Goshen News, Goshen, IN

February 7, 2013

Goshen startup business honored with regional award

By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS

GOSHEN — The commitment to follow through on a good idea was rewarded Wednesday when Kelly Huffman received a state award for her business, Honey’s Frozen Yogurt.

Honey’s opened for business less than nine months ago in Linway Plaza on West Lincoln Avenue. On Wednesday, Lt. Govenor Sue Ellspermann presented Huffman with an Economic Development through Growth and Entrepreneurship Award. The award with the long name is given through the Indiana Small Business Development Center.

Huffman learned a couple of weeks ago she would be receiving the award for the northern region of the state in the emerging business category.

“I never dreamed it would be so successful,” Huffman said, about her business.

The year-round business sells frozen yogurt that customers can customize with an assortment of candies and toppings. The store also sells bulk teas. That combination of products has been very popular with the people of Goshen, according to Huffman.

She laughed while saying on a recent winter day when the temperature registered zero degrees, 580 customers ate frozen yogurt from the shop. And business was even better last summer.

“We had 1,500 customers in one day in the summer,” Huffman said.

She came up with the idea to open a frozen yogurt shop while visiting her son in Mississippi and going to a similar shop.

“I fell in love with it after five minutes inside. I thought we need this in Goshen. I’m a Goshen girl,” she said. “My son gave me the words, ‘Mom, you’re a total entrepreneur,’ and it gave me the courage to try.”

During the visit she was introduced to a store there that prides itself on a healthy yogurt alternative to ice cream, with ingredients coming from Honey Hill Farms in Arkansas, a yogurt distributor that doesn’t use artificial extracts in its products.

One of her first steps on the journey to opening the store was to meet with Alan Steele, a business adviser with North Central Indiana Small Business Development Center. Steele meets with Goshen-area people who have business ideas twice a week at the Goshen Chamber of Commerce.

“I found out I didn’t have to be a Chamber member to talk with Alan about starting a business,” Huffman said. “I can’t tell you what he meant to me. I started telling this guy I had never met before about my dream and asked him, ‘Does it sound crazy to you?’”

But it wasn’t crazy to Steele, who encouraged her to move forward with her plan. So she went through the process to acquire a loan, ordered her equipment, signed the lease and established her entity.

“Then I heard another shop was going to open and my heart just melted,” Huffman said. “I talked to Alan and he persuaded me to buckle up my armor and compete. He said, ‘You have a vision for something very special.’ He gave me the courage to go on.”

And business has far exceeded her expectations and goals.

The shop has a popular loyalty program, which takes the place of discount gift cards. Her goal for the first 90 days was to have 7,000 members.

“I had 10,000 in the first 90 days and I have 15,000 now,” she said, smiling. “Money isn’t my big motivator. We give back to the community through the business and 10 percent of our profit goes to an orphanage (Grace English School and Orphanage) in Assam, India.”