Rebecca Rouas of SF Pops has a contagious enthusiasm for her business, her product, and just for people in general. It's obvious she's a former educator; kids practically flock to her farmers market booth and it's not just for the popsicles themselves: her warm smile and encouragement to try new, potentially unfamiliar flavors (chocolate avocado!) elicit excitement from customers and vendors alike. On an average afternoon, you'll see Rebecca's chalkboard sign advertising flavors including Strawberry Chocolate, Vanilla Orange, Strawberry Lemonade, Mandarin Beet, and Blood Orange Mint. New additions appear when inspiration hits or when new seasonal fruits hit the stands.
On an early Saturday morning full of little sleep and lots of schlepping, Rebecca and husband Sean's warm smile and positive energy are always a welcome sight. And some of this absolutely must be one of the reasons their business has taken off so quickly, so I set out to learn more about the origin of the company, why Rebecca and Sean hang in there even on rainy days at the market, and how she envisions the business growing.
1. Tell me a little about your business and how/why you decided to start it.
SF POPS makes seasonal fruit ice pops made from locally-sourced produce. Our goal is to provide a sustainable, tasty treat for kids and adults alike. I really enjoy experimenting with innovative flavor combinations like plum honey cardamom, but it is also a pleasure to make the kid pleasers like strawberry lemonade. The idea for SF POPS stems from a recent trip to Oahu where I had an Ono Pop-- a locally sourced fruit pop. I had the Passion-Orange-Guave (POG), and it was incredible. I realized that the abundance of awesome local produce in California would allow me to do something similar in the Bay Area.
2. Do you think living in the Bay Area allows your business to flourish? If so, how so?
Absolutely. Bay Area folks appreciate a healthy, local, sustainable product. Also, the love of food in the Bay Area results in a lot of interest in my product. Finally, and most important to me, I am able to get all of my produce from within a 200 mile radius of the North Bay.
3. What have been the highlights of being a small business owner in the Bay Area thus far?
The social aspect. For me, I am able to interact with people when I work, which beats sitting at a computer any day. I have also become educated about local produce, seasonal availability and varieties, and I also use my business as an opportunity to educate my customers about the same. Finally, I enjoy watching people eat a Meyer Lemon Honey Mint pop so I can watch them pucker at first lick.
4. What challenges are you facing right now in terms of growth or vision?
My biggest challenge right now is getting SF POPS from the stall to the grocery store freezer. Although the farmers markets are a wonderful sales outlet, the ice pop season is limited and will be wrapping up at the end of September. Ideally, SF POPS will still be available for purchase without me having to sit out in soggy, cold weather.
5. What inspires you, day to day?
Motivated people. When I meet or hear about people who have their acts together I am inspired. It has been exhausting starting a small business, and I often felt like calling it off and taking a seat back on the couch.
6. What are your goals for the future of SF Pops?
Keep on selling pops, push to get pops at birthday parties, get pops into small grocery stores, and come back next season with even more incredible ice pops!