Chill Pop Lounge / Interview – Orlando
Orlando has a lot of Ice Cream and frozen yogurt shops around, but sometimes you are looking for a dessert or a snack that is a little bit different! Fruit and Sun are a pretty great combination in Florida, and it doesn’t get much better than gourmet & handcrafted desserts on a stick. Some locations are great to just take the family and hang out while enjoying a snack. Either hanging out in the lounge, out on the benches out front, or walking around the downtown area of Avalon Park life is better with goodness on a stick! Ice cream shops and frozen yogurt shops have started to offer healthier or all-natural options to their customers in a category that has the potential to reach $5.1 billion over the next five years. Chill Pop Lounge has been doing that since day one! Don’t forget to ask them about the “Adult” options! Enjoy the cute little downtown area of Avalon park with a handcrafted dessert pop today! It won't take long to see Te smile and for life to move a little slower when you hear the island music while you enjoy something delicious.
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Who inspires you?
Te: My grandmother Willie Mae Hall. She was the greatest person I have ever known. She was always helping others, a god-fearing woman. I always thought that she was ahead of her time. She helped me through good and bad times. She owned a restaurant, ran for city commissioner, and was part of the Dade City chamber of commerce all-around 65 years ago. Willie Mae has been indoctrinated with an honorary life-long membership to the Board at the Chamber. She was bold and proud. I grew to appreciate her more as I became an adult and got older. She was not afraid to go against the grain. I admired her for what she did and how she did it.
What was that moment from corporate to business owner? What was that push that took you from idea to action?
Te: A colleague was the one who inspired me. I was working in an HR department at the time and we went on a work trip. She showed me a bakery that she wanted to buy and she was telling me about her dreams and plans. That idea of being an entrepreneur was in my head at that point. It was so far from being an HR manager but it was always on my mind after that. Later during my career, I went on another work trip where another colleague took me to a cool popsicle shop and the owner offered to help me. I would consider him to be a very close friend and mentor. He took his personal time to train my brother and me at his shop in Alabama. We went and visited him multiple times, he took us under his wing and offered to help as long as we weren’t going to open our shop near him.
Shirley is your Pop-Ologist where do the flavor ideas come from? How did that relationship start?
Te: We have been friends for over 30 years. Our ex-husbands were in the military and we worked in the same office together, so we had a lot in common. From that point on we kept our friendship going even after we separated, she was one who helped to take my idea from idea to reality. On November 12, 2013, it all started! We planned everything from that day on. We come out with flavors together once per quarter. We do my books as she is my CPA, best friend, and Flavor-Oligist!
Tell me about the Adult pops and how those started? What’s your favorite?
Te: My mentor did not do anything with Alcohol. My friend and I just thought that we should have a version for adults. We wanted to be different and we thought it would make us unique. That’s where we came up with the Lounge part of our name. We liked the idea of having some “special options” for us.
What flavors have you done that just didn’t work or that surprised you?
Te: Watermelon. We just can’t get the right flavor. We can’t get that flavor to work. It doesn’t come out right every time we try. We don’t know why; we only want to use natural flavors so we may have to mix it with another flavor like Kiwi. It may end up just being a combination type of flavor.
Who would you most want to meet if you had the chance to pick anyone?
Te: Michelle Obama, she seems like a very real person. I like her story, she was her own person, she gave and continues to give back and I admire her. What she went through and the attacks that she took, she kept going with her vision. She seems honest and real; I think some time with her would be amazing.
What is your favorite Pizza Restaurant?
Te: Our Friday nights we spent in Lake Nona, near park pizza. We did the art after dark night events with our tent and freezer that is held in front of Park Pizza. I’m in love with crumble Italian sausage that they have. So Park Pizza is our number one! Number two would be Mama Romano’s it’s Landstar off 417, can I have two?
What makes you smile or giggle?
Te: Enjoying life and finding the good or beauty in things, I laugh and smile a lot. Life brings me blessings and my friends bring me joy. I enjoy the little things. I am a giggler, I have a hard time going negative. I grew up poor, we had hard times. A smile every day is something I am very proud of. Even through bad times, I was fortunate to have good people in my life and to stay positive. Everyone always tells me that I have a positivity gene. I have always had it!
Are you reading any books? What are you reading right now? Would you recommend any books to others?
Te: I am doing an audible book, by Trevor Noah. His book “Born a Crime.” Before that, I read a book about Billy Crystal. It was a very interesting read.
Have you thought of creating a challenge or signature crazy item?
Te: We have been working on a Hot Pepper flavor. We might do something with that where you see if you can handle the heat or eat in a certain time frame. Hot pepper might not be popular, but it could be fun!
What is the secret splurge or indulgence that you do for yourself?
Te: I am a person who will pack my car and go to the beach alone. I go to be grateful and enjoy the sounds, smells, and the view. I try to do that once per month. I go to Cocoa Beach and just find me some happy time. My other is to get together with friends and pretend that we are still in college. Being around good people energizes me. Our last trip we got a limo and went to City Walk at Universal Studios. It’s great to catch up and splurge on something that you wouldn’t normally do, last time we thought why not get a Limo for a girls night.
What would you like people to know about you or your business that we did not get a chance to talk
Te: We are a brother and sister team that loves people and that we have been learning as we go. Being a family team, we know that we can rely on each other and be honest with each other. I love being in business with him.
Best quote from our talk:
“We love bringing smiles to people’s faces through their tummies.” This makes people happy and we get pleasure from that.
Chill’s Tag Line: “Kick Back and Chill” with a cold one! ð
Te’s Bio: “Popstar”
LaThesia (Te) opened the Chill Pop Lounge food truck as a first step in bringing her vision of offering decadent and healthy ice pops to Central Florida. She has successfully managed and worked in the Chill Pop food truck gaining valuable experience and a loyal following. She has worked in the field of Human Resource Management for many and became a Certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) in 1992. Te has worked for 2 fortune 50 Companies but wanted to branch out on an entrepreneurial journey that would make the very young and young and heart smile……
Shirely’s Bio: “Popoligist”
Shirley's strength on the Chill Pop Lounge team comes from her business background. Shirley is a Certified Public Accountant. She is Certified in Financial Forensics and holds a Certified Fraud Examiner credential. She also holds an SHRM-SCP credential in human resources. Shirley inherited her passion and drive to succeed from her mid-class working mother and father. Her dad was career Army and her mother was a seamstress. Both taught Shirley to always strive to do her best, and then to reach a little higher. Shirley jumped at the chance to partner with Te once she heard about the vision of Chill Pop.
Reggie’s Bio: “Chill Sergeant”
Reginald (Reggie) attended Hillsborough Community College and upon graduation, he had a strong desire to serve his Country and decided to join the U.S. Army in February 1989. He specialized in Power Generation Equipment. Reginald served in Desert Shield/Storm, two tours in Iraq (Combat Service Support), two tours in Afghanistan (Special Operations Command), and one tour in Korea (Combat Aviation Support).
Once Reggie heard that his sister was going to start Chill Pop he decided to join her on her entrepreneur journey. He told her that no one is ever made at you when serving an amazing Chill Pop or Ice Cream.