BETHLEHEM — Market Pops founder Heidi Nathanielsz wants to bring unadulterated joy to the Capital District with her gourmet ice pop and its diverse flavor options.
Holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony for her new Market Pops business on Wednesday, July 17 at 3 p.m. at the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce, Nathanielsz said she handmakes all of the popsicles. One main important factor is sourcing as many ingredients as possible from local vendors, she said.
Examples include coffee from Brewtus Roasting in Bethlehem, local rhubarb and lavender from Lavenlair Farms in Whitehall, honey from Good Day Honey in Coeymans, and berries from Bulich Creekside Farm in Catskill.
“That makes the business unique because when you buy a popsicle from me, you’re actually also supporting several other local vendors,” she said. In an additional emailed statement, she added that Market Pops “strives to bring local fruit straight from farm to freezer, showcasing the incredible flavors of our region. The fresh ice pops you get from us may have ingredients from several other vendors at the same Farmers Market; your purchase from us is supporting local businesses and farms all at once.”
Market Pops, originally founded in July 2018 and officially launched on May 1 this year, offers flavors like Strawberry Rhubarb, Sweet Plum Ginger, Key Lime Pie, Lemon Lavender, Mexican Hot Chocolate, Blueberry Lemonade, Peach and Watermelon Mint.
The Capital District-centric business serves three local Farmers Markets in Troy, Delmar and Schenectady; special pop-up events; and local private events like weddings, college engagements and corporate events.
“People have mostly been reaching out to me and we’ve had tremendous success so far,” Nathanielsz said. “It’s been a grassroots social media effort as well as positive word-of-mouth which was my design in the beginning where I wanted to get out there, talk with customers about the product and so on.”
Market Pops interestingly lacks a physical storefront and Nathanielsz opted instead to operate it in a mobile Icicle Tricycle, which she said was a customized bicycle made from Oregon.
“Not having a storefront is a way to be out in the community and we can bring the pops to the people,” she explained. “It was a really great tool to both store and deliver ice pops. The more I can be out and interacting with the customers, the more it benefits me.”
She added that the Icicle Tricycle was an additional creative marketing tool for her business too, particularly with its bright and colorful exterior and bearing its social media and website links.
“People love the bike and I have bike enthusiasts who like to come check out the gear, and kids who want to hop on the bike and ring the bell, and people now recognize it in public,” she said.
For now, the business is designed to serve customers from May to October, and products may show up in local grocery stores someday in the future, depending on demand.
While some flavors would remain available throughout the entire May-through-October timeframe like lemonade and mango, Nathanielsz expressed interest in offering limited specific flavors too.
“As we shift through seasons, when we started in the spring, for example, there were a lot of citrus-flavored popsicles. So, in the fall, maybe we’ll have a pumpkin or caramel-flavored one,” she said. “It’s interesting to look into what we eat, depending on the temperature outside.”
Also, more flavors may be added after Nathanielsz assesses the customer demand by the end of this year.
Market Pops’ roots stem from Nathanielsz’s personal affinity for food, conversations she had with her own children, and her entrepreneurial background.
Nathanielsz had graduated from the Capital Region Chamber Entrepreneur Bootcamp, run by the area’s Chamber of Commerce, and won the grand prize in its business plan competition in fall 2018 for her Market Pops business plan.
“It was a state-funded program and was essentially a crash course of running your own business,” she said. “Every week was a different panel of experts from the region that come in to go through every aspect of a small business.
Topics included fees, marketing, financial projections and legal issues about owning a business. At the end of this course, you’d leave with a comprehensive business plan which you’d need to secure funding.”
Nathanielsz said the grand prize she won was $2,000 and a year-long membership to the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce.
Since the business was launched, Nathanielsz said that it can be a challenging journey at times.
“You have to put in the hours, you have to hustle and really believe in your product,” she said. “
You really have to love what you’re doing because it’s a huge time, money and energy commitment but the rewards of owning your own business are invaluable.”
Looking ahead, Nathanielsz said she hopes to grow Market Pops into a “true regional business where we have our own manufacturing facility, and our own fleet of bikes that are everywhere from Glens Falls down to Poughkeepsie and maybe to western New York.”
When asked if she had a message for any entrepreneur hopefuls, Nathanielsz said, “If you have an idea and you want to try it out, go for it. Because being an entrepreneur and learning from that process has been one of the greatest opportunities of my life.”
For more information, visit Market Pops’ website at mktpops.com, its Instagram page at @market.pops or its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mktpops.