Today we’d like to introduce you to LaThesia Hardy.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I left Corporate America about two years ago to work in my business, Chill Pop Lounge, full time. A few years prior to me leaving my Corporate position, I knew I wanted to become an entrepreneur. I wanted to do something completely different from my profession. While visiting one of my territories that I covered, a colleague invited me to go to his favorite dessert place, which turned out to be a Popsicle shop. I was thoroughly impressed with the atmosphere, the variety of flavors, and the customers. I was fortunate enough to meet the Owner who took me under his wing and showed me all aspects of the business.
Once I got my LLC, I purchased a Food Truck Trailer that we kept stationary and served Ice Cream and Milkshakes. The Trailer looked like a small Key West Cottage with had outside seating along with a firepit. The Landlord decided to develop the land that we were on for retail shopping center and we had to move. By this time, we were producing our Popsicles at another location so spruced that location and moved there. We remained there for a year before finding our present location, which is Avalon Park on the East side of Orlando.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not been a smooth road. In the beginning we struggled with permitting issues because we wanted to serve our Alcohol Infused options and were denied because my Trailer was considered a mobile business even though it was stationary. In order to serve alcohol products we would have to cross over many hurdles that would have been very costly. By the time we resolved that we were not going to be able to serve our alcohol-infused products we were told that we would have to leave the property for retail renovations. We had an opportunity to become a tenant in the new building but the length of time for the building completion date would have left us out of commission for nearly a year.
Therefore we made the decision to renovate the location where we produced the Popsicles into a retail operations. It turned out to be a costly project but it was what we had to do to continue with our retail operation. As we were settling into the new location, after about a year, we had an opportunity to move (yet again) to a location that would generate much more foot traffic. It turned out to be a great move, we are in a beautiful location and our customers are amazing!!! Many of our customers from our old locations have continued to be supportive through all of our moves. These moves were unforeseen and created many challenges but we powered through it all and are open creating happiness in tummies.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Chill Pop Lounge is a gourmet frozen dessert shop that offers handcrafted healthy and decadent popsicles made with fresh ingredients (locally source when possible). We are also known for our hand-dipped ice cream, milkshakes, floats, and lattes. We offer alcohol infused versions of all products as well. Our motto is “The kids can’t have all of the fun.” A few flavors include cookies ‘n cream, satin Nutella swirled in chocolate, Ginger Pear, and FL Sunshine. For the Adults, some of our flavors are Pina Colada, Blue Lagoon, Sparkling Pomegranate. There are so much more and with some flavors and we rotate certain flavors that are seasonal.
We are different from other frozen dessert shops because we cater to the Adult options. Also, the “Lounge” part of our name is synonymous with being laid back. Our décor is a resort beach style vibe with Caribbean and relaxing music, not a typical ice cream shop. Our name says it all- Chill (relax) – Pop (our signature product) – Lounge (more relaxing) At Chill Pop, we strive to bring happiness and smile to our guest’s tummy. We are extremely proud of our friendly service, our relaxing atmosphere, and our amazing tasting and addictive treats. We have guest’s coming in a few times a week, to which we are grateful and so very much appreciate their business.
If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
I grew up in a small town in Florida surrounded by a lot of Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. My brother and I were raised by a single Mom and Grandmother who spoiled us rotten. I didn’t know that we were considered low income until I went to college. I never wanted for anything and being the only girl, I had my own bedroom (as well as my brother) and didn’t have to share our toys so we got along extremely well I was taught to be believe in God, be respectful of others, and work hard and smart to be the best human that I could be. I practice this guidance to this day. I began college in a Marine Biologist Major because I loved everything about the ocean. However, along the way, I discovered that I was more of a “people” person and that all things “ocean” was a hobby, so I ended up with a master’s degree in Human Resource Management- which I love. I no longer scuba dive (I plan to pick it up again soon) but I still enjoy going to the beach whenever I can.
- Website: www.chillpoplounge.com
- Instagram: @chillpoplounge
- Facebook: chillpoplounge
- Other: TikTok: chillpoplounge
Chill Management Team: LaThesia R. Hardy, Shirley Potenza, Reginald Adams, Jennifer Hall.
We are well on our way and I could not have done it without your love, strength, dedication, and all your efforts.
I am Blessed and Fortunate to have you on Team Chill!!!