In the heat of the summer, when you’re finished with work, it’s time to relax. But that’s not the case for Colorado State University students Jarod Dunn and Rebecca Barringer.
Once they’re done for the day, they head to a catering kitchen on East Mulberry Street and spend seven hours or more making popsicles for their business, Revolution Artisan Pops.
They slice locally grown rhubarb, strawberries or cucumber, sometimes mixing the ingredients with a special blend of Harbinger coffee, organic Hibiscus tea from Happy Lucky’s Teahouse or Morning Fresh Dairy milk for a creamy popsicle. They then pour the concoction into a mold and wait for the bars to freeze.
The dynamic duo makes more than 300 popsicles in one hour.
Jarod: rhubarb jasmine, Harbinger’s coffee with sweet cream
Rebecca: coconut cream and raspberry hibiscus
Dunn, who is working on a Ph.D. through the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, grew up in the food industry. His parents owned a bakery, and he helped make baked goods and worked long hours in the family business. Dunn also made craft cocktails while bartending during his undergraduate years at Texas State University, where he majored in finance.
He and Barringer, who will be a senior in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, got the idea to launch a popsicle shop after visiting Steel City Pops in Dallas last year. They saw firsthand how popular the shop was and that business was booming.
“It was a ‘lightbulb’ moment,” said Dunn. “I thought, ‘We could source ingredients from around Fort Collins and open a shop in Old Town.’ There wasn’t anything like that around here.”
Business plan a year in the making
They spent a year working on recipes, figuring out finances and working out the logistics involved in starting a small business. Then one day last November, they were walking in Old Town and saw a space on College Avenue that had just become available. They jumped at the chance to rent it, and officially opened for business last February.
Barringer, who worked as a server for four years in Vail, said her nutrition studies at CSU, and more specifically, what she’s learned about sugars, have come in handy. Revolution Artisan Pops uses organic cane sugar in its popsicles.
Things got so busy when they launched last spring, Barringer had to create a detailed plan for the day, blocking out specific times to do everything from studying to taking a shower.
“Owning a business means you can’t ask the boss for time off because you have an exam or three coming up, you have to make time and adjust,” she said. “The good news is that after graduation, ‘only’ helping run a business will feel like a relief!”
Events help spread the word about popsicles
In addition to maintaining the store, Dunn and Barringer have served fruity and creamy pops at events like Taste of Fort Collins. They recently teamed up with Van Co School of Art and Downtown Artery for “Arts and Pops,” a popsicle stick crafting event for children. They even make popsicles for pets, called pupsicles, and served the treats to dogs in day care at The Dog Pawlour.
Networking at different city events has helped with business. “Business is going really well,” said Barringer. “We’ve seen a steady increase in not only sales, but also interest from organizations and individuals to have us vend or cater their event.”
What’s in a name
As for the name and logo — a clenched fist holding a brightly-colored popsicle — Dunn said it speaks to a new wave they’ve created in sweet treats. “We’re revolutionary,” he explained. “Popsicles are boring, made from sugar and water in stores. We’ve come up with a revolutionary way to offer an alternative dessert option for people in Fort Collins. They can buy our popsicles and support a lot of local businesses.”
Dunn, who has a master’s degree in environmental economics from Utah State University, hopes to finish his graduate studies at CSU in May. His research is focused on the pine beetle problem in national forests. He’s examining cost structure, benefits of the ecosystem, where the beetle kill is in the forest, and what the U.S. Forest Service faces in combatting the problem.