Mamas in Small Biz Series : Erika Menard – Owner of Sweetie’s Ice Cream & Christmas Trees

Do you ever come across a booming shop online run by a SAHM or see a mama running her own business while juggling a family & wonder how she does it all? I know I do!

This season, I am highlighting some of my favorite small businesses run by moms right here in Maine! My wish is that through these interviews, you feel inspired by these incredible mamas to take the next step in following your own dreams or consider supporting these mamas as they work hard to continue pursuing theirs. 

Though my family keeps our gift giving small, we try to be incredibly intentional about how & where we spend our dollars. I know for a fact that we can make an impact in our own community by supporting small businesses & those run by other mums have a special place in my heart. ♥

Get ready to meet our next “Small Biz Mama”, Erika Menard – Owner of Sweetie’s Ice Cream & Christmas Trees. Her transparency & authenticity when it comes to her family, business & the personal struggles they have overcome to achieve success, are nothing short of amazing! I might also be a bit excited about the idea of picking out our first REAL Christmas Tree this year… Yes, we’ve got a faux one, don’t judge 😉

Mamas in Small Biz Series: Sweetie's & Christmas Trees. #ShopSmall #ChristmasTrees

{All photos provided by & owned by Erika Menard.}


Interview with Erika Menard – Owner of Sweetie’s Ice Cream & Christmas Trees:

1. What is your business & what product or service do you specialize in? Sweetie’s Ice Cream is a family owned and operated ice cream shop in the Sebago Lakes region of Maine – we specialize in making people smile! In the winter, we supplement our income by selling Christmas trees, which is cool because then we get to see all of our ice cream friends in the off-season!

2. How & when did you start your business? This is deeply personal for us… Not just business as usual.  For a decade, my husband dedicated himself to a demanding but lucrative wine sales career. In 2012, our second child was 6 months old, I was a stay-at-home mom, our financial needs were being met and life seemed perfect. However, we had been fighting the warning signs associated with alcohol for years…  I had finally found the courage within me to conquer that battle head-on and successfully quit drinking.  After 60 days of sobriety, my husband joined me in the fight and we both made the commitment to give up alcohol for the good of our family.  This meant that my husband had to leave his career and find another way to support our family.  This is when the idea of Sweetie’s first came alive.  My husband had worked for so long that the thought of working in another sales field was daunting for him, he yearned to be closer to his family and he also wanted to work for himself.  I offered to go back to work and encouraged him to dream big. Then we found out baby number 3 was on the way…  With an enormous amount of faith, trust and perseverance, we used every single resource imaginable, drew up plans, met with town officials, filed permits & applications and started converting our 1850’s carriage house into an ice cream shop.  All of the pieces fit together perfectly and we are now almost 4 years into our plan of sustainability and sobriety.

3. What is your WHY? Not just the practical reason for starting your own business but what drives you to keep going? Because of how we got started, the personal attachment we have to our business is enormous and we know this is evident to people who know us and our story.  Sweetie’s was the guiding light that helped us get from our darkest hour to a place of joy, prosperity and strength.  We put our hearts and souls into this and it is so deeply a part of us.  It keeps us going because it keeps us grounded.

4. Tell us a little bit about your family dynamic? My husband & I have three children, now ages 12, 4 and 3.  Our family has experienced a lot in the last 4 years and we are very close and supportive of each other because of this.  We try to be good role models and we both agree that our children come first, always.

5. How do you balance work & family life? I work at a public health job part time, while dad is home and then we switch off between having the kids or running the shop on nights and weekends.  For 6 months of the year that we are open, we are ALWAYS working which can be a drain but the trade off is that one of us is always with our kids.

6. What is the most rewarding part about owning your own business? Our employees are like family and our customers become close friends.  We have built so many meaningful bonds from owning this business.  I cannot express the deep level of support we get from our community and from people who visit us often. These people are the fabric woven into our lives and we are truly better people because of it!

7. What is the most challenging part of owning your own business? For us, since our business is at home, it is the feeling of always working.  We do work a lot but sometimes just going home and decompressing after a long day at work is not an option!  Another challenge for us is that it takes so much for us to keep this business running successfully that we often don’t have enough energy, time or resources to dedicate to growth and new ideas.

8. What is one way you give back or support fellow moms or small business owners? We barter with as many people as we can, as often as we can.  It is rewarding on so many levels!

9. How do we as consumers impact your family when we support your small business?  By supporting our business, you are directly supporting our family. We truly care about every single person who has ever come up to our window and the support and positive energy is reciprocated – we try to give back to everyone who visits.

10. What has been the best compliment, review or piece of feedback received from a client or customer? {Yes, we want you to toot your own horn!} It is always those people who grew up here, who remember this house, who are so exalted to see how it has been transformed and how perfectly it fits in our village.  This is always the best compliment because we couldn’t agree more!

How inspiring is Erika’s story? I somehow knew she’d be pulling at my heart strings! I hope this interview & Erika’s words speak to those facing a difficult challenge head on, taking a risk to start their own business or in the midst of chaos as you juggle a full time job, being a mother & fueling those side hustles… We are built for success!

Mamas in Small Biz Series : Sweetie's Christmas Trees Maine. #ShopSmall #Christmas.

∴ If you’re a Western Maine local or traveling through the Lakes Region or Conway, NH area, I highly recommend stopping by Sweetie’s on Main St. in Steep Falls for your freshly harvested Christmas Tree this season. Who else is itching to get their Christmas décor up the day after Thanksgiving? We’ve waited long enough! Oh and, don’t forget to come back in the Spring when they open again with Ice Cream! ∴


→ If you missed our other “Mamas in Small Biz”, you can read previous posts in the series HERE!
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I did not receive any form of compensation for this post. I support other moms out of the kindness of my heart in hopes that you will do the same!

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