Back when I was grinding away at my career as a professional dancer, I was working at a snazzy sushi restaurant in Brentwood, California, a posh suburb of Los Angeles that was home to every A-list actor and influential film producer in town. Tom Hanks called me Jess, I knew Leslie Mann & Judd Apatow's order by heart, Lupita Nyong'o was so stunning I could hardly look at her and Jim Carrey showed me hilarious home videos on his cell phone.. just to name (drop) a few. However, what had stuck with me the most after leaving that job was this lovely human being who was a genius behind the bar: she kept her cool when she needed ten more hands, would make up recipes for unique cocktails that would jet-set me to a beach in Mexico or a high rise in Hong Kong, and of course, was as kind as they come.
One day while working a slow lunch shift, we got to talking over these DELICIOUS macaroons that she had made and brought in to share. I'm telling you, when I get the chance to visit Paris, I guarantee you after my first bite into a Parisian macaroon I'll say to myself "Nope, Adrienne's are better!" Every taste took me to a different experience in my mind because her flavors, like her cocktails, were inspired by her travels and love for different cultures. The texture was perfect, like puffy clouds with a tender crunch as I took each bite, and the love she poured into them was palatable. She shared that she was a food science graduate from the same University I went to for Psychology (California State University, Northridge) and how she was inspired (she says obsessed) with the recipes of pastry chef Pierre Hermé, which is why I was snacking on these to-die-for treats. I was grateful I got to experience her macaroons and talent for mixology first hand but I had a sense the Universe had bigger plans for her.
Cut to a few years later where I've kept up with Adrienne via social media, and to my elated surprise, I witnessed her progressively share photos and updates of her opening her own artisanal ice cream shop. With flavors inspired by none other then the places she's traveled to, destinations she longs to visit and childhood memories, THIS (in my humble opinion) is where she's been headed and guided to her entire life. Alongside her partner JP, a former litigation attorney turned entrepreneur who would take the role of operations for the company, came Wanderlust Creamery (can we take a moment of silence for how apropos the name is?! Nailed it.) I now have words for the feeling I got while watching her life unfold for her. She had followed her wisdom, her gut instinct, her resolve to follow that instinct was so strong she didn't believe the opinions of her thoughts, and had taken the leap. What a risk, what bravery. But when you know, you know... and she surrendered to the feeling. And because of her surrender, I could feel where she was creating from, I could feel that this business was coming straight from her gut.
It was she who inspired this series that will unfold intermittently throughout my Monday Musings, being a spearhead for the spotlights of all the incredible women in my life whose stories will no doubt be of inspiration to you and an opportunity to see your reflection in these change makers that I'm so lucky to be witness to. So without further ado, with an unheralded three stores in three years in the LA area, as well as a permanent spot in the hip Downtown LA food market Smorgasburg LA, I introduce Adrienne and her experience of what it was like to Take The Leap...
Jessie: What was your first instinct/insight about Wanderlust Creamery? The very first thought that bubbled up from your gut that made you think, "I could do that, in fact, I SHOULD do that!"?
Adrienne: I was on an ice cream kick in late 2014. I’d eat at a lot of artisanal ice cream places and while I loved the quality of the products, I thought the flavors were so boring. On the other hand, I’d frequent more exotic places, where I’d love the flavors, but find the ice cream quality really bad. In November of 2014 I was shopping for a home ice cream maker to make my own “exotic, but good quality” ice cream. I did a lot of researching and found the Cadillac of home ice cream makers: a Lelo Musso Pola gelato machine. It was $1300 because it qualified as commercial kitchen equipment. To justify the purchase, I kind of told people it was “an investment because I planned to open a ice cream shop”. I never really had an intention of doing that really- I just wanted to spend $1300 on a hobby and not feel guilty about it. After a week with my new obsession, I made my 2015 New Year’s Resolution to take the leap and finally open a food business.
J: Did you have any doubts? How did you continue to march forward with your vision while having those doubts?
A: I’ve always had doubts. To this very day, I still have them. I remember the moment I signed the lease for our first store- just 5 months after buying that gelato machine. It was time to put my feet to the fire. During the business planning in the months leading up to that moment, there was always a chance to chicken out. But in signing the lease, I was making myself financially liable if the business failed. There was no turning back. I thought to myself, “Whether or not it works out, I NEED to know how this all ends. If it doesn’t work out, then I need to find out sooner than later so I can get on with my life, and do something else.” I was terrified, yet I also had this burning curiosity to see what would happen next- good or bad. I also remember feeling a sense of surrender as if I had pre-accepted any failure that would come. It hasn’t come yet. (<-- Can we get an AMEN!?!)
J: How long did you have a side hustle before going all in?
A: I kept my part time bartending gig at a nightclub because it was a really lucrative side hustle and the hours were really flexible. It wasn’t until the first Spring after Wanderlust opened that the volume really picked up and I devoted all my time to my business.
J: Did you encounter any issues?
A: So many! Our walk-in freezer broke the week after we opened our first location. We spent half a day pouring our entire stock of ice cream (melted) down the drain.
J: How did things begin to unfold for you? Did you set goals for yourself and the business? Or did things unfold without your even thinking about it?
A: While I do set goals for the business, a lot of the most amazing things have happened without me even thinking about it.
J: What was your first "Oh shit, it's happening & working!" moment?
A: Everyone (bankers, other restaurateurs & entrepreneurs) told us we wouldn’t see a single cent of profit within our first year, and most likely wouldn’t even break even for the first six months. After the very first month of being open, we did our financials and we surprisingly were able to pay all the bills and labor with a teeny amount to roll over for the next month. It wasn’t a huge success, but it definitely was not the failure we braced for. It was a definite “Oh shit” moment for us.
J: What does your gut instinct feel like to you? What does your body and mind feel like when making decisions from this place?
A: I feel like I get my “gut instinct” in moments of defeat or tiredness where I throw my hands up in the air and say “eh whatever”. At the end of a struggle in a stressful situation, I’ll just kind of resign myself to not caring as much, and then I’ll have an epiphany. (<-- What I always talk about, guys! The moment you stop trying to figure out a solution and you look the other way, the calm that comes with that surrender allows for the fresh, creative thinking to support your wisdom to come through!)
J: Do you have any visions of Wanderlust's next move or expansion? Any further dreams or are you going to continue to let it unfold?
A: I tell myself everyday that it could all go away, so I have zero expectations of what will come next. I do however have one tiny wish: to have a Wanderlust Creamery at LAX airport. (<-- Uh, yes please! A delicious and fresh treat after a long day of travel? Additionally reminding you of where you just came from or inspiring you for your next vacation?! No brainer!)
J: Any other comments you think people should know about you, your experience, or taking the leap?
A: Aren’t you eager to find out if the “hunch” you had all your life was true or not? Wouldn’t you like to know now so you can stop wasting your time?
Yes, Adrienne, YES!
Dear reader, it is my hope that you have taken in Adrienne's story and can see yourself in her reflection. Female or male, teen or retired - each and every one of you are meant for something great, your VOICE is meant to be heard. No matter the field, career or service that may be of interest to you. No time is ever lost - if you have a feeling within you to start something new or try something new; To go after that idea you had years ago or want to explore a part of yourself your thoughts made you believe you couldn't before, go for it. Start to have an imagination around it in your mind, buy some tools, take a class, or start with a conversation about it with someone you trust. Just putting it in your ether allows the Universe to recognize that you're going for it, and life will begin to open up for you. I know this to be true - from personal experience as well as what you've heard here from Adrienne and the many women I'll be sharing to come. This series is to show you what's possible - that you don't have to be a millionaire to make it happen, that you don't have to wait til "things line up" to take the leap; That when something feels right, then it is right. You just have to take the steps to raise your vibrations and get things in motion - the rest is surrender and trust.
Finally, I'll leave you with a piece of Adrienne's story that made my jaw drop, gave me chills all over and brought tears to my eyes, even though things like this shouldn't surprise me anymore. After Adrienne was receiving press over the success of her first location, a distant family member got in touch to congratulate her on following in her grandfather's footsteps. Having not known her grandfather because he passed away many years before she was born, she didn't know what he was referring to...
...Turns out he was a flavor chemist for Magnolia Ice Cream, and she had no idea.
The Universe works in mysterious ways - when you get out of your own way and follow the feeling within you - magic happens.
See you next week,
PPS - Their ice cream is of course, DELICIOUS.