24 Hours in the Life of Jeni's Ice Cream's Jeni Britton Bauer
Yes, there are taste tests.
Jen Britton Bauer, the founder and chief creative officer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, has many jobs. On a given day, she wrangles two children—and a husband!—and acts as her company’s flavor developer, designer, marketer, copyeditor and even photographer for the 32 brick-and-mortar stores, online shop and nationwide store distributions.
In other words, Britton Bauer is busy. But she took the time to give us a glimpse into her daily routine, recording one day from start to finish. Here’s what 24 hours in the ice cream maven's life really looks like.
6:30 a.m.: Charly [my husband] brings me coffee in bed. I take a sip, it soaks in after 30 seconds, and I get up. I rouse the kids—one or both is usually by my side already—by making a lot of noise and turning on all the lights, singing, and doing the chicken dance. I play the news with Echo. Every morning I’m home, it’s this exact routine.
7:08 a.m.: Dressed, I head downstairs and grab another cup of coffee, filling up my giant Facebook mug. Did I mention that it’s giant?
7:20 a.m.: I am out of the house to take Greta, my daughter, to school. (I take Dashiell every other day.) It’s a 30-minute drive, and we listen to music all the way there. Today it’s Les Misérables. But Janis Joplin and Fleetwood Mac are our regular go-tos.
8:21 a.m.: I pull into the garage at work.
8:30 a.m.: I’m at my desk and ready to go. Today, it’s working on a marketing plan. A normal company would have a marketing wing to handle this. We don’t, for better or worse. Everything comes from our creative team: design, writing, photography, flavor development. It’s all one and the same.
We are challenged by and excited for our [new] grocery channel, and how we can make ice creams to be devoured at home. Ice cream is such a great wingman to other desserts, and it carries flavor to your nose. So flavors like vanilla are still important and relevant.
9 a.m.: Danielle, our creative director, gets here, and we start working together on how we can get people to taste our ice creams in Florida. Shouldn’t be hard, right? Well, try again. It’s nearly impossible to get people to taste in grocery stores. When was the last time you did that? It’s an uncomfortable proposition on both sides, so we are trying to break through that.
9:30 a.m.: Ryan, our communications lead, joins us. The idea that it’s me and our creative director and our communications guy working together doing everything—I love that. We talk about how we have to use what I call “Jedi tricks.” The idea that if we make ice creams we really love, they will connect with people. There’s something really Jedi in that because it’s so simple and real. And about authentic emotion.
9:58 a.m.: I’m back out the door and headed to our Clintonville scoop shop with part of my creative team.
10:16 a.m.: We arrive at the Clintonville shop. We’re here today to shoot part of our first-ever orientation video. Our art director is running the camera. Our photographer is running B-roll. Our copywriter and my assistant are helping to produce. It’s all an in-house job, and is super important as we continue to grow.
I’ll make it to every single scoop shop this year—but in between that, I want to talk to our ambassadors, the folks on the front line interacting with customers every single day. We’re trying to create this community that’s real, and this video, we hope, will be a part of that.
10:19 a.m.: I put on mascara and lip gloss to get ready to film.
10:25 a.m.: Got a black coffee from the coffee run Stevie, my assistant, thankfully made!
10:29 a.m.: Technical difficulties! The mic keeps dropping out, so while Patrick, our art director troubleshoots, I get some extra time to go over talking points.
10:32 a.m.: Stevie brings me a sparkling water because I can’t move due to the fact I’m in position for the video.
10:34 a.m.: Problem solved—mic just needed a few fresh batteries! Time to roll.
10:35 a.m.: We start filming. We have the outline of a script, but so much of it is freestyling, me trying to communicate that, yes, I am a real person in the trenches just like everyone in our company and that I hope to meet everyone this year. I want to convey our company is a community, and we make, deliver, and serve game-changing ice creams together.
12:30 p.m.: That’s a wrap!
12:36 p.m.: I’m starving. I rarely eat breakfast, and am ready for lunch. Our team heads next door to Northstar Café. I order my usual: Buddha Bowl with tofu and extra veggies, no rice. Plus a side salad. And I’m still nursing my sparking water.
1:09 p.m.: I share half of my side salad with Stevie because I can see she’s still hungry.
1:17 p.m.: A girl from Northstar comes over to tell us that a man bought us each a cookie and left his business card. Is this like the daytime version of getting drinks sent over?
1:35 p.m.: We head back to the office.
1:59 p.m.: We arrive just in time for the office photoshoot with the women’s NCAA trophy! The Final Four is in Columbus this year, and the trophy is on a tour of local businesses. And our staff is dressed for the occasion—I’m talking sweatbands, jerseys, and short-shorts.
2 p.m.: I’m clearly underdressed. Luckily, I am handed a letterman’s jacket and I put on my “Take America Back Again” hat, which I made. And I walk to the room as I put the jacket on.
2:01 p.m.: I get to hold the trophy!
2:16 p.m.: The NCAA folks also ask if they can take video of me dribbling the basketball around the office. I think they’re making it into a gif?
2:19 p.m.: I’m dribbling into the front door of our office, past a huge mural of Stevie Nicks. I, of course, dribble the ball right onto my foot and it goes rolling off. Now I’m blushing.
2:27p.m.: I finally return the basketball and the letterman’s jacket and head to my office.
3 p.m.: I’m on a call with my good friend Kenny Lao, who is also doing consulting work for us. He and I share a brain—but he is far more brilliant. He’s helping us with hospitality workshopping, something we really care about as a company. Kenny is great at ironing it out. And he wrote a great book on how to make dumplings. We mind meld on hospitality.
4 p.m.: I’m off the phone with Kenny, and finally emerge from my office to see even more cookies. What? There’s a plate of samples outside my door from an awesome company in Nashville called HiFi Cookies. We’re considering collabing with them on an ice cream sandwich in our Nashville stores. I fell in love with them through a mutual love of Bowie.
4:07 p.m.: I taste them with our R&D chef, Olivia, to decide what type of cookie and ice cream pairings we might want to do.
4:15 p.m. : Final tasting of Rainbow Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt. We have a mock store in a closet in our home office, complete with a dipping cabinet where people are welcome to help themselves throughout the day. Before a new flavor drops, we usually gather for a final tasting to make sure everything is OK to do. Thankfully, Rainbow BFY was amazing. Gave it the green light to drop in our shops in 2 weeks. Ate another scoop.
4:21 p.m.: I’m officially sugared out.
4:25 p.m.: I have a quick touch base with John Lowe, our CEO, to talk marketing strategy, which I am woefully failing at.
4:43 p.m.: I decide to head home early to continue working on this big presentation.
6:30 p.m.: We eat dinner. Charly cooked this wonderful butter chicken in the pressure cooker, from a recipe he heard on NPR.
6:51 p.m.: We play with the kids for a little, batting a very large, three-foot balloon around that I blew up with my breath! Then we get everyone ready for bed.
8 p.m.: We get into bed and read for an hour. I read with the kids every single night. Greta is reading this wonderful book called, Forge. I picked up Get to Why.
9 p.m.: The kids are asleep in my bed. I get up and go back to work for an hour.
10 p.m.: I’m in bed. After 10 p.m., I’m toast.
P.S. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is celebrating Ice Cream For Breakfast Day on Feb. 3. Buy ice cream at one of its scoop shops—from 9 a.m. to noon—and 50 percent of all the sales will be donated to She Should Run, a non-profit that helps women run for elected office.