Growth Stories

Following up with former program participants.

Meet Valerie Ward and Amelia Raley, co-founders of Sweet Ritual Vegan Ice Cream

“The program taught us to understand our business as a whole, as well as specific tools and strategies for growing and adapting. We also got the opportunity to connect with a community of other small business owners and learn from one another.”

Q & A

What is Sweet Ritual and what do you do?

Sweet Ritual makes dairy-free ice cream in our own factory and sells it through our scoop shop on Airport Boulevard as well as through local grocers and restaurants.

What was your business situation before joining the program?

Sweet Ritual had been in business for a few years, and had just moved from our original location, sharing space with a juice bar in Hyde Park, to our own shop in a shopping center. As soon as we moved we saw unprecedented sales growth and realized we would need more space.

We joined FASTForward [now Small-biz.XLR8] because we recognized an opportunity for world-class learning at a bargain price, and we knew we were at a point in our company’s growth where we needed some expert assistance. We were also excited to meet and learn alongside other small business owners.

What changes did you make to your business?

We already knew we needed to expand our physical space, and the program helped us imagine what our remodeled scoop shop needed to be. Because we understood our customers better, we were able to create a space that served their needs…we also strengthened our strategic planning skills and have been able to navigate what seems like crisis after crisis and stay afloat.

What other outcomes occurred from your participation?

We have successfully stayed in business through individual and global crises, and a lot of that is thanks to strong networks we built with other businesses, including some fellow FASTForward[previous program name] classmates. Being able to see the challenges that other companies were facing, and seeing the commonalities across industries has enabled us to create stronger relationships.