Just one year ago, New York City–based Chloe's Soft Serve Fruit Co.—a brand known for making healthy alternatives to soft-serve ice cream and frozen yogurt—was struggling to find a niche for its frozen treat. Michael Sloan, cofounder and CEO of Chloe's, says there were a number of factors working against the brand.
“We were not very good at opening up and managing stores; we didn't have the cheapest cost per capital; we weren't the best at managing our store employees or at distributing our own product; and we were not the best manufacturer of the product, because we didn't have all the equipment,” he says.
But once Chloe's decided to alter the focus of its business plan to capitalize on existing infrastructure, everything changed, Sloan says.
“We switched our focus to the wholesale model to answer the demand,” he says. “[Chefs, foodservice directors, and foodservice companies] were looking for something that was healthier and still tasted great to put in their machine because the frozen yogurt volume in foodservice has been slowing down. They're looking for ways to increase the volume back up. Chloe's is the answer to that.”
Since March of this year, Chloe's has partnered with 11 various East Coast distributors. Sloan says the distributors have been instrumental in connecting Chloe's with companies that now carry the product.
“Our volume has greatly increased,” he says. “We used to make our pops by hand in our commissary, where we got up to 6,000 pops a week. Then in July, we went to a new co-packer and we were able to do 1.2 million pops in one week.”
Sloan says the success the brand has experienced over the past year is largely due to the variation and texture of the product. Chloe's has 16 varieties that rotate seasonally, with eight available for distribution at all times. “It's all about the taste,” he says. “Any chef that tries it says it's like nothing they've tasted before, and they can't believe it's only made of three ingredients.”
Sloan says many consumers seek out Chloe's product because it is a healthier alternative to frozen yogurt. The soft-serve fruit is dairy free, fat free, gluten free, vegan, kosher, and free of all eight major allergens.
Chloe's fruit is available in two forms, both as a frozen popsicle and as soft serve. Sloan says providing two variations on the product have boosted sales tremendously.
“We just launched in the Boston area, and we heard from a family where the kid has a pop at school, the mom has soft serve at work, and then they go to a frozen-yogurt store in the afternoon to get our soft serve after school as a snack,” Sloan says. “That's what we're looking for.”
Sloan says the growth over the past year is only the first chapter of Chloe's success story, adding that the brand is looking to expand into schools, hospitals, entertainment venues, and more.
“It's been really finding our niche and finding where people are looking for something like this,” he says. “The product speaks for itself.”
By Marlee Murphy