Oh Joy

career day / an ice cream maker... 25 Mar 2015

Jeni's Ice Cream / Career Day Field Trip

If you’re from the Mid-West (or if you’re a huge ice cream fan like me), then you may have heard of Jeni’s Ice Cream. Jeni Britton Bauer (aka “Jeni”) is one of those entrepreneurs to appears to have a job that anyone would want—making ice cream, coming up with flavors, and creating joy for people all over the country with her sweet concoctions.

Jeni’s Ice Cream recently opened up a new shop right near me in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, so Ruby and I stopped by to chat with Jeni and get a behind-the-scenes peek at what it’s like to live and breathe ice cream. And (of course), to eat a little ice cream, too!

Jeni's Ice Cream / Career Day Field Trip

Here's a look at our visit to Jeni's for a Career Day field trip. I’ve also asked Jeni to share a bit about her history, growing an ice cream empire, and what she’s hoping it’s all leading to some day...

Jeni's Ice Cream / Los Angeles

When and why did you start Jeni's? / In the early ‘90s I was messing around with ice cream, collecting scents, and studying art at Ohio State. During a figure drawing class one day, a model I didn’t like to draw walked in. So, I got up, left my portfolio and all my supplies at my desk, and just walked out. I thought, ‘I don’t want to do this any more. I want to make ice cream.’ I quit everything else, too—school, side jobs—just threw myself into making ice cream and figuring out how to create a living doing that.

Within six months I started my first ice cream business, which didn't work. So, I took time off, traveled, lived, learned, and studied customer service. The thing that didn’t work at my first ice cream business was surprising people with new menus all the time. When I opened Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in 2002 in the North Market in Columbus, I made sure to offer signature flavors along with just a few surprises. 

Jeni's Ice Cream / Career Day Field Trip

When did you know you had something good? / The day we opened for business in November 2002—the day of the OSU/­Michigan football game. We thought we’d open that day to give ourselves a little warm up, to open softly, you know. OSU/­Michigan game day in Columbus is a holy day. Every man, woman, and child is glued to the TV on that day in Columbus. But much to our surprise there was a giant line all day. We’ve never looked back.

Jeni's Ice Cream / Los Angeles

If there were two of you, what other type of business would the other Jeni have? / I grew up in Peoria, Illinois, in the cradle of the greatest sandwich on earth, the breaded pork tenderloin. Other Jeni would open a joint that served from­ scratch breaded tenderloins on tiny white buns, served with dill pickles, homemade mustard, and potato salad. One pilsner on tap to wash it all down. 

Jeni's Ice Cream / Los Angeles

Do you take off on the weekends? / I’m never not working. I’m working the same way today as I did when I started making my own ice cream in the mid ‘90s: pretty much every moment I’m awake. I’m not bragging or complaining—whatever I’m reading, watching, listening to, and doing goes into whatever the next ice cream flavor is.

Sometimes I feel like a character in a comic book, like I fell into a vat of magical ice cream a couple decades ago and emerged with ice cream fused to my DNA. I go to work everyday thinking of how to improve the texture or body of my ice cream. Or how to get one flavor just right. I think about it constantly. And when I’m not thinking about it actively, there is a little spot on my brain that is always dedicated to only thinking about ice cream. It’s on no matter where I am or what I’m doing. It’s even on while I sleep. 

With 20 stores currently, what is your dream for your brand? World ice cream domination?  My only dream for this company is for us to make better ice cream tomorrow than we did today. One day at a time, that is what we’re trying to do here. As far as shops go, the goal has never been and never will be to open a chain of cookie-­cutter, look­-a­like shops. We own and operate our shops and I have my hands in every detail of the way each one looks and feels. I can’t imagine just opening a bunch of clone shops and just sitting back. I like the work too much. 

Jeni's Ice Cream / Los Angeles

Favorite ice cream? / I’ll never get tired of Lemon Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt. It’s so creamy, tart, and refreshing. I also LOVE it on pies in the summer!

Worst part about your job? / The existence of deadlines. I always think I can improve whatever ice cream we’re about to release! 

Best part about your job? / Being able to create something out of everything I absorb every day. This job didn’t just fall out of the sky for me. I had to make choices to create the opportunity for myself, but I’m proud and thankful I’m able to earn a living by creating something I dream up.

Jeni's Ice Cream / Los Angeles

One thing that has happened in your career that you never expected? / Giving speeches. It still floors me that people want to hear me tell my story. I’m always flattered.

One thing that has happened in your career that you completely expected and had hoped for? / When I was first messing around with ice cream, I mixed cayenne essential oil into regular store-­bought chocolate ice cream. I let it melt slowly on my tongue. It was cold, tasted like chocolate, and about five seconds later it burst into flames in the back of my throat. It was like the sky tore in two and light enveloped me. Right then I knew that ice cream would be my life. I didn’t know how I would do it, how long it would take, how many people, how much money, but I knew it was my path. For some crazy reason, I always thought there could be a place in the world where art, perfume, and ice cream could get along. I always thought that. And I guess it appears to be true. 

Jeni's Ice Cream / Career Day Field Trip

Jeni's Ice Cream / Career Day Field Trip

Even with a huge, booming business, Jeni remains kind, humble, and deeply grounded and loyal to her Mid-West roots. Thanks so much to Jeni and the team at Jeni's Ice Cream for an inspiring visit! I'm pretty sure Ruby enjoyed this Career Day field trip when she said afterwards that it was "the best day EVER!".

Jeni's Ice Cream | 1954 Hillhurst Avenue | Los Angeles, CA 90027 | 323-928-2668

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy} 

career day / a kid's clothing designer... 18 Mar 2015

Ultra Violet Kids

I love getting to expose my kids to so many cool jobs that exist out there. Whether it's through my community of entrepreneurial friends that I surround myself with or the people I get to meet through my job, I always enjoying showing how anyone can create a job for themselves from scratch.

Inspired by that notion, I want to start sharing with you some of the people that I'm lucky enough to come across. People that have cool jobs—jobs that aren't typical, and jobs that come from a true love of what they do. It's like career day at school but with a twist! 

Ultra Violet Kids

Ultra Violet Kids

Today, I'm sharing a peek into the world of a kid's fashion designer, Michelle Chaplin of Ultra Violet Kids. I came across Michelle's clothing last month and instantly wished the clothes she made came in my size. They're edgy yet comfortable and combine bite-sized pieces with great prints (I mean, that mini crop top?!? I can't even...). Here's a look at her Los Angeles studio and a few fun facts...

Ultra Violet Kids

What did you think you wanted to be when you grew up? I have always known I wanted to be a fashion designer.

Ultra Violet Kids

What’s your background and when/why did you start Ultra Violet? For the past 15 years, I have been working as a women's contemporary designer. I have worked for other companies making their visions come to life as well as having my brand, Smoke & Mirrors, with Emily Harteau of Our Open Road.

When my daughter, Violet, was born I was happily unemployed and started a little Etsy store selling vintage kids clothing. For Violet's birthday, I made her a crop top and harem pants out of African fabric. All of my friends loved it, so that's when the light bulb in my head went on. I secured my domain, started branding, picked up my first account, and that was the beginning of Ultra Violet Kids.

Ultra Violet Kids

When did you know you had something good? I knew I had something special when customers started buying the clothing, giving me positive feedback, and when press and stores started contacting me. Instagram has been so crucial in the growth and awareness of Ultra Violet Kids. I get to see all the pictures of kids wearing their clothing, and it makes me extremely proud. My mom jokes that I always said I wanted to clothe the world but I didn't say what size.

Ultra Violet Kids

Best part about your job? The best part of my job is designing and creating fashion.

Worst part about your job? The hardest part of my job is managing production.

Ultra Violet Kids

Style muse? My daughter Violet is my muse and inspiration.

Ultra Violet Kids

What do you hope the brand will become someday? I dream of being able to grow the company, giving back, and expanding into women's again. But right now I'm happy with growing it organically. I hope that Ultra Violet Kids becomes a recognized brand that you can always count on for fashion forward, quality clothing that's made in the USA. 

Favorite ice cream? I love ice cream! Gold Medal Ribbon and Almond Fig Gelato are my favorites.

Thanks so much Michelle for this look into your world!

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy except the two photos of the kids by Lauren Moore for Ultra Violet Kids} 

{field trip} a+r store... 17 Feb 2015

A+R Store / Los Angeles

I'm often so virtual these days that I tend to do most of my shopping online. But I miss the ritual of going into an actual store and seeing and feeling the pieces in person. Even if I'm not actually shopping to buy, there's still something so much more enjoyable about window shopping in person. I love imagining—even just for a second—how something I see in a store would look in my future dream home.

One of my favorite online modern home decor shops, A+R, has an actual brick and mortar store here in Los Angeles. It's rare to see independent shops that exist both online and in person these days, so I love seeing how a website comes alive in a real live space.

A+R Store / Los Angeles

A+R Store / Los Angeles

A+R Store / Los Angeles

A+R Store / Los Angeles

Full of modern, colorful, functional, and quirky pieces for the home, this shop makes me want to hang the coolest lights from my ceiling and paint my desk in an awesome, fun color!

A+R | 171 South La Brea Avenue | Los Angeles, CA 90036 | 800.913.0071 x 3

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

{field trip} society of the spectacle... 10 Feb 2015

Society of the Spectacle

As a wearer of glasses (for over 20 years), I love coming across shops that carry vintage frames that can be made into prescription glasses or even sunglasses. I came across Society of the Spectacle in L.A.'s Highland Park when filming our Dressing the Bump series last year, and it's still one of my favorite spots to be inspired by all the frame options out there.

Society of the Spectacle

Society of the Spectacle

I usually steer away from colored frames, but a vintage pair like these add a nice pop of color to your face!

Society of the Spectacle

Society of the Spectacle

These sparkly frames above are not vintage (but vintage-inspired) and they are so, so fun! Let's just inject glitter into all our eyewear, shall we? 

Society of the Spectacle | 4563 York Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90041 | 323.255.4300

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy} 

currently snacking on... 5 Feb 2015

Gray Malin x Compartes Chocolate Bars

Is it just me or do you also keep a bar of chocolate in your bedroom's nightstand? Maybe it's the thoughts of Valentine's Day swirling in my head or the fact that my sweet tooth is off the charts these days, but I'm currently snacking on my own box of chocolate à la these Gray Malin x Compartes chocolate bars. The "Sweet Sea" flavor (milk chocolate waffle cone with sea salt) is my fave and anything called "Beach Sprinkles" sounds so sweet in so many ways...

Gray Malin x Compartes Chocolate Bars

...and this packaging? Compartes always nails it with these gorgeous boxes!

{Photos by Casey Brodley, styling by Julia Wester for Oh Joy}

{field trip} zuzii studio... 15 Jan 2015

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Zuzii Shoe Studio

As a designer and small business owner, I have a true love and appreciation of seeing how other small businesses are run. Whenever I have an opportunity to visit the studio of a fellow maker, it’s a serious treat. In partnership with American Express, we recently visited the new Downtown LA studio of Zuzii, a family-owned and operated shoemaker that makes beautiful, handmade shoes. I brought along my little sidekick (and shoe-lover) so she could see the shoe-making process in action.

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Zuzii Shoe Studio

I first learned about Zuzii last year and have loved following their growth ever since. What started as a kid’s shoe line has now evolved to a brand with items for grown-ups, too. Ruby loved seeing all the shoe samples and all the materials that go into making the shoes.

And because I am always so fascinated by how each business runs differently, I asked Ryan, Alex, Nickie Campbell (a mother and two daughters) a few things about how it all comes together…

Zuzii Shoe Studio

What’s your biggest joy in being a small business?

We love our connection with our customers. All of our management and production is done by the three of us, so we really get to be consumed by the entire process including interacting with our customers. We have so many wonderful customers that show us love on a daily basis. Our favorites are those wonderful customers who take time to send us a photo just to tell us how much they love their new shoes. It truly is a special experience for us to be able to take the order, craft the shoes, pack and ship, and a few days later be able to see them on the customers feet. I know it is said often, but we really couldn’t do it without them. As a small business we also have a unique opportunity to really get to know our customers (especially thanks to social media). We have so many long-term customers who have been around since the early days. Zuzii has basically grown up along with some of them, it makes it such a sweet experience considering our start as an infant shoe brand. 

Zuzii Shoe Studio

What are the pluses and minuses of having a family-run small business?

We are all equal co-owners of Zuzii, which is a great thing but at some points also makes things a little challenging. It was really important to us that we make collective decisions between the three of us. We have many commonalities that can sometimes overlap and make things tricky, but for the most part we all have our own strengths that complement each other and allow us to work together to figure things out and get things done. It took a couple years to get used to working together inside this setting, but it has bonded us in a way I think most families don’t ever get the opportunity to. 

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Are you inspired by customer feedback/requests when creating new designs?

This has been a key part of growing our business. When we began Zuzii we only had intentions of creating infant shoes, it was a lot of thanks to our customers who pushed and drove us to continually expand our size range. It was funny, every time we launched a new size we would immediately have customers coming back and asking us for even more! We launched our Women’s line this past summer, and almost immediately we had requests for a men’s line which is now in the works for this coming summer!

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Thanks so much to the Campbell family for giving us a peek into their wonderful world!

This post is in partnership with American Express – committed to connecting small merchants to more customers through the Shop Small® movement. 

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

{los angeles} top 20 bites of 2014... 18 Dec 2014

Salt Air

As my mind and body prepped for a new family member this year, 2014 included a ton of places I simply craved (which meant lots of sweets and lots of carbs). Here are my Top 20 Bites of 2014 in Los Angeles {in no particular order}...

1. The lobster roll from Salt Air is like the runway model of lobster rolls. It's not the meatiest out there, but it sure is pretty.

Good Girl Dinette

2. The blistered corn from Good Girl Dinette. I don't know what they do to this corn, but it has this amazing mix of crispy, sweet, and soft that is unlike any corn on the cob I've ever had.

Black Hogg Cookies

3. The Cap'n Crunch Chocolate Chip Cookie from Black Hogg (recipe here) has become my favorite chocolate chip cookie in the city.

The Hungry Cat

4. For a meatier lobster roll, the version from The Hungry Cat with those amazing fries surely satisfies (we love their Sunday brunch!).

Dinette

5. The best waffle I might have ever had is this one with a poached egg and bacon from Dinette.

Hart and the Hunter

6. Because toasts are the new black, this Trout Toast from The Hart and the Hunter is one of my favorites.

Eggslut

7. The "slut" (a coddled egg over potato pureé) from Egg Slut makes for a comforting and cozy morning meal.

Republique

8. The double chocolate cookie from Republique (middle) is gluten-free but you'd never know it was missing anything—it's chewy, sweet, crunchy, and simply out of this world.

Faith and Flower

9. The kimchi deviled eggs from Faith and Flower take deviled eggs to a whole new level.

Sweet Rose Creamery

10. Cinnamon Buttermilk Sherbet from Sweet Rose Creamery offers a fun twist on a cold treat.

(see the other 10 below the jump...)

Continue reading " {los angeles} top 20 bites of 2014... " »

{oh joy eats} dinette in echo park... 1 Dec 2014

Dinette / Los Angeles

Sometimes you come across a new spot that has a combination of a close proximity, casual service, and delicious options that make you go back...every...single...week. You're worried the guy at the counter will think, "You again?" (But then again, that's not a terrible thing to see repeat customers, I suppose.) That newish spot for me is Dinette in L.A.'s Echo Park.

Dinette / Los Angeles

Dinette / Los Angeles

Dinette / Los Angeles

By the owners of Cafe Stella in Silver Lake, it's basically a mini restaurant tucked in a street corner with a fancy take-out window in an up-and-coming area. There's a mix of beautiful baked goods that sit in the window that tease you and tempt you to buy a cookie or slice of pie along with your breakfast or lunch.

Dinette / Los Angeles

Dinette / Los Angeles

Dinette / Los Angeles

But my favorite is the simple, yet beautiful, breakfast which includes the lightest, fluffiest waffles I've ever had topped with bacon and a poached egg, a ham and egg topped toast, avocado toast, and mini quiches—all perfect for sharing. As a milk tea lover, I also love the cardamom iced milk tea for a morning pick-me-up at my new go-to spot.

Dinette | 1606 W. Sunset Blvd. | Los Angeles, CA 90026

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

{oh joy eats} donut snob... 13 Nov 2014

Donut Snob Los Angeles

I've been eating like a 14 year old boy lately with my nursing mama's appetite! All I want is a ton of juice and water to drink and sweets of all kinds. So I welcome these seriously amazing donuts from Donut Snob.

The dough is light and fluffy and topped with just the right amount of glaze and toppings. With flavors like Chai Toasted Almond (chai tea glaze with almonds), Berry Best (cinnamon glaze with mixed berry coulis), Campfire S'mores (chocolate ganache and marshmallow), Pistachio Orange (orange zest glaze dusted with pistachios), and The Oinker (maple cinnamon topped with bacon), my sweet tooth is very happy indeed. 

P.S. Donut Snob doesn't have a retail store yet, but you can find them at cafes around Los Angeles or order them to be delivered or picked up locally.

{Photo by Casey Brodley, styling by Julia Wester for Oh Joy}

{field trip} reykjavik outpost in eagle rock... 29 Oct 2014

Reykjavik Outpost Los Angeles

We always love it when new, inspiring shops pop up in the area and recently stopped by Reykjavik Outpost in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of LA. Everything in the shop is sourced from Iceland-based artists and designers. With hand-drawn fabrics and hand woven shoes, every piece is beautifully made by hand.

Reykjavik Outpost Los Angeles

Reykjavik Outpost Los Angeles

Reykjavik Outpost Los Angeles

Reykjavik Outpost Los Angeles

Reykjavik Outpost Los Angeles

Inspiring and lovely and full of amazing colors, patterns, and textures, it's a place to go for a truly special treat for someone.

P.S. Here's a special Oh Joy reader discount for their online store for 25% off through November 5th. Simply enter RVKOHJOY25 at checkout and see more past field trips right here...

Reykjavik Outpost Icelandic Design Store | 4680 Eagle Rock Blvd | Los Angeles, CA 90041

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

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