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Austin From Scratch: An Interview with Kathy Steele, Founder of Berry Austin

Austin From Scratch is our favorite series on the blog and involves Owen (age 7) and Malia (age 5) interviewing local entrepreneurs who have created a thriving business here in the heart of Texas.  For this session, we sat down with Kathy Steele, the Founder of Berry Austin.  We selected Berry Austin, our favorite froyo (frozen yogurt) in Central Texas because we love sharing a treat together…and also because Berry Austin is the premier spot in town for playing a family-friendly game of I SPY.

Before we get to the interview, however, I think it’s important to show you exactly why Berry Austin is the premier spot for playing I SPY.  As you will see from the picture below, the walls of the shop are covered by items Kathy has recycled.  Everything is hung very tastefully and in many cases it appears as though it’s artwork.  It’s definitely worth the visit and the froyo is really just the icing on the cake.

Berry Austin

Owen (our seven-year-old son)
What were your favorite things to do as a kid?

Kathy (Kathy Steele, Founder of Berry Austin)
Hmmm, my favorite things to do as a kid.  Probably all kinds of art stuff.  My mom had all kinds of art supplies for me at home and I loved to draw and paint and use markers and all kinds of artsy, crafty stuff.  I always loved to do that in my spare time.

How did you go about learning as a child?

I was a very visual learner.  I like to see things to work on them.  Things like Geometry…I liked a lot better than Algebra because I could see the drawings.  I was very much a visual learner.

When did you first know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Oh gosh.  Well, I had not planned to be an entrepreneur.  I’ve had my own design business before so I was an entrepreneur before this.  But then I took a little bit of a break so I could be a mom at home for my two kids.  Then, when they decided they were going to go off to college and I wanted another challenge so I wanted to do something that I had never done before.  And I wanted it to be challenging.  I thought this would be a fun project to take on and I could learn a whole bunch of things that I didn’t know.

What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?

I really like being able to create my own business.  That was something I was most excited about it…was doing all my own way.  I also really, really, really like yogurt.  That was really important.  And the other thing is I really, really,  really like working with people so in this business I get to visit with all my customers and that’s a lot of fun.

What would you be doing if you weren’t running Berry Austin?

I probably would be back in school because I love to learn and I would probably go back to college again.  And that’s one of the things that I liked about starting this business is that I’m doing all kinds of things that I didn’t know how to do before.  So it was a creative challenge for me and it kind of took me out of my comfort zone.  And I was doing all kinds of things that I had to learn about.  So, I love to learn so I would probably be back in college again.

What is your favorite flavor of yogurt?

My favorite, favorite flavor is tart.  And I like tart all by itself.  Probably every day I have some tart yogurt, straight up with no toppings.  And I also like all the other flavors but tart is my favorite.

Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?

I probably would advise a young entrepreneur to find something you really, really like….that you’re passionate about.  And then, once you find something that you’re passionate about….like I really liked yogurt and I really like to recycle and I really like art…and that’s how I came up with this business.  But before I opened I did all my homework and I made sure my business idea was viable.  Do you know what viable means?  It means that’s it’s going to work – that it has potential to be successful.  Because if I was really excited about making paper airplanes, I probably wouldn’t open a business because I don’t think I can sell enough of them.  So I would advise a young entrepreneur to find something that you’re really excited about because then your work is fun.  It doesn’t feel like work.  Especially if it’s something you enjoy.  Because you want to do something that’s fun, right?

Malia (our five-year-old daughter)
How did you come up with this idea?

I was visiting my dad in another state and I had never tried this kind of yogurt.  And he was pretty sick and when I went to visit him we found he could eat this kind of yogurt.  And he really liked it and I really, really liked it so I was with him  for a week and we had yogurt every single day.  And when I came back to Austin there was no yogurt here.  So I started doing all my homework and tried to find other places that served yogurt.  And I started looking around and I had to look in other states and find other businesses that had that kind of yogurt.  I looked all over the east coast and west coast and did my homework and realized that all the other yogurt places looked the same.  So I thought I could do something really unique and fun.  And that’s how I decided to open my own store.

Thank you Kathy.  WE SPY something wonderful!

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. sheryl #

    been there…had the yogurt…played i spy 🙂

    March 21, 2013
  2. chris #

    We’ve been there as well. I will say that it’s very tempting to be able to serve your own yogurt and goodies – especially all the tasty options they have to offer. Cute interview!

    March 21, 2013
  3. Lloyd #

    I hope there was much yogurt to be consumed after this interview!

    March 21, 2013
  4. A lovely interview, thank you Malia and Owen! I especially like the reminder about doing something you are really really passionate about. Then it isn’t really like working at all. Fun is a very important part of entrepreneurship.

    March 24, 2013

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