Five years of the 707 Hub: Liv a Little vegan ice cream

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Marquette University’s 707 hub, Marquette Today looks back at past winners of the Brewed Ideas Challenge.

Name: Olivia Menzia, Comm ’18

Major: Advertising at Marquette and Graphic Design (minor) at Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design

Business: Liv a Little Vegan Ice Cream

What made you choose Marquette?

I wanted to be in a city, and Milwaukee not only felt like a great startup city, but also had a lot of personality. For me it’s the perfect size and a little less overwhelming than somewhere like Chicago or New York.

Also, I was going back and forth about whether I wanted to go to art school or university like Marquette. Marquette’s program that allows you to minor at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) was a way for me to get the best of both worlds!

What are your interests outside of class and how did you discover them?

I love to run and I know the city of Milwaukee like the back of my hand thanks to her.

My other passions are cycling, sailing and exploring. It’s safe to say that I love being outdoors! I paint just about anything that comes to hand. The more color the better, always! A lot of things I do for fun, I’ve done all my life.

What is the thing that Marquette has taught you since your arrival here?

Be authentic.

Where do you see yourself after graduation?

My resume is currently floating around in different cities across the United States. I apply to a wide variety of companies, advertising agencies, in-house design agencies, small businesses, etc.

I am open to any new experience and hope to get some answers soon. A small part of me is freaking out about not knowing where I will be in a month or so, but the other part of me is so excited. It would be great to be able to stay in Milwaukee for a while, but wherever I end up, I plan to expand my ice cream business.

Tell us about your ice cream business.

I present my business that will allow me to meet my demand and sell on a more efficient scale. This will allow me to purchase a larger ice cream machine, rent a food kitchen, buy in bulk (which will increase profit per sale), and refund any food licenses/sales permits.

What ingredients are used?

The base of my ice cream is coconut milk, sugar, vanilla extract, cornstarch and salt. There are of course additional ingredients for each flavor!

How did you come up with the idea? What inspired you?

I’m not kidding, I have ice cream pretty much every day. It’s one of the main reasons I run (lol).

My best friend back home is lactose intolerant, so when I started making ice cream, I wanted to create ice cream that she could have too! Then I figure if I take the time to make it dairy-free, I might as well make it vegan.

I also had to find a way to differentiate my ice cream from places I LOVE and admire like Purple Door, Salt & Straw & Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. By being a vegan ice cream shop, I created a whole different product and market for Milwaukee & Marquette.

Is there a meaning behind the name?

My motto is “Liv a Little”, since my friends call me Liv. I always wanted to create a kind of small shop. Whether it’s a coffee pottery shop or… ice cream!! Liv a Little is written in one of my college journals. I saved the name for this exact moment.

What makes your idea unique?

Like most vegan products, existing vegan ice cream brands like Halo Top and Wink focus on the low calorie and low sugar aspect of their product. What sets Liv a Little apart is our focus on flavor, experience and the homemade look.

How do you think this will benefit the Marquette community and/or the Milwaukee community?

This is something that has yet to be done in Milwaukee. The vegan and dairy-free population is only growing, so this is a perfect opportunity to fill an unmet demand/need. What I’ve realized is that a lot of my clients don’t even have any dietary restrictions…they’re just curious about eating and supporting what Liv a Little stands for. Who doesn’t love ice cream? It brings people together.

Do you have long term goals for your business?

The short-term goal is to partner and serve my ice cream at local Milwaukee restaurants that cater to a food-restricted audience and appeal to foodies who are always willing to try something new. I would also love to be part of some community farmers markets.

After reaching this milestone, I’m thinking of buying some sort of ice cream truck to sell at festivals and crowded places. A long-term goal is to open a small shop. Doing so would be an absolute dream; I think it would be so much fun to have a family business on the road.

Any additional thoughts?

Do something the child version of yourself would be proud of. I gave up everything to do what I love. I just want to thank everyone – friends, family, the Marquette community, Milwaukee for their support.

About Thomas B. Countryman

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