, we are limited to serve buzzed drinks or products on premise. Meaning we couldn’t sell anything to take home or make at a different site like an event. It really created an opportunity for us to educate and get creative with our events.
But we have been very involved with our local state representative and have worked with their office to help redefine these laws. We met with a team of people in Columbus to review the specifics of writing the new law, how the changes will affect the process and the implications for other business in the marketplace. For example, we can’t sell in Kroger yet but hope to after the laws change.
It sounds like it has become a family affair, how have you divided up roles?
Once we decided Cincy was it, we knew we needed more help. We have my brother-in-law who is Colten’s brother and my mother-in-law. Then really good family friends the Ayers who has been a true asset with construction and development.
It surprises people to hear we have no culinary or science background between our team. We didn’t have to be an expert but were still able to be an expert and learn everything to get here.
When we first started, everyone was construction workers and helped build. I have always handled PR and Marketing. Colten comes as the creative visionary that directs and know the business inside and out. Shane, my brother-in-law, is the Operations guy and manages the store. My mother-in-law handles the bookkeeping, accounting, and payroll. Keith is our head of maintenance, construction, and franchise development.
Can you share a little about events you are part of?
We can now do an on-site cart for your event with both buzzed and non-buzzed. The non-buzzed products can be made on-site and distributed. Or we can do our mobile cart to really have a show with our nitrogen tanks, with your event planner or venue providing the liquor for us to use, so we can create buzzed ice cream.
We can make it before the event and service it for you or you can self-serve like at an ice cream cart. Or we can make it fresh at the event with the nitrogen and display for an interactive experience with your guests. The little bit of a show really creates a lot of excitement at an event.
For non-buzzed it can be the same way, you can pick it up at the store, we can make it and deliver, or attend the event and serve, or be made on-site fresh. It is most common for people to offer a mix of both buzzed and non-buzzed at their event.
I’ve seen mentions of wholesale and franchise opportunities, how has the growth been going for you?
Franchising came from one of our hiccups. No one would sit with us because we were too new of a concept and business. We had a company approach us and want to talk to us about growth opportunities. Our growth strategy has always been to add more locations. Being self-financed we needed to be strategic in our growth so we didn’t take on more than we could handle but we want to share the brand and concept across the country.
We started wholesaling for Thanksgiving in 2018 and didn’t anticipate the excitement it would have. We can only do non-boozy at this point but have been very excited by how well it has been doing.
We’ve also partnered with Sammy’s Craft Burger and Beers to craft a unique dessert menu that includes many of our ice creams in their milkshakes. We made an exclusive flavor, Blood Orange Sorbet, for Purple Poulet (is that correct spelling - yes ma’am) in Northern Kentucky. We have also worked with Midwest Meal Prep to launch an exclusive low-calorie high protein pints. Roll On In sells our pints as well and they sold out in 24 hours the first day.
Hoping this springtime we will be able to launch the boozy ice cream. A change to the law is on the ballot to be voted soon, so we will see. We are ready though, so when it does come we are prepared to launch it and get out in the market.
What is your goal for Buzzed Bull Creamery over the next 3 to 5 years?
We are ready to see Buzzed Bull go national and be available to everyone. We have already had the packaging ready to go and the nutrition labels figured out. We are all registered and working with lawyers on the national level to plan the next steps for grocery and online sales.
What has been the most exciting part of this process for you?
Buzzed Bull got started in 2017, I have goosebumps just thinking about how far we have come in the last 2 years. It is incredibly humbling, and an experience beyond what I could have ever imagined.
Really seeing your dream and goals come to life and being able to live it each and every day. We built those benches and laid the floor ourselves. With a little, well a lot of determination you can get there. It’s really incredible.
With all of that time together, what does the Buzzed Bull Team do in their free time?
We have a really intense week with early morning starts so we try to rest on the weekend and relax to reenergize. We love to work out and have competed in powerlifting or figure competitions. Just relaxing over the weekend keeping it low key with movies, eating, shopping really helps reenergizes.
Oh in case you have been wondering you do not have to have a beard to work there….but it is perfectly ok if you do!
Buzzed Bull Creamery is a handcrafted creamery serving made-to-order blends you will buzz about. Located in Cincinnati. You can find out more at https://www.buzzedbullcreamery.com/. You can find Kaitlyn and the team on Instagram @buzzedbullcreamery.