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Meet Trailblazer Autumn Bastyr

Today we’d like to introduce you to Autumn Bastyr.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I am a professional photographer born and raised in Chicago. As a mother of twins dissatisfied with the lack of healthy dessert options, I used my passion for a flavor to develop Italian ice recipes to satisfy my family’s hunger for sweet treats.

My ice quickly gained traction at friends and family events and with small bulk orders. I then decided to start a mobile business. I started off in the summer of 2017 with two mobile bikes. Cruising around the city and by local parks to get my brand out there. By the end of the first summer, I was building a strong base for corporate events and catering as well.

I am an entrepreneur at heart and have over 15 years of restaurant industry experience. What I learned in the first year is that people want to be able to come to me on their own time. I was constantly asked while out on the mobile bikes where the people could find me. So, in year two, I opened a small storefront and production space in the Portage Park neighborhood.

The mobile bikes are now used for corporate and private events, a section of the business that is steadily growing, and the store is great to be able to serve our everyday customer and families.

My dream is to share the company’s healthy, flavorful, frozen refreshment with the world one scoop at a time.

Has it been a smooth road?
I don’t believe it is ever a smooth road in the entrepreneur road. I deal with day to day struggles all the time. One struggle I have been faced with is learning by loosing. I purchased my ice bikes from China, they were supposed to run on a battery power to keep the ice to temperature. They didn’t work, and there was not much I could do about. I called everyone you could think of to have them fixed, but since the wiring is different in China than the USA nobody knew how to fix them. I had to get into the problem-solving mode, so I tried out dry ice for a bit and that was not consistent. I now use cold plates and have a process of how to keep things frozen at events. There have been countless other issues similar that I have had to problem solve and creatively think through.

My advice to other women entrepreneurs would be to keep a level head. Be prepared to think outside the box to solve any obstacle that may come up, and plenty will, frequently. Starting a business is a series of solving small catastrophes. There will be a lot of down days that will make the good say so much more worth it. Don’t give up and don’t be too hard on yourself. If you are brave enough to start your own business, because it is scary, then you have the courage to keep it going.

Also, make sure you have more starting capital then you would think you will need because things happen that you can not plan for, and get EVERYTHING in writing. Cherish the dependable people in your life because they are far and few between when you are chasing a dream and not everyone can see your vision. Most importantly, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. The way you handle yourself will determine how others believe in you.

We’d love to hear more about Little Lulu’s Italian Ice.
I specialize in all natural Italian ice products. My Italian ice is made with the simple ingredients of water, fruit, and sugar.

I care about flavor and quality and the customer experience. I do my best to keep things fresh and exciting, bringing in flavors that are seasonal and once a batch sells out I do a new flavor to keep the options changing.

Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
Yes definitely. I grew up in a divorced home with a mother that was an addict (now over ten years sober). While my father was involved and is amazing, my mom had majority custody so that is where most of my time was spent. I had to learn very early on to take care of myself. No one cared if my homework was getting done or even if I was going to school, but I did because it’s my life and I’m the one that has to live with my decisions.
I started working at 14 and had a hustle to survive the type of drive. I knew that if I wanted my life a certain way or to be successful in anything I would need to stay focused and overcome any obstacle that came my way. And there are always new obstacles. Sometimes, obstacles can change your direction but give up is not an option, you must always figure out how to move forward. People will tell me they are proud of me or admire what I am doing but I have a hard time seeing it in that light, I’m still hustling to survive, keep moving forward, creating opportunities, and staying focused. Because if you don’t then what?

Growing up this way can also be looked at as a setback. I know plenty of people I grew up with that didn’t have any direction or drive but are now successful because they had a family structure and support that put them a few steps ahead. When you have parents that help guide and coach you in life you can learn things that others can only learn by making the mistakes. I am now hoping that I am providing that good foundation for my kids, not having it while I was growing up makes me appreciate it for them so much more.

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Image Credit:
Autumn Bastyr

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