The mother-daughter team of Wendy and Chloe Collins whips up vegan pops in shared commercial kitchen space just outside the Perimeter. Their business, Perennial Pop Co., is the result of a desire to find dairy-free frozen desserts with high-quality ingredients and interesting flavors.
The name of the company reflects their love of plants and botanical flavors. “I loved creamy desserts, and was constantly wandering down the ice cream aisle of the supermarket, looking for something that I could enjoy, despite having problems digesting dairy and soy,” Chloe said. “When we decided we could create our own, we designed a logo that was a nod to my mom’s mom, and her love of lavender. It was our way of including her in our business, as well.”
Unlike many food entrepreneurs, the Collinses didn’t start with a beloved recipe that friends and family urged them take to the masses. They saw the need for a product, and decided they could fill it.
“We had a vision,” Wendy said. “Pops made with organic, fair trade and locally grown ingredients, and as allergen-free as possible. We moved to Atlanta and saw this could be the right market, because Southerners were starting to pay attention to plant-based ingredients.”
That was early in 2017. “We did research to see what kind of equipment we needed, and what ingredients would work for the creamy vegan dessert we wanted to produce,” Chloe said.
“We had ideas about flavors immediately,” she added. “We tested a lime pineapple coconut pop on family and friends, and got good feedback. Then, we tried fudge, coconut and strawberry. We’d have ‘focus groups,’ inviting people over. They’d bring their friends, and we’d be in our living room, giving out samples of pops and handing out feedback forms. That was our first market research.”
More research helped them understand the chemistry of working with certain ingredients. How could they infuse the basil for their blueberry lemon basil pop? How could they incorporate rose petals and rose water for their vanilla rose pop?
“It was a lot of trial and error,” Wendy said. “It was two or three months of experimenting with home equipment, and then another two or three months of testing with commercial equipment before we were ready.”
Research done, they were ready to launch Perennial Pop Co. in October, 2017.
They started small, at special events, like a party for the Recording Academy. By May, 2018, they were ready to sell their pops at festivals and events in Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Decatur, Norcross and Serenbe, and at the intown market of Morningside and the Green Market at Piedmont Park.
They do corporate events, as well, and the business is now a full-time occupation for both mother and daughter. And, they’re concentrating on getting their pops into retail outlets.
When you find a Perennial Pop Co. booth, you’ll generally have a choice of five or six flavors. Summer flavors might include mango, lime pineapple coconut, and blueberry lemon basil. There’s a golden milk turmeric pop they thought would be seasonal, but their customers love it so much, it’s in demand year-round. Holidays, like Mother’s Day, give them an excuse to bring out the vanilla rose pops or raspberry lavender. In winter, the deeper flavors, like salted caramel apple and mint chocolate, are featured.
Each pop is made by hand. Food-safe plastic buckets and immersion blenders are their stock in trade. The blended mixture goes into molds, with some ingredients, like rose petals, added at the last minute. Their specialized equipment means pops are frozen in about 30 minutes. While the pops are freezing, the plastic sleeves are hand-labeled, front and back. Then, it’s time to insert the pops into their sleeves and hand-seal each one.
“Our interest in flavors shifts, depending on the time of year, how we’re feeling, and if we haven’t gotten tired of them,” Wendy said with a laugh. “My favorites are still our matcha coconut and blueberry lemon basil, but it really does depend on my mood.”
“We are so grateful for the support we’ve received from the Atlanta community,” Chloe said. “People in the vegan community are excited to have us, but we’ve found, in sampling our pops, that we can change people’s ideas of what plant-based or vegan means. It’s so nice when you see people accept the idea that our pops are not just for certain people.”
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