#WIB- Q&A With Natasha Fagri Creator of Frost Popsicles

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Natasha and her business partner Jon Marc De Carvalho

1. Can you please tell us more about your business?

A. Frost Popsicles are the first and only range of premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic Popsicles in South Africa.

Frost Popsicles launched on 1 September 2016 and has continued to grow and flourish since. We initially launched in 25 Pick n Pay stores and are now stocked in just under 60 liquor retail outlets in Gauteng and the Western Cape (Pick n Pay, Spar Tops! and independent stores). The non-alcoholic lines are also available in select Wellness Warehouse, Spar Grocery and Dischem stores in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town. We have exported to Botswana, Mauritius, and Singapore and there are further very exciting international growth plans in the pipeline. We also launched a full-service e-commerce store on the Frost website in 2017 to cater for direct-to-customer demand.

The product range started with two alcoholic popsicles made using Haute Cabriere wines – a Pierre Jourdan Tranquille popsicle and a Brut Cap Classique popsicle.

Over the last 3 years, the range has grown to include a total of 6 alcoholic Popsicles (Pierre Jourdan Tranquille, Brut, Blood Orange Screwdriver, Passion Fruit & Peach Margarita, G&T Classic & G&T Berry Infusion made with spirits specially distilled by Hope On Hopkins).

Frost Popsicles also recently launched a premium non-alcoholic range in response to consumer trends and demand – a Pomegranate, Grapefruit and Hibiscus, a Peach, Strawberry and Banana, and a Vanilla Coffee (the only popsicle in the overall range that is not vegan-friendly)

All the products are free of artificial ingredients and with no added glucose or sucrose. All packaging is 100% recyclable.

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Natasha Fagri
2. When, how and why did you start your business?

A. After seeing a concept overseas that I knew we could do better, I approached my now business partner Jon-Marc de Carvalho and we developed the original popsicles on my stove at home, experimenting until we had what was the winning flavour profile. We then embarked on a 13-month development journey, where we found a food science lab to commercially stabilize the formulation. We also sourced and imported a specialist machine – one of the only ones of its kind in South Africa.

The process started in 2015.  Frost Popsicles hit the stores on 1 September 2016.

3. What is your role in the business?

A. As Director and Co-Owner I have visibility of all aspects of the business but my key areas of expertise lie in Sales, Marketing, Product Innovation & Exporting.

4. Where did you study and what did you study?

A. Bond University, Gold Coast Australia. Masters of Communication majoring in Strategic Marketing.

5. How did you finance your business?

A. The development process and first year of operation post-launch was fully self-funded by myself and my business partner. In late 2017 we brought a minority investment partner on board.

6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.

A. Haha, it really doesn’t, but on average, my alarm goes off between 06:00 – 06:30 am. I have a coffee and if I don’t have meetings planned for the day, I’m in front of my laptop clearing emails and actioning tasks by 07:30 am latest after having some breakfast and getting ready. I like to fit in an hour of gym either late morning or early afternoon (workload and deadlines dictate what time of the day I can go). On a good day, I can close my computer at 5:30pm/6pm and I like to be in bed by 10 pm latest Monday – Thursday 

7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?

A. Balance can be a challenge, but I’ve gotten a lot better at toning down the workaholic in me!

I went through extreme burnout at the end of 2013 when I was working in London and was booked off work for 2 months. That was a big eye-opener for me on the importance of looking after myself better and finding time for me.

This, of course, went out the window when we started Frost and I was close to burnout again until I pulled myself towards myself.  I’ve always been active (sport in school and afterward regular visits to the gym).  I started forcing myself to gym again at least three times a week and I stopped rushing meals. I had gotten into a horrible habit of eating on the go, which is terrible!

You should be able to take at least an hour out of every day uninterrupted for something. Whether that is having a meal, going to the gym or just zoning out listening to music or feeding another creative outlet.

Self-care is now very important to me.  I gym 3-4 times a week, try and have a massage every two months and I prioritize social time and “do nothing me time” – all things that in the past used to be the first to get the boot when I was busy. Doing these things has made me a happier person all round and more effective work-wise because my brain is getting a break which in turns feeds my ability to be able to think strategically and creatively.

My tips/hacks for entrepreneurs regarding self-care are as follows:
  • Don’t downplay its importance – everything (including you) works better when it’s turned off for a bit every now and then.
  • There is no right or wrong method or pursuit – self–care is whatever you want it to be. Reading a book, catching up with friends and/or family, working out or even spending quality time with a pet! (one of my best)
  • Make it a habit and stick to it. As Jon-Marc said, yes sometimes you have to move things around and flexibility is key but don’t make excuses not to look after yourself. You’ll suffer in the long run if you do.
8. What drives you and inspires you?

A. Quite simply, I don’t like to fail and I like to be the best at whatever I’m doing. I refuse to give up on something until I know I have done everything within my power to make it work! I want to create and build a business and brand that inspires other women to chase their dreams and pursue their goals. I also want to be a mom one day and I’d love my son or daughter to have a business legacy he/she can feel proud of.

9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?

A. Hmmm…usually not where you’d imagine! Whilst driving or relaxing in the bath.

10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?

A. I’m a huge believer in a beautifully designed, responsive website, social media platforms, strategic PR placement (editorials and advertorials) and taking a presence at select, appropriate public events.  Marketing and advertising activity needs to be measurable and have a clear ROI, or what is the point?

11. What is next for your business?

A. A very exciting overseas launch in 2020.

12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?

1. Get it out of your head that in order to succeed you need to “be like a man”. A woman can be strong, influential and impactful whilst still being graceful with a soft touch. You don’t’ need to be “one of the boys” in order to progress and be respected.

2. Back yourself! As women, we are too quick to doubt our own abilities and ideas and we play down the importance of trusting our gut. Women have unique intuition that in business can be extremely useful. Trust that! Always engage the brain but don’t forget the heart.

3. Voice your ideas and thoughts. You’re brilliant and you have a voice – use it, it’s important!

4. Don’t be afraid to fail. There isn’t a success story in history where everything went perfectly the first time. Step out of your comfort zone and be brave. You don’t learn when things go smoothly, you learn when times get tough and solutions and strategies are needed.

5. Surround yourself (both personally and in business) with people who want to see you succeed. People that inspire you to be the best version of yourself and want you to move forward. People you can speak honestly with and whom you can trust. Cut out unnecessary negativity and remember there’s a big difference between realism and pessimism.

For more information on Frost Popsicles visit frostpopsicles.com