By: Natalie Thorne
Two years ago, Kelly Huffman and her husband traveled down to Columbus, Miss. for a family vacation. While in the city, the couple stopped by Smackers, a local frozen yogurt shop. The atmosphere was like nothing the Huffmans had ever experienced.
“The yogurt itself was tasty, made with real fruit, peanut butter and cookies,” Huffman said. The toppings – M&M’s, gum drops, gummy worms, kiwi, mangos and countless other options – were displayed in such a way that allowed children to have fun while looking through the different kinds of goodies.
The adults were able to appreciate the aesthetic beauty of dispensers teeming with Lucky Charms and other cereals set up cleverly on the wall. The shop not only provided a space to get yogurt, but gave families the opportunity to go on a mini-vacation in their hometown.
Upon her return to Goshen, Huffman looked into the possibility of starting her own yogurt business that would provide a similar experience. She contacted Smackers, inquiring about the unique yogurt flavors such as caramel pretzel and pomegranate. Before long, Huffman was in contact with Honey Hill Farms, a dairy producer in Arkansas that uses all natural ingredients (real peanut butter, fruit and cookies) to make a product most likely to please the customer. She was sold. If she was going to have a yogurt shop, she told herself that it was going to be done right.
Honey Hill Farms assisted Huffman in setting up a business that could have potential to be successful. She also did her own research by traveling around the country and visiting over 50 yogurt shops. Huffman wanted Honey’s to be perfect. Through the help of the dairy producers, local emerging entrepreneur assistance, and her own determination and hard work, Honey’s came together.
Last year – only her second year in business – Huffman brought in over $600,000 in revenue, with an average cup being sold for around $3.50. Honey’s was one of the most visited businesses downtown. “An open table is a rare thing to find during our prime hours,” Huffman said with a smile.
Perhaps some of Honey’s popularity comes from Huffman’s noted efforts to be more environmentally friendly and charity oriented. “We try to be as green as possible,” Huffman explains. At all costs, Huffman avoids using any styrofoam. Although other environmentally friendly options have been more expensive, Honey’s has been willing to make the financial sacrifice.
The benefits seem to outweigh the costs. For instance, Huffman had a glycol cooling system installed last year that keeps the machines cool. This prevents the yogurt machines’ heat from radiating throughout the store. Lastly, Honey’s had a drinking fountain installed to avoid the use of plastic water bottles. This is all in an effort to reduce the business’s carbon footprint, she said.
To serve the global community, Huffman also donates 10 percent of her profits to a private Christian school and orphanage in Hassan, India. The school uses the money to allow more orphaned children to become a part of its community. Huffman also explains how some of the money she donated was used to help purchase drums for all the children.
In addition, there is a drive to be more health conscious. The frozen yogurt found at Honey’s is entirely fat free, with the exception of the peanut butter and cookie flavors. Huffman also explains that her decision to sell tea at Honey’s was, in part, due to the healthy nature of the beverage. “With obesity and diabetes being two of the top five health related topics in Indiana, I think there needs to be more of an emphasis on healthy alternatives,” says Huffman.