In late 2014, Amy Clark gave her homeschooled daughter an assignment: start a business.
Izzy Clark was only 10, but she’d already seen small business and entrepreneurship in action. Her father is Ryan Clark, who co-founded Liberty Bottleworks in Union Gap.
Izzy looked into a few ideas before deciding to open an ice cream stand. She had previous experience making ice cream with her father using a base recipe that has been in the family for some time. The recipe came with an old ice cream maker and has been perfected over time.
“I love ice cream,” she said.
An she’s not alone: According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the average American eats more than 23 pounds of ice cream a year.
Over time, the stand would became more than a means to not only complete a homework assignment, but to pursue a major passion. More than two years later, she is now taking steps to expand the business she created, Huck and Bean Ice Cream.
“If you never take the risk, you don’t know,” she said. “I would have never known what was in store for me, so I decided to go with it.”
Izzy spent most of the first half of 2015 making and taste testing her first two flavors: The Bean, a vanilla ice cream, and The Huck, which is swirled with huckleberries and chocolate chunks. The flavors were named after the Clark family’s dogs.
In May 2015, Izzy opened the Huck and Bean Ice Cream stand at the end of the driveway of her Nile home. The first weekend day she sold out in three hours. It was a taste of what was to come.
Izzy sold ice cream seasonally — May to September — in 2015 and 2016. At the end of the 2016 season, she moved from her driveway to a site off State Route 410 near the Woodshed Restaurant.
Izzy also offered new flavors. They, too, were named after various pets and animals in her Nile neighborhood. For example, Ollie, a strawberry ice cream, was named after the family’s red horse.
Most days, the ice cream was sold within hours.
Earlier this year, Izzy realized that she had greater aspirations. She wanted sell her ice cream during events and weddings.
Doing so would require a larger operation. At the time, she had nine 1.5 quart tabletop ice cream makers: Just enough to to supply her for a few hours on the weekends.
“I needed to move to a commercial kitchen where I can meet the demand of the people,” she said.
This summer, she’s turning her assignment into a full-blown commercial ice cream operation.
A commercial kitchen is being constructed at her home. Meanwhile, Izzy has been talking to people at Molly Moon’s Ice Cream and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, two popular ice cream companies in Seattle and Columbus, Ohio, respectively, to get advice on the commercial kitchen process.
She also garnered advice from the owners of the Montana company Sweet Peaks Ice Cream. She learned about the company while doing research online.
She was encouraged to see a small town ice cream shop —Sweet Peaks’ first shop was in Whitefish, Mont., near Glacier National Park. — grow and become successful. “It really resembles the area I’m at,” she said.
She’s continuing to make ice cream to ensure that her method and technique can translate to a larger commercial-grade ice cream maker.
What Izzy is doing — starting a business at such a young age — is noteworthy.
At the same time, there have been a push, whether by parents, like Izzy, or by schools, to expose youth to entrepreneurship. Business plan competitions are becoming more common at high school and college levels.
While not every young person will end up owning a business, entrepreneurship provides valuable skills that are attractive to employers.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, which provides programs for middle and high school students, states that participants of its programs eventually earn about 50 percent more than their peers.
Now the organization’s Greater Los Angeles branch is looking to pilot a program in a local school that would extend its programming to fifth graders.
Kimberly Small, director of NFTE Greater Los Angeles, believe that young students, such as Izzy Clark, can truly master entrepreneurial concepts and be taken seriously.
“When adults see them, they say, ‘They’re really cute,’” Small said. “Then (the students) open their mouths and blow them away.”
Small believes that Izzy, too, is on the right path.
“I guarantee she’s going to be successful,” she said. “She’s had that early exposure and she has her parents’ backing.”
Indeed, Izzy credits both of her parents for her success so far. Her mother has provided a flexible schooling schedule that allows her to spend the time she needs on this business venture.
Her father has provided plenty of advice and guidance every step of the way.
“It’s been a wonderful experience because there’s been a lot of support and encouragement,” she said. “… It just keeps you going.”
She’ll need motivation in the coming months. She’s wants to raise $25,000 on Go Fund Me to pay for new equipment, such as a new commercial ice cream maker, which can cost up to $10,000 to $15,000 used. While her parents have helped her cover business expenses, including for the commercial kitchen, she wanted to generate other sources of funding. “I don’t want it all to be on them,” she said.
Depending on how quickly she can raise funds and finish construction of her new commercial kitchen, she hopes to start making and selling ice cream by late August at the Elk Ridge Campground in Naches. She plans to continue on a May to September season, but plans to be available other times of the year for events.
Her goal is to eventually open a brick-and-mortar shop.
“My model is Sweet Peaks,” she said, referring again to the Whitefish, Mont. ice cream company. “They already have multiple locations. They have their trailer. I really look at that as a model for the years to come.”