Teens sweeten Peoria one cone at a time

PEORIA, Ill. — A trailer and a generator don’t seem like typical graduation presents, but for two Brimfield teens, they were the perfect gifts.

When Kami Stahl, 18, and Mikaela Endress, 19, wanted to open their own small business, many doubted them.

“In the beginning, everyone laughed at us, to be honest,” said Endress. “I thought they were right.”

Still, they persevered. In early May, they attended their first event as the owners of Kamaela’s Kreamery, surrounded by the friends and family that supported them.

“We’ve been best friends our whole life,” said Endress. “Our dads grew up together. Our sisters are best friends and our older brothers are good friends. And Kami always jokes that I was the first person to visit her in the hospital. Which, of course, isn’t true.”

“We used to get on our bikes or even walk the mile into Brimfield to get to the ice cream store and always paid for it in quarters,” said Stahl. “Ice cream seemed like such a fit for us when it came to a business.”

When the idea first came to them, they knew that they wanted to do a mobile business based out of a trailer or truck.

“We wanted to own a business. We needed to be deciding what to do with our lives,” said Stahl. “Mobile businesses are such a new and popular thing. No set hours, no boss.”

The first thing that they needed was a trailer to run the business out of, which proved to be easier than they first imagined. One dinner party answered their prayers.

The trailer, now named the Little Dipper, belonged to friends that their parents met at church.

“The parents brought it up casually at dinner, and they loved the idea,” said Stahl. “They loved the idea of opening an ice cream store and it all just worked out.”

Looking back on the seemingly difficult hurdles they had to jump, the girls laughed.

“The things we stressed about the most turned out to be the easiest fixes,” said Endress.

Not everything was smooth sailing when they got started, and that’s still true today. Running a small business takes an excessive amount of attention to detail, which is what surprised the girls the most.

“We’ve found out why there aren’t that many mobile businesses around,” said Stahl. “Who would have thought it would be so difficult to find sliding screen windows?”

“Then you have to reach out to businesses to park at, make sure you are allowed to park where you are, and making sure you’re certified in every county that you might go to,” said Endress. “There were a lot of hoops to jump through. There’s always going to be a struggle but you just have to hope that everyone gives you grace.”

Kamaela’s Kreamery has taken lots of attention and dedication, but it’s no distraction from a typical 18-year-old’s life. Endress is a sophomore in college, working to get a degree in communications. Stahl is working on her family’s farm, as well as their Christmas tree farm in the winter.

Endress and Stahl stressed that the support from their families went deeper than simply sparing their daughters’ help around the farm or the house. Endress has three sisters, three brothers and one sister-in-law while Stahl has seven sisters, one brother and one sister-in-law.

“Without our families and their love, we wouldn’t be here,” said Endress.

The girls aren’t at a standstill with Kamaela’s Kreamery. They’re looking to make improvements in all areas of their business.

Dog treats will be coming to the trailer by 2019 or 2020, pending recipe perfection. Ice cream lovers can still bring their pups to get a sprinkled vanilla cup until then.

“Our ice cream is super-premium, which, I know, sounds so extra,” said Endress. “We’re hoping to eventually make it ourselves someday, but it’s hard to beat our supplier!”

The trailer only hosts eight flavors at once, but they have a list of 45 to 50 flavors that they work from. At private events, the host can choose which flavors to feature. They have at least one dairy-free and gluten-free option in their trailer at any given pop-up, which has gained them quite a religious following from the dietarily-restricted dessert lovers. Gluten-free cones are also set to make an appearance soon.

The girls enjoy making their business a community experience. A local studio, Elsie Jo Photography, did a vendor spotlight shoot for them. East to West Studio designed their logo.

“That’s what’s so fun about having your own business,” said Stahl. “You can utilize your friends’ businesses, too. We can all help each other be successful.”

“We just felt like since God opened the door, He had his hand on the business. Ever since then, things kept falling into place,” said Endress. “It’s been the best adventure.”