Success Story: Barb Zapzalka, Owner of Pumphouse Creamery

WomenVenture Entrepreneur of the Month for June

As an avid food lover, Barb Zapzalka desired to be in the restaurant industry. Fueled with ambition and curiosity, she started brainstorming and researching what she wanted to pursue. To Barb's surprise, it was ice cream that kept resonating in her head. She questioned whether making ice cream on a commercial level would allow her to support herself. After taking an ice cream-making class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and researching costs, funding possibilities, and all things business- and ice cream-related from books, she started writing her business plan.

Barb came to WomenVenture for consulting while starting to set up her business. She received guidance, referrals to accountants and loan resources. The steps Barb was taking propelled her to tell many of her friends and family about the journey she was starting. "The more people I told, the more initiative it gave me to follow through," she said. 

Still working her full-time job and coping with a sick family member put time constraints on her business plans. Another challenge was learning about all the city licenses, certifications for handling food and codes she would need to follow. "It was a very overwhelming time," she said. Yet one year after Barb began researching her concept, she was ready to open her business. "Buying my ice cream machine and making my first batch was a big moment for me." 

Launched in 2003, Pumphouse Creamery is a handcrafted ice cream shop on 48th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis. With very unique flavors, it often has people lining up out the door for a taste of the deliciousness. "I randomly come up with ideas and make all the ice cream myself," Barb said. 

Pumphouse Creamery ice cream is made with local ingredients and organic dairy from a farmer whom Barb has been in business with for 10 years. "It has been challenging the past few years dealing with rising costs for my ingredients. I’m always trying to manage making a product that is affordable for my customer," she said. 

With her ice cream sold at various co-ops, neighborhood grocery stores and Kowalski's Markets around town, Barb is very happy with the success her business has had. "I always thought that if I was passionate about what I was doing and was happy, the financial piece would work itself out," she said. "It has been a very rewarding and humbling experience running a sustainable business. It has had an impact on my self-esteem and given me a sense of integrity and responsibility." 

Barb cites WomenVenture as a helpful resource and anchor providing comradery and support. "The consultant offered wisdom and business sense. My plan still holds true today," Barb said. 

For more info on Barb's business, Pumphouse Creamery, visit www.pumphouse-creamery.com .