Today we’d like to introduce you to Jasmine Chida.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was inspired by a trip to Italy; I fell in love with the food, culture, and history. The ingredients and passion put forth in their cuisine was inspiring. I have always loved ice cream it’s my absolute favorite dessert. My diet in Italy every day consisted of pizza, pasta, wine, and gelato. When I got back, I started to venture out to find gelato and sorbets which I had in Italy, but there were not many shops at the time that had the product or what was similar to what I had in Italy.
During the course of the year; I read as much as I could on the subject of dairy science, to ice cream to gelato. I took classes on dairy science and frozen dessert, and then eventually went to Italy for advanced training.
Slowly, the art of gelato and sorbet became an obsession that grew into a passion. I was practicing out of my home kitchen with a small residential Ice Cream maker. On my spare time I would test and develop different flavor recipes. I eventually started taking my product to dinner parties and as gifts for friends. I eventually decided to quit my day job and pursue this newly found passion.
Over the course of the year I found an abandoned space in a shopping center in the Museum district/ Montrose area. I really love the Montrose neighborhood for the arts and creativity, and history and felt that this was the right spot for Sweet Cup.
I developed a business plan, and took my samples to different banks in pursuit of a small business loan. I was rejected not only once, but several times. Some comments were, “This is more of a man’s profession, especially gelato which is heavily male dominated, you should reconsider.”
So I decided after being rejected numerous times by experts and bankers during the span of 6 months, I had two options: I could either go home and put my head down and give up, or I could get back up and move forward and believe in myself and my product and never look back.
We did not have a grand opening or even a soft opening; we could not afford it at the time.
We worked day and night roughly 15-20 hour days.
I served customers and made the product and would tell them my story and get acquainted with my customer- I got to know them.
Gradually our Wholesale line picked up, and in 2015 our Signature flavors (pints) debuted in all of the Whole Foods Markets in the Houston area over the span of that year and in 2017 all of the Central Market Grocery stores state wide.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It was definitely not easy; it was a road full of obstacles and challenges. From the very beginning to acquiring the empty space for lease was a struggle; we did not have any financial backing or support from the banks or investors. Also, we did not have any ties to the culinary industry/scene in Houston; it was difficult to get our name out there. My Father discouraged me from getting into this business and did not feel that this was the right fit for me either. He thought my skills would be utilized better in another profession. It was hard not having the initial support from family for a while.
Also, when I would go introduce my product to restaurants, or for wholesale; I was not taken seriously or my product since my flavors were too “out of the box or unusual.”
I was worried we would not make it past the first year, despite putting in 15-20 hour work days. I just kept focusing on my passion and drive. I really believe in my product and vision for Sweet Cup. If you don’t understand my passion, then you will never understand my product.
Sweet Cup, Gelato & Sorbet Originale – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We specialize in gelato, sorbet, and frozen yogurts made from scratch in small batches, true to the traditional Italian way but with a Texas flair and spirit. Our flavors reflect my upbringing in San Antonio, Texas and diverse cultures and culinary landscape of Houston.
We aim to redefine gelato, and sorbet not only as the Italian standard of Ice Cream but as an experience.
We are most proud of our flavors and how we can create a conversation with almost, any customer that walks through the door based on our unique flavors. Whether it is the spices we incorporate, or techniques used, or quirky flavors we make-it always strikes up a conversation and bond with our customers, that’s beautiful.
You can mix and match different flavors in our cup sizes (3 for a small, 4 for a medium and 5 for a large). We also display 24 flavors at both of our locations and rotate them based off season, and customer request. We at least have anywhere from 6-12 dairy free options (depends on the season too since we use fresh fruit for our sorbets and gelato).
We are excited to announce that we have been working for a year now, on our off-site Manufacturing Facility (Third Location), which is located in the Montrose Neighborhood. We wanted to keep it in Montrose, since we love the Montrose area and our product has always been made and a part of the Montrose community. Operating out of a 188 square foot kitchen has been a challenge compared to the amount of production we do daily. We hope with our new manufacturing facility, we can reach out to the community and conduct classes and school field trips (as requested by our customers).
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment was at my 2nd location Grand Opening in the Garden Oaks-Oak Forest area. Since we didn’t have a Grand Opening or Soft Opening for our first location in Montrose, no one knew who we were at the time or what Sweet Cup was about. It was great to have a Grand Opening party and the support of so many people, from our family, friends, staff, customers, and our vendors that showed up, it was a great turn out. Customers that were new and existing customers from as far as Galveston showed up, that truly says a lot and we are very grateful for that.
- $4.25 for a small cup (Up to 3 flavors) includes a complimentary, house made waffle chip
- $5.25 for a medium cup (Up to 4 flavors) includes a complimentary, house made waffle chip
- $6.25 for a large cup (Up to 5 flavors) includes a complimentary, house made waffle chip
- Address: Scoop Shops:
3939 Montrose Blvd., HTX 77006
3444 Ella Blvd., HTX 77018Sweet Cup Manufacturing Co.
1829 Richmond Ave., HTX 77098
- Website: sweetcupgelato.com
- Phone: 713-942-2226
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @sweetcupgelato @sweetcupella
- Facebook: Sweet Cup Gelato & Sorbet Originale
- Twitter: @sweetcupgelato
- Yelp: Sweet Cup Montrose blvd., Sweet Cup Ella blvd.