Chances are you have seen or heard about The STIL, one of Boise's home grown unique experiences.
But have you heard their story?
Listen to the Kasey Allen tell the story about how The STIL went from a side conversation to a bustling business. If you love ice cream, this story is for you. If you want to learn the keys to running a successful business, you will also want to check this out.
Below is the transcript from our feature on The STIL. If you want to vew the shortened version on our YouTube page, click here.
What is The STIL?
I'm Kasey Allen. I'm co-owner, co-founder here at The STIL.
The STIL is an acronym for the sweetest things in life and we make custom crafted ice cream. Dairy-free and vegan options are our standard dairy based stuff and then our booze-infused options as well.
We also serve a pretty wide variety of local and regional beers and wines and the fun unique twist that we have on everything is pairing up beer and wine with ice cream. So that's one of the things we're known for in addition to our just really good ice cream.
We make awesome ice creams.
The booze infused stuff is a big hit as well as just all of our flavors are on that line between being unique but still accessible.
So, we focus on a lot of flavors that hopefully people haven't really seen or heard before but they're not so far out there and so off-the-wall that people don't to try them. So that's our niche right there in the market is unique custom ice cream made on-site, in-house daily. So you're getting really fresh product.
We use a lot of local ingredients including all local dairy and just try to come up with creative unique flavors and create a fun atmosphere with great service and beer and wine pairings if people want to. But at the same time being family friendly and having something for everyone.
So, my business partner Dan Sell and I were both working in the tech industry. I was a marketing branding business development guy at HP and he's a web developer and we were actually working on a business idea in the software realm.
So we had started another company that we were trying to build up the software and app program. The STIL kind of happened as a side conversation amidst a meeting for that business where Dan asked me where he could take his kids in Boise for like the unique Boise ice cream experience.
I’m a born and raised Boise and Dan's actually originally from Ohio and so he was like on the lookout, he has three kids, he was on the lookout of like where's the go-to ice cream spot. Like if you go eat dinner downtown where do you go get like really good like Boise ice cream.
And I really didn't have an answer for him. I was like “oh I lived here my whole life, we've got the usual suspects in terms of the franchises of the chains and we've got frozen yogurt but in terms of a unique Boise ice cream spot I didn't have a readily available answer for him.
Kind of as a joke we said “there's a business idea like we should do that”.
And we both come from business backgrounds so we were just bouncing ideas off of each other in terms of the marketing in the branding and the business side of the ice cream and came up with the concept, first and foremost.
And then we thought that it sounded cool, so we started floating it to friends and family a little bit and everyone was just like “oh man you guys should totally do that I think that would be amazing, go for it”.
So we just started messing around. We bought a like a tabletop Cuisinart ice cream maker and just bought a couple books and did some research online of like I guess we should probably figure out how to make ice cream if we're going to do this and just taught ourselves and then just the process from like that conversation to our opening day was ten and a half months so pretty quick turnaround from initial idea to actually opening our doors and we just had to learn everything in that process.
Neither of us had ever worked in the food industry, had ever made ice cream, had ever like really done any of those things. So it was a crash course over the course of the next year figure this out and figure this out then figure this out then oh man we have no idea how to negotiate a lease on a commercial space or do a build-out or how do we make ice cream at how much do we need to make for.
All of the that was the learning process along the way that we just - our joke was ready, fire, aim. We'll figure it out as we go. Let's just move in the general direction of forward and then we'll figure out the details along the way.
That’s our origin story. Quit our jobs and opened this place.
We really wanted to create a place that was sort of uniquely Boise's. I always point to Voodoo doughnuts in Portland. If you're in Portland everyone's like you got to go to Voodoo doughnuts and you'll wait in the line and you'll go do it because it's a uniquely Portland experience. And I think before we opened here, Boise didn't necessarily have that.
There wasn't like obvious place that you would want to take your friends and family if they were from out of town and one of our goals was “what if we can try to create that place”.
At the end of the day we don't decide if we're that place, the market decides if we’re that place but we can do as much as we can to position ourselves hopefully as that place and hope that the market chooses us to fill that gap.
I think we have definitely a long ways to go but I hopefully you know it seems like people are excited to bring their friends or family that are visiting from out of town or if they haven't been down there you know people like to bring some people into the shop and so hopefully we've at least semi succeeded in doing that and created a place that Boise can hopefully be proud of.
Quit the corporate life; it’s worth it
I hope that we can be like not a sense of a source of like inspiration but just sort of a source of like we don't have dairy pedigrees or backgrounds. We're just two local guys who were kind of sick of working in our corporate jobs and saw something fun to do that we thought we could add a value and sort of went for it. I hope that's a story that resonates with people that it's sometimes quitting your comfortable corporate job and trading in those hours and that salary to sometimes work 16-hour days for yourself.
It can seem daunting but it's totally worth it, at least from my view.
And if you look around it's like every business that you like, every restaurant you like, every retail shop, everything that you see is was just created by people, you know? Or people that were no better or smarter or advantaged than you are, it's just they just decided to go do that thing. Our story is really no different. We just decided to go for it.
Keys to success
If there's any secrets to our success it's putting together a team that's kick-ass, you know?
We have an awesome group of people that work for us that that ultimately make this place run. And so, I tell them all the time if we do three things well we're going to be successful. Have great product; that's really on us, that's on myself and Dan to figure out.
Have great product, great service and a great atmosphere. If we do those three things we're going to be super successful.
So, it's like if we boil it down to just the small details that's ultimately at the end of the day what we're trying to do is have a great product with a great atmosphere and deliver great service. And hopefully our reviews and lines and whatever speak for themselves.
And the one thing that I would want people to know is that our line moves really fast! So, don't be dissuaded by the line if you see a long one it cranks through pretty good!
I mean we try to be pretty transparent as a as a business. I guess you don't want to show all your cards but at the same time we’re more than willing to be open about our aims and what we're hoping to do. We're definitely hoping to grow locally to start. And then we'll just see what opportunities show themselves. But we have a few different places across the valley that we're definitely interested in opening second stores.
We’re really interested in kind of growing our presence and maybe some local grocery markets if that's possible. And then we'll just see.
I mean I think that it's good to have future aims of where you want to head but the way that you actually get there is just continuing to do good work in the moment. And so, to me it's like that growth and that expansion is just a byproduct of doing the right things and doing the best work that you can on a day-in and day-out basis. And then those opportunities present themselves as a natural byproduct of that rather than being so focused on that. So, we definitely want to grow and expand, and you know I think that we'll have the opportunity to do that, but we'll just kind of see what happens.