After seeing a concept overseas that she knew she could do better Natasha Fagri and her business partner, Jon-Marc developed the original Frost Popsicles on her stove at home, ‘experimenting until we had what was the winning flavour profile’ she reveals. From there it was a 13-month development journey that included importing specialist machines and working with food science labs to commercially stabilise their formulations. The entire development process (as well as their first year of operation) was fully self-funded.
Since Frost Popsicles hit the stores on 1 September 2016 the company has continued to grow and flourish, from initially launching in 25 Pick n Pay stores to now being stocked in just under 60 liquor retail outlets across three provinces. They also have non-alcoholic lines, which are available in select Wellness Warehouse and Dis-chem stores and are also exporting to Botswana, Mauritius, and Singapore with further international growth plans in the pipeline.
The product range started with two alcoholic popsicles made using Haute Cabriere wines – a Pierre Jourdan Tranquille and a Brut Cape Classique popsicle. Over the past two years, the range has grown to include a total of seven alcoholic Popsicles (Pierre Jourdan Tranquille, Brut & Ratafia, Blood Orange Screwdriver, Passion Fruit & Peach Margarita, G&T Classic & G&T Berry Infusion made with spirits specially distilled by Hope On Hopkins.
Frost Popsicles also recently launched a premium non-alcoholic range in response to consumer trends and demand – Pomegranate, Grapefruit and Hibiscus, Peach, Strawberry and Banana, and Vanilla Coffee (the only one in the range that is not vegan-friendly). All the products are free of artificial ingredients and have no added glucose or sucrose. All packaging is 100% recyclable.
So what is it that keeps Natasha going? Does she have superpowers or is it really all down to elbow grease and good lipstick? We chatted to her about her morning routine and quizzed her on being an entrepreneur oozing with girl power…
What is your approach to taking risks?
As cliché as it sounds, fortune does favour the brave and taking risks is a part of being brave! I believe in calculated risk-taking but the reality is, that despite doing your due diligence, you don’t always know exactly how something is going to turn out, and that’s where the nerves of steel come into play! Frost Popsicles as an idea was a risk – a ‘never been done before’ and a journey that has been equally terrifying and exhilarating.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Frost Popsicles took the market by storm when we launched but the phenomenal success also brought its fair share of problems. We were almost the victims of our own success.
We had huge issues with third-party cold-chain distributors that led to us purchasing our own freezer trucks that cost over R1 million. Something that was not budgeted for or thought necessary but the quality of the product depended on that and we were wholly committed to controlling the end-to-end quality of our products for the consumer. Before the purchase of the trucks, we had fired the external companies and we were doing deliveries ourselves with poly boxes of dry ice to maintain cold chain – sometimes delivering to the same stores twice in one day to keep up with the rate of sale and demand. (We even pulled family members in to help).
We had also initially hired 3rd-party merchandisers for our retail stores and this proved to be a challenge with merchandisers not doing their job properly leading to below-par store displays and poorly kept stock within our freezer assets.
This has all, however, been worth it, as turnover has increased by 25% per annum since launch and things look set to continue to grow as we aggressively pursue some very strong overseas and local opportunities.
What advice would you give to young female entrepreneurs?
Relentlessly persist… When everything looks like it’s failing, on days when you feel like a failure (and there will be many) and when all you can see are hurdles ahead of you – relentlessly persist. Do what others won’t to achieve what others don’t. Just because you’re not a man doesn’t mean you can’t and won’t be a huge success – don’t ever allow anyone to make you feel like you can’t ‘because you’re a girl’.
What’s your go-to power outfit?
For me, a ‘power outfit’ is whatever you feel your most confident in. I’ve never been one for the traditional corporate dress style, but I can definitely say that a great pair of heels always make me feel like I can do anything!
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
I cuddle my Pekingese, Ollie! Probably not the answer you were expecting… Before the craziness of the day starts and just after my alarm has gone off, there’s absolutely nothing better than 10 mins of cuddles in bed with my little fur ball – he’s my absolute best and a constant reminder that no matter what, I’ll always be a rockstar in his eyes!
Do you believe in luck?
Hmm…I believe in good timing and hard work more. I do believe strongly that everything happens for a reason, even if we are not always sure what the reason is at the time, but I don’t believe that my destiny or future business success is dependant on luck. I think we have the ability to create the future that we want and I believe in the law of reciprocals – what you put out into the universe so far as effort and energy is concerned, is what will come back to you.
What do you do for you?
I love working out and my good friend Kelly (she also runs her own business) and I have a great routine every week in the gym – we’re watt bike addicts! Quality time with friends and family is also a must for me. A great meal, a night out, a bottle of wine and loads of laughs with people I love, keeps me sane when life gets crazy!
Finish the sentence: If all else fails…
You’re allowed to be disappointed and you’re even allowed to cry, but then you need to pull yourself together, re-think, re-group, re-apply your lipstick, and keep going!
Frost has some very exciting product extensions in the pipeline for spring…We’re using our knowledge of frozen products and alcohol and cooking up something very cool that we hope everyone will love! Keep an eye on our social media pages (Frost Popsicles on FB and Twitter and Frost Pops on Insta), as we’ll be announcing more in the next few months.