I love a good successful entrepreneur story, as an entrepreneur myself I know just how hard it is to make it in this world. I will be the first to tell you it ain’t easy working for yourself, and honestly I had no idea what I was getting myself into 13 years ago when I decided to go out and start a business. I don’t think being an entrepreneur is for everyone, it’s such a roller coaster of a ride that most people just can’t hack it. There is so much uncertainty, risk, insecurity, sleepless nights wondering what your next paycheque will actually be….but through it all I wouldn’t change a thing. It has allowed me to work from home, have the flexibility to be with my kids when they need me and most of all work for myself!
I recently took a trip to Calgary to visit my best friend and take in a few events. We both love ice cream so when the opportunity came to take a tour of Fiasco Gelato we jumped at it! I grew up in Winnipeg where there is a gelato shop in every neighbourhood, I noticed years ago that this was not the same in other cities we lived in including Calgary!
I’ve been a long time customer of Fiasco Gelato, I remember when they opened one of their first locations on 17th ave how excited I was to finally be able to have gelato in Calgary! From there we moved to Edmonton and again came across the same problem, there were nowhere to find gelato in the city. Fiasco Gelato can now be found in many retail stores throughout the country, but their expansion didn’t come easy as we learned on our tour.
Fiasco was originally founded in 2003 with store front locations throughout Calgary. In 2009 amidst a recession the company was acquired by James Boettcher who reduced it to one store front and began reinventing the brand. Soon after taking over the only remaining store front was gutted by a devastating fire which left them no choice but to close the location and start thinking about what could be done to reinvent the brand. Now at this point many people would have just given up, but they didn’t.
The next hardship came in 2013 when Calgary suffered a devastating flood. Fiasco Gelato was doing well again, having switched their model to sell their products at a wholesale level to many restaurants in the city. But with the flood came many restaurant closures in Calgary. This affected Fiasco Gelato in a big way as many of their wholesale customers no longer had space to sell their gelato. Through their generous efforts they launched two special gelato flavours to help fundraise for the Calgary Zoo rebuild. From their pro social spending efforts they were able to help raise thousands of dollars for the zoo and put their name out there again.
In 2015 once they had opened their brand new manufacturing facility they suffered another blow with a devastating fire started by their gelato display case. The staff rallied together to clean up and rebuild the brand once again. Today they are thriving with national brand recognition and over 2000 retail locations carrying their gelato!
Culture is a big part of Fiasco Gelato. One of my favourite things about the tour were these quotes that were scattered throughout the facility. I love inspirational quotes, and I love learning from books. The Fiasco Gelato offices also have a library filled with great business and entrepreneur books for the staff to read. All the titles are books that James Boettcher has personally read himself and believes in.
At the end of the tour it’s time for a tasting! You are treated to a flight of Fiasco Gelato allowing you to try 4 flavours of your choice (flavour selection varies per visit). I tried the toasted coconut, frose, passionfruit lemonade (my personal fave) and Madagascar vanilla. I can’t recommend this experience enough, it’s a really cool way to see inside the business and learn about them! The tour is only available certain days of the week, be sure to book online before you go!