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MS. GIVHAN: And it feels like the brand still has a very close connection to those roots, and it sort of makes me think of the idea of a lot of European food companies where there’s a real emphasis on sort of the starting point of a particular product, the ground in which certain ingredients are grown. Does being a Midwestern-born brand figure into just the way that you think about the product and the way perhaps that people relate to it?
MS. BRITTON BAUER: It is so much. Being part of the Midwest or being from the Midwest–and I’m actually from Peoria, Illinois, so deeper Midwest–is a part of just who we are to our core. I probably couldn’t even identify all of the ways in which that Midwestern sensibility infuses literally everything we do. I mean building a company as a community, starting in a farmer’s market, being about hard work, putting your name on it, which is what I say. That’s one of our values at Jeni’s, like when you do something, put your name on it. Do it right.
Quality. I mean, I grew up with artists in the Midwest. There is very much a sense of, in the Midwest, this, like, creative–absolute creative freedom. We’re not burdened by the sort of cultures that are so heavy, I’ve learned, in other areas, too. So much from the Midwest is really a part of who we are, and then, of course, service. Service is a part of everything we do also in such a Midwestern–and other places too but definitely Midwestern thing.
MS. GIVHAN: You mentioned your background in the art world a couple of times, and I’m curious. How has that informed you as a business person?
MS. BRITTON BAUER: Well, it’s interesting. I still like to come from that perspective of art, but I had to learn early on. I started my first ice cream business in a farmer’s market in 1996. I walked out of art class, and I had a lot to learn. And one of the things that I had to learn is that artists can kind of sort of see the world from their viewpoint and create from that perspective, but building a company is really a shared creation and a shared-after creation with your team, your customers, your community, and all the stakeholders.