I grew up in the country. We had a long dirt driveway off the highway that led to our home in the middle of an apple orchard. We didn’t have neighbors, we didn’t have trash service, and we didn’t have any of the things that come with living within city limits. After I got married, we bought a home in a “real” neighborhood in the suburbs, and I soon learned about all the cool stuff that happens when you live on a paved street. Like riding bikes on a sidewalk, or saying hello to neighbors when you see them. And the sounds of trash cans rolling out to the curb on a Sunday night. And the ice cream truck. Oh, we love that guy. Yes, the song is definitely a bit creepy, but nothing feels more like summer then sitting on the curb with some sort of ice cream or popsicle dripping down your face and hands. My kids choose the ones that leave their lips, teeth and tongue permanently blue. I prefer the ones that I remember eating when I was a child. A good popsicle is hard to pass on. I’m glad that Erin has a passion for making good popsicles. And I’m happy that her products are made with a genuine sense of old fashioned happiness. Meet Erin of Front Porch Pops!
Please introduce yourself.
Hi! I’m Erin, POPrietor from Front Porch Pops. I’m originally from Seattle, but I moved here just about 5 years ago when my fiancé was in graduate school at Chapman. Landing in Old Towne Orange was probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I’m a city girl at heart and love spending time in New York, but I fell in love with the sense of community and the people in Orange.
What do you make or do?
I make and serve gourmet popsicles, ice cream, pies…lots of tasty treats. On any given day, you’ll probably find me at a farmer’s market, a kid’s birthday party or at a wedding serving up our delicious frozen pops, or as we like to call it “happiness on a stick”. Lately though, I’ve been working on recipe development on some new treats.
Where can we find your creations?
We have a pop shop in Old Towne Orange and are preparing to open our 2nd shop in Union Market at The District in Tustin. We do events all over the place with our popcarts, too. Patchwork, Renegade, FYF and your local farmers market are good places to find us.
Is there an interesting story behind the name of your business?
I had a list of literally 85 different names that I was kicking around and was really overwhelmed by the prospect of having to pick a good name. I was walking my dog Molly around Old Towne Orange, I thought, “This is what I love about this place…all the porches.” When I said Front Porch Pops out loud, I realized it captured the essence of what I wanted to create for other people, the simple pleasure of eating pops on the porch of our old house with my brother. Even as we expand into new product lines, I always keep that as my inner compass.
How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
I was looking for work when I started Front Porch Pops so there’s never been a back-up plan for me. I had to make this business work or move home and live in my parents basement. After 3 and a half years, I still have customers ask, “So what’s your real job?” I just shake my head and say, “I have 15 employees to manage. This is my real job.” I actually love that in spite of our tremendous growth that we still maintain our “mom & popness” about us.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
I think the biggest obstacle was learning to overcome the fear that goes along with taking risks. And it’s a lesson I have to learn over and over again. There’s never been a back-up plan or other job for me so I’ve had to learn how to accept the ups and downs that go along with growing a business. Every time we take on a new endeavor or buy some expensive piece of equipment, I have that moment of, “Oh god, what have I done?” But then I put on my big-girl panties, pour myself a cocktail and get over it. …sometimes two cocktails.
Did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?
My mom helped me so much in every aspect of Front Porch Pops. I would talk to her about new flavors or event bookings or ancillary products and she always had good ideas. When it became imminently clear that my accounting processes were…how shall I say…nonexistent…she forced my accountant brother to help sort out the mess. She was my sounding board for every tough decision I’ve made. Since she passed away 3 months ago, I’ve come to realize just how much our daily text conversations influenced the daily operations at Front Porch Pops.
What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
Refuse to take “no” for an answer and prepare to be pushier than you’ve ever been in your life. When I started out with my retro popcart I bought off Craig’s List, I discovered I needed all the same permits and insurance as the gourmet food trucks. Since I was struggling to find a way to get my product in front of people, I thought, “Well, I’m no different than them, it’s just a cart instead of a truck. I’ll do those events.” It was at the height of the gourmet food truck trend and there was a lot of competition to get bookings. For a while, I had doors slammed in my face by way of unanswered phone calls, emails and tweets. When they did get back to me, the go-to response was always an eye roll and, “No, you’re a cart, not a truck.” But eventually, I got one food trucker, Piaggio on Wheels, to let me into one of his lunch lots (maybe because he had no one else, I don’t know). And then that one event became me being able to say, “Well, they let me in, why don’t you?” We became known for being the little cart among the big trucks and by the end of that first summer, I had some momentum building and was able to do the events I wanted. Three years later, the trucks that gave me a hard time at first have all gone out of business and I’m still standing with a fleet of 10 carts, 15 staffers and 2 pop shops.