Next Life

Next Life: From Legal Eagle to Frozen Yogurt Mini-Mogul


While working as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan, Chloe Epstein wanted a more flexible work schedule to accommodate her growing family. So the mother of three decided to become a real estate broker. For four years between apartment showings, she would treat her brood to frozen yogurt at low-cal meccas such as Tasti D-Lite and Pinkberry, yet she was always worried about what was in the sweets. “With the kids, I became less calorie-concerned and really concerned with the ingredients,” says Epstein.

She soon decided that the best way to protect her kids from “mysterious ingredients” was to start her own frozen yogurt company using only fruit, water, and organic sugar. In 2009 the 36-year-old and her husband, Jason, raised funds to hire a restaurant consultant, lease an Upper East Side storefront, and buy soft-serve machines, which cost $20,000 apiece. They then brought in a financial partner and spent $10,000 on nutritional testing to formulate the product. Epstein opened her first shop in the summer of 2010 as Simply Peeled but has since changed the name to The Soft Serve Fruit Co. To produce the brand’s four seasonal flavors, the company goes through as much as 500 pounds of every fruit it serves—every week.

After capturing the skinny-sweet-toothed elite on the Upper East Side, Epstein opened satellites in Manhattan’s Union Square and in Watermill, in the Hamptons. “After the summer we’ll see how these new stores do,” says Epstein, who now has 25 employees. “We have plans to grow nationally, but we’re taking it day by day.” “It can be tempting to make compromises with cost, quality, and trendy ideas that deviate from our philosophy. But we want to be trusted. It’s critical to make decisions with our core values in mind.”“There should be a story attached to everything you serve. It makes the entire package more personal, honest, and irresistible. You need to love, trust, and feel good about every item. Every morsel counts.”
 
Epstein’s Best Advice
 
1. Stick to your core values. “It can be tempting to make compromises with cost, quality, and trendy ideas that deviate from out philosophy. But we want to be trusted. It’s critical to make decisions with our core values in mind.”
 
2. Create your narrative. “There should be a story attached to everything you serve. It makes the entire package more personal, honest, and irresistible. You need to love, trust, and feel good about every item. Every morsel counts.”


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