Amber Cleveland, CEO at Peace of mind Popsicles.
She is a serial entrepreneur, a mom, a mental health therapist, and a GSU alumni. She has been in private practice for 12 years in Decatur, GA treating adults with anxiety, depression and stress management. She’s the mother of a child with learning differences and food sensitivities. And she is passionate about making life easier for all parents as they raise unique and amazing children.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- The inspiration of the idea for POM pops
- What makes their brand different
- How and why the gut brain connection is so important
- Who POM pops are for
- Where to buy POM pops
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio, brought to you by on pay. Built in Atlanta on pay is the top rated payroll and HR software anywhere. Get one month free at on pay. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:31] Lee Kantor here another episode of GSU ENI radio. And I am so excited to be talking to my guest today. Amber Cleveland with Peace of mind Popsicles or POM pops. Welcome, Amber.
Amber Cleveland: [00:00:45] Hi.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:47] I’m so excited about learning more about your operation. Tell us about pom pops. How are you serving folks?
Amber Cleveland: [00:00:53] So we are an allergen dye and GMO free brand of popsicles. We offer freedom of choice for kids. They can have anything in our brand if they have food sensitivities or allergies, and we offer no stress for parents. They don’t have to ask about ingredients. They don’t have to worry about reactions to foods. It’s just inclusion and fun and freedom for the whole family.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:17] So what was the kind of genesis of this idea? How did it come about?
Amber Cleveland: [00:01:22] Sure. So I am the mother of a child with food sensitivities and learning differences. So one day after tutoring, I decided to take her to Jenny’s ice cream for a treat, and we walked up to the counter and I asked the cashier, Do you have any options that are both gluten and dairy free? And she said, Yeah, I have this one right here, and pointed to the one in front of her. And my daughter was livid. She said, I don’t want that one. I want one of those, and pointed to the other 30 flavors behind the counter. And what should have been fun just turned into something really stressful. And I realized that I’m not the only parent going through this. She’s not the only kid going through this. There’s just a lack of options for these kids and these families, and they’re just underserved in public places.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:14] So then, had you ever made popsicles before?
Amber Cleveland: [00:02:19] I had, actually. So my daughter was on a really specialized diet when she was little called the Gap diet. And I’m I’m actually a mental health therapist. And so I had a lot of experience on healing her body through nutrition. And so I have a background in making foods by hand for years, actually.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:41] So was this the first time that you tried to create your own kind of brand of Popsicle?
Amber Cleveland: [00:02:49] So it is my my first time creating a food brand. My family owned a restaurant in College Park for 20 years, so I have some experience in the food service industry and in that domain. And I actually have a business partner who makes the popsicles now, but I have made popsicles in the past that I’m not technically the popsicle maker at this point.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:09] Now, when you were coming up with the concept and you were trying to make it, you know, I guess specifically for your child, but children like your child and maybe adults as well, how did you kind of come up with the flavors like the widget? How do you even launch something like this? Did you start with one flavor and then expand? How did that go?
Amber Cleveland: [00:03:32] That’s a great question. So it was a little bit of trial and error. We tried a few different recipes to see which ones were the best. And then I did a little bit of research on what are the most popular flavors of popsicles and ice cream. So that was kind of the starting point. And in regard to kind of getting them out there, we started selling in local farmer’s markets and really just started getting feedback from people and kind of tracking sales and seeing like, what did we sell the most of the least of and trying to figure out what was the most popular.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:05] And then what are the types of ingredients that are in one of your popsicles in order to satisfy all of those demands for folks who have allergies and all the different issues that they’re dealing with.
Amber Cleveland: [00:04:18] So the base of our popsicles is a combination of organic, non-GMO, coconut milk, organic, non-GMO cane sugar, and then a grass fed beef gelatin. And from there we add in different ingredients that we source locally, like different fruits and herbs and spices.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:39] And then when did you start going? Hmm, We might be on to something here.
Amber Cleveland: [00:04:45] Hmm. That’s a great question. I think once we started getting feedback from people at the farmer’s market and they were asking, you know, are you going to distribute? Where can I get these? It was just it was reinforcement that there was a need and that the product, you know, met their expectations and was actually both healthy and delicious.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:07] Now, none of the like kind of the big players in the popsicle market, they’re not going after this market at all. And you guys are the kind of for creating your own path in this space.
Amber Cleveland: [00:05:22] To some degree, yes. There are. So like King of Pop’s is out there and they do have some allergen free options. But what differentiates us is that our entire brand is free of these things. So we offer something that they can’t in terms of the exclusivity of the brand being entirely inclusive. We subtract the mental work for the parents and that’s not something they can offer unless they get rid of all of their regular popsicles, which is highly unlikely given that that’s where the majority of their sales is going to be.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:54] And then so you’ve been rolling this out primarily through festivals and farmer’s markets.
Amber Cleveland: [00:06:00] We have that’s that’s been phase one of our sales and that’s where we have been. And we’re we’re currently moving into phase two and where we haven’t solidified anything yet, but we’re we’re in discussions with two local health food stores to retail them by early winter.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:18] And then how did you get involved with the Main Street fund? How did that get on your radar?
Amber Cleveland: [00:06:26] I actually was in the first cohort about two and a half years ago, two years ago, three years ago. It’s been a while and for a lot of personal reasons, wasn’t able to complete that that project that I you know, I had a great relationship with M.K., the director, and he said, you know, I understand what you’re going through personally, and if you have another idea, you can always come back. And I had another idea and I came back and it just happened to work out this time and everything lined up. And so that’s kind of how I got into this cohort.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:59] Now how have they helped you kind of get to a new level? What what has their experience been for you to go through the program again?
Amber Cleveland: [00:07:08] It’s been great. So the funding has been tremendous. Just to have money to work with to start for start up costs, doing food we have for permitting and everything. We have a lease with a commercial kitchen. So it’s been great to have the funding for that to help us get off the ground. And then also the mentorship, it’s just been incredible. There’s just so much that you don’t know about, what you don’t know. And being able to rely on the expertise of the mentors in the program has been incredibly helpful.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:42] Now, can you explain to the listener why it’s important to have a choice like this out there for folks like why that maybe explain the the connection between the food and the body and brain of a young person, especially why it’s important to have a brand like yours out there serving not just folks with food sensitivities, but probably other people as well would benefit from this choice rather than one that doesn’t do it the way you do it.
Amber Cleveland: [00:08:15] Now, that is really my passion. When you ask me what the recipe was, the all of the primary ingredients serve your health holistically right, children and adults, but especially in growing bodies and brains. The coconut milk is a healthy fat and your brain is 70% fat. So automatically you’re feeding your child’s brain when they’re when they’re eating coconut milk. The beef gelatin that I mentioned that heals and seals your gut. So that’s going to improve your GI function. And 90% of your serotonin and a lot of your other trans neurotransmitters are made in the gut. And then last but not least, the fruit and the herbs and the spices. They all contain phytochemicals and micronutrients which boost your immune system. So not only are you not doing anything bad by avoiding the bad stuff, you’re doing something really, really good. Every time your kid has one of these popsicles, it’s actually building the foundation of health.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:22] Now, a lot of foods that are good for you don’t taste that great. How do you make these things taste great?
Amber Cleveland: [00:09:31] So sorry. It. So the cane sugar helps, right? A little. A little bit of sweetness. Certainly appeals to most people. And also Taylor, who actually makes our popsicles, is I mean, she’s an amazing chef. She’s an amazing cook. Her background is in food and early childhood education. So she’s very passionate about this. But she has a knack for bringing all these ingredients together in a way that just is really delicious.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:02] And then so if people want to kind of get one and try them. Is there a website like how how do people find out where you’re at or where you’ll be in a given week or weekend?
Amber Cleveland: [00:10:17] So you can follow us on Instagram at At Peace of Mind Pops and all of our information is right there. We are working toward building a website and we intend to eventually have direct to consumer sales that we can ship them directly. But prior to that, we’ll be in some stores in the Atlanta area and our our lineup of where we’re going to be at different farmer’s markets is also posted on our Instagram page.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:44] It’s really an amazing story. Do you have any advice for other maybe moms out there that have figured out something for their kid that they might be sitting on a real business opportunity if they kind of maybe looked at it a little differently? Any advice for moms out there to take something that they’ve been doing at home and maybe at least make it available for others to see if it could be a business?
Amber Cleveland: [00:11:08] Yeah, I think it’s it’s just talking to the other moms that, you know, and seeing if there’s really a need for that. And then, you know, it’s there’s something just really powerful and people wanting to help other people. And that’s a huge motivation for us as well as I know a lot of other kind of wellness businesses in the Atlanta area. If you’re passionate about helping people, if you really have something that makes people’s lives easier and makes their quality of life better, it will sell itself. It’s just a matter of bringing it to life and and the resources are out there. You’ve just got to pursue them.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:47] Well, congratulations on all the success and the momentum you’ve got. It must be pretty exciting for you to see this thing keep blossoming.
Amber Cleveland: [00:11:55] It really is. It is. It is thrilling to to see this unfold and to be a part of it. It is it is a passion that I have. And watching the progress that my child has made over time, I can only hope that other families experience the same thing. And if peace of mind pops can be a part of that. It’s just it’s really great.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:16] And then Instagram is the best place to find peace of mind pops right now, and then they can find out where you’re at at any given weekend.
Amber Cleveland: [00:12:25] Exactly. And we will have a website coming soon that’s just on our ongoing list of things to develop. We’re not there yet, but anything you need to know for now, you can find on Instagram.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:35] Well, Amber, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing such important work and we appreciate you.
Amber Cleveland: [00:12:41] Okay, great. Thank you. I appreciate you having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:43] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on GSU. Any radio?
Intro: [00:12:52] Today’s episode of Atlanta Business Radio is brought to you by On pay. Built in Atlanta on pay is the top rated payroll in HR software anywhere. Get one month free at on Paycom.