Small Biz Spotlight: Sweet Republic in Phoenix, Arizona

Sweet Republic is a locally owned and operated artisan ice cream shop in Phoenix, AZ. Owners Jan and Helen take pride in using fresh, local ingredients in their distinctive recipes made from scratch. They are extremely passionate about sharing the pleasure of extraordinary ice cream with the local Phoenix community. I sat down with Jan to learn the secrets behind their award-winning ice creams, sauces, waffle cones, and more!

Why did you decide to start your business? Tell us your backstory!

Sweet Republic Artisan Ice Cream sprang from a serendipitous meeting of two passionate eaters who were racking up delicious international culinary experiences as a perk to their daytime finance professional personas. While colluding on dinner reservations at New York City’s most intriguing restaurants during the summer of 2001, neither my Singapore-based self, nor London-based Helen would have thought that our bonding over multiple dining adventures would lead to the opening of an artisan ice cream shop in Arizona.

It has been a sweet journey for us. Shortly after opening our doors in Scottsdale in the summer of 2008, Sweet Republic was named the Valley’s best ice cream by Phoenix New Times. Since then, our little ice cream shop has been recognized among the country’s best by USA Today, Time Magazine, and Bon Appetit magazine.  Sweet Republic has also been featured nationally on The Cooking Channel’s “Ultimate Sweets”, the Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and TLC’s “The Best Thing Ever.”

Why do you love doing business here in Phoenix?

We love the strong food community and abundance available here in Arizona. We are able to source milk and cream from Arizona dairies. We love being able to collaborate with other local small businesses. This means when you are tasting Sweet Republic ice cream, you are tasting Arizona. Our partner growers and suppliers include McClendon’s Select Farm, Cortez Coffee, Schnepf Farms, Freeman Corn Patch, and Welcome Chicken + Donuts.

What’s the most helpful piece of customer feedback you’ve received?

All customer feedback is helpful. Some customer feedback is more difficult to receive than others. However, you actually learn the most not when things are going right, but when they are going wrong. Customers’ honest feedback helped us to improve and enabled our business to continue to thrive. When the Yelp reviews are positive, that really helps our team stay passionate about what we do.

What’s your advice for other business owners or someone who wants to start a small business?

It’s about the journey, not the destination. It’s about waking up every day with a passion for every aspect of your business, down to the dirtiest, most avoided part of the job.  It’s about finding and partnering up with terrific people and nurturing the talent on your team. There will be problems that you can’t imagine or expect, and you can’t underestimate the amount of patience, persistence, and perspiration that will be required for your business to get off the ground and to succeed.

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