How a lay-off helped Jen Helm take action on her "fantasy" business venture.

Jen Helm made a career of managing complicated creative projects. Then, she got unexpectedly laid off. This time gave her the space to think about making her fantasy business (a natural popsicle company) a reality. 

Jen at a night market in 2015 (c) St Pops 2016

Jen at a night market in 2015 (c) St Pops 2016

What inspired you to create St Pops?

My son loved popsicles in the summertime, but I hated buying them. The ingredients were basically water, high fructose corn syrup, artificial color and artificial flavors. Being a health conscious mom this was against all my sensibilities.  I would buy the “healthy” ones at Whole Foods, but these were frozen mashed fruit and he didn’t like the texture (he was a bit of a finicky eater). I kept thinking I couldn’t be the only one looking for something with real ingredients, yet not a frozen smoothie. 

The more I thought about this the more I realized how this could be a nice simple business that could supplement our family income. The kids were getting older and were going to need jobs soon - so I thought why not create a business where they could work too? That’s when I started to fantasize about the business plan. One summer we went to NYC and were walking down the High Line and low and behold - there was People Pops! Like so many things in my life, someone beat me to it. As it turns out, People Pops just started a trend and now there are ice pops businesses in almost all major cities. It was so helpful to see their business model and others that I could use to educate myself.

Then the fateful day came when I got laid off from my job that I had been doing for the last 17 years. I had never been laid off before and it hit me pretty hard. I found that I really needed to take some time off and examine my life’s path. I had spent years going after my career - chasing the “carrot” - climbing the ladder.  I was tired and not very happy. I decided to slow down and let life come to me for a while. That’s when I decided to make my popsicle fantasy real. 

How do you manage your energy for St Pops and your role as an agency Executive Producer? 

I’m lucky in that I have always been a planner. I have a great sense of how much time things take to get done. I also have a pretty good ability to prioritize and delegate. Between these things - planning, prioritizing and most importantly, delegating - I can get a ton of stuff done.  Oh, and LOTS of check lists.

As an entrepreneur, what things have you had to teach yourself along the way?

The biggest lesson is to not let stress permeate my mood and turn me into a giant b*#ch. That won’t do anyone any good - especially me. I have taken up a couple practices to help with this: 1) throughout the day I find things to be grateful for and remind myself how good life is - and - 2) twice a day I meditate for 10 to 15 minutes to clear my head. This works wonders.

What advice would you give other women who are thinking about making a passion “real”?

Plan it out by talking to anyone you can. It is amazing how many people want to share their knowledge - especially other women. If you embrace your passion with intelligence and understanding you will find out if it’s a feasible venture soon enough.

Learn more about St Pops here (yum).