The Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist, but don’t tell that to Fairyella Ice Pop owner Kimberli Haris. The pixie is very much alive in her life — and in her Benicia-based company.
Haris has very fond memories of her mother introducing her to the idea of Fairyella, a friend who would “visit” her every time she lost a tooth. This warm memory inspired the name of her growing frozen treat business.
Now it seems that Fairyella has delivered much more than some pocket change under her pillow. The business has grown exponentially since its original launch in 2014 and has a foothold in the competitive world of up-market grocery stores.
Pure Pops by Fairyella are now available in 22 Whole Foods Markets in Northern California, after an initial run in only four, Haris said.
Though many products have come and gone in the three years since she first appeared on the foodie giant’s shelves, her treats have survived what are called “resets” — where store-stockers determine what goes and what stays. Instead of dropping her product, more Whole Foods are carrying them, she said.
The Ice Pops are a twist on the idea of the “Otter Pop,” a popsicle in a plastic sleeve. But Haris wanted to make a pop that wasn’t infused with stabilizers, dyes, concentrates or hi-fructose corn syrup, but was instead made from freshly-juiced, organic produce.
The frozen tubes come in four flavors: Lavender Lemonade, Orange Pop (orange, sweet potato, and pear), Green Monster Pop (cucumber, lemon, kale, celery and agave), and Watermelon Pop (watermelon, orange, and lemon, when in season). Haris is about to unveil two new flavors as well: Coconut-Chocolate and Coconut-Blueberry.
All of her fruits and vegetables come from Capay Organic off Highway 16.
The impetus for the pops was truly an “organic” experience that stemmed from her personal life.
Haris first got the idea after her mother Martha fell ill with breast cancer more than 10 years ago. Haris credits her mom’s diet of juicing with fresh fruits and vegetables for prolonging her life for a few years past her doctor’s prediction of only a few months.
At the same time her mom was fighting cancer, Haris had a small child that was teething. She decided to freeze some of the juice concoctions she had created for her mom in order to make a soothing treat for her little one. When she brought the snack to her mom’s group and saw their reactions to her frozen pops, a light bulb went off in her head.
Sadly, Martha passed in 2010, but her daughter took what she saw as the healing properties of fresh food and embarked on her ice pops biz in her mother’s memory.
Fairyella still faces several challenges, despite its ubiquity at Whole Foods. Big retailers like Raley’s or Safeway are an entirely different beast to tame, Haris said, and in order to truly grow she will need more capital.
Not that she’s a stranger to fundraising. Haris is a go-getter who has applied for several business grants. Recently, she was a finalist in a KCBS grant challenge, she said. Haris created a 90-second pitch for Fairyella but in the end was edged out by a competitor.
“Everyone was rooting for me,” she said. “ I lost by a hair.”
KCBS was so impressed with her product though that they began to run 60-second spots about her and her pops. “My sales skyrocketed after that,” she said.
Fairyella recently partnered with Dove Distributors, which Haris says is helping her “grow to 100 more Bay Area grocery and health food stores.”
Without deep pocket backing however, making it in the frozen snack business can be icy. For now, Haris is depending on continuing her partnership with Whole Foods and she has a Go Fund Me “Help us grow” page to raise more cash to expand her business.
She’s most excited about plan to hopefully introduce Fairyella Pops to schools and hospitals. She’s working with a nutritionist to make sure her pops match school district standards for servings of fruit per unit, but once that’s done she hopes to pitch her frozen treats as healthy school snacks in Benicia.
Locals who want to try a Fairyella Pop can find them at the Liquor Warehouse and General Store at East Fifth and Military East in Benicia. She’ll also be selling them at the Benicia Farmer’s Market on warm days.
This article was originally published in the Times Herald.