While entertaining poolside at her Bainbridge Road home last summer, Nicole Dauria whipped up a batch of handmade popsicles to put a unique touch on brunch for friends.
“They were to die for,” she said about the frozen treats. “As soon as I tasted the popsicles, I knew I had a good product. I thought it would be cool to start a business.”
That sparked the new venture for the 50-year-old former corporate recruiter.
Ms. Dauria began coming up with new recipes, which kept getting better and better, and doing her research, enlisting the help of her son Dominic.
“I thought this was something we could do as a family,” she said. It also could be a way for Ms. Dauria and her wife Tracie Longpre to teach their children work ethics, responsibility and teamwork, she said.
So with the artistic background of daughter Mia, 10, Pop Culture CLE took root in June of 2018.
Since that time, the gourmet all-natural popsicles, with mostly locally sourced fruit, no preservatives and seasonally inspired, found their place in a variety of events, including at the Thanksgiving dinner table with flavors like Key Lime Pie and Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie ice pops.
“People were calling and ordering 20 or 30 to take to their dinner party,” said Ms. Dauria, a 1987 graduate of Solon High School.
“We produce our treats with high standards and sell them in our community with a passion for art and food,” she said.
The gourmet artisan pops are made of all natural, high-quality ingredients and are dairy free and low in sugar that is organic.
For now, the pops are created in the family kitchen, but the assembly line soon will be moved to a work space at Chagrin Valley Kitchen. Pop Culture CLE also has a tricycle push cart and food truck that appear at numerous events.
Ms. Dauria said that while she wants to grow the business to a storefront and do dippings for an “awesome experience,” keeping it small means quality is always ensured.
“Once you take it wholesale, you compromise the quality of the product,” she said, “and we believe in providing a high quality product.”
The family will have new equipment from Brazil in March to use in the industrial kitchen.
Right now, the home kitchen has lots of laughter and music to move the process along.
“I’m excited to be a part of our family business and want to learn everything I can with the hopes of taking it over one day,” said Dominic, a student at Willoughby South High School.
This experience likely will influence his future in the workforce. “Having a job is hard, but doing something you love is nice,” Dominic said.
Mia, who serves as art director for the family business and is credited with developing the company’s logo, looks forward to designing shirts that can be sold for the business, she said.
“As long as it is a family business, I will always help,” Mia added.
“Creating art work is my favorite part of the business,” said Mia, a student at Parkside Elementary School.
Ms. Dauria said coming up with flavors has been fun. Mia’s favorite is the strawberry.
“It is the best popsicle I have ever had.”
The coconut pop is made with real coconut milk and chunks of coconut flakes resulting in density with every bite. Chocolate peppermint dipped in dark chocolate rolled in candy cane and pistachio popsicles are among the other favorites.
The popsicles are complete with customized stickers on the packaging and engraved sticks.
“It’s a full on experience,” said Ms. Dauria, who calls herself a PopPreneur.
The go to market strategy for Pop Culture CLE is to sell at special events, and for catering and private parties. They were part of the last Taste of Solon, and this summer can be found at such events as LaureLive and Blossom Time in Chagrin Falls and Solon Home Days.
Ms. Dauria grew up on Meadowdale Lane before moving to Florida on a basketball scholarship to University of Central Florida. She moved back to Solon in 2001 and Pop Culture CLE is now her full-time job.
“I spent time putting our business plan together and now I’m all in,” she said.
In her spare time, Ms. Dauria said she enjoys entertaining, yard work and cooking.
“Every business has to have a vision of where they will be in first year, three years, five years, 10 years,” she said. “What I’ve found is we want to stay in this smaller space” in order to maintain quality.
“Find us in your community, and bet you can’t buy just one,” she said.