UI senior succeeds in ice cream and sweet treat business

Through childhood influences and a passion for sweet foods, Ramya Kolusu has turned a small idea into a big reality by creating Sugar Fiend Sweets, homemade ice cream and sweet treat business.

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UI senior succeeds in ice cream and sweet treat business

Sugar Fiend Sweets owner Ramya Kolusu poses for a portrait with a pint of her Black & Gold ice cream in the kitchen of the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Kolusu is in her final semester at the University of Iowa and was inspired to start her own ice cream business by a now-closed ice cream shop in her hometown, Clinton, Iowa. She began making her own ice cream approximately three years ago after learning from videos online.

Sugar Fiend Sweets owner Ramya Kolusu poses for a portrait with a pint of her Black & Gold ice cream in the kitchen of the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Kolusu is in her final semester at the University of Iowa and was inspired to start her own ice cream business by a now-closed ice cream shop in her hometown, Clinton, Iowa. She began making her own ice cream approximately three years ago after learning from videos online.

Emily Wangen

Sugar Fiend Sweets owner Ramya Kolusu poses for a portrait with a pint of her Black & Gold ice cream in the kitchen of the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Kolusu is in her final semester at the University of Iowa and was inspired to start her own ice cream business by a now-closed ice cream shop in her hometown, Clinton, Iowa. She began making her own ice cream approximately three years ago after learning from videos online.

Emily Wangen

Emily Wangen

Sugar Fiend Sweets owner Ramya Kolusu poses for a portrait with a pint of her Black & Gold ice cream in the kitchen of the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Kolusu is in her final semester at the University of Iowa and was inspired to start her own ice cream business by a now-closed ice cream shop in her hometown, Clinton, Iowa. She began making her own ice cream approximately three years ago after learning from videos online.

Thomas Duong, News Reporter

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On the first floor of the Bedell Entrepreneurial Learning Laboratory, a small kitchen is home to a few appliances, a pile of supplies cluttered in the corner of the room, and an inventory of delicately crafted homemade ice cream. 

Every Sunday, University of Iowa senior Ramya Kolusu sells her ice cream at the laboratory for her business, Sugar Fiend Sweets. Kolusu said that creating an ice cream business is her dream, and it started in the heart of Iowa City.

In early 2018, Kolusu began to pursue this ambitious dream. With a sweet tooth and a passion for cooking and baking, she started experimenting with a new technique to make ice cream. 

“I came across this particular method of making ice cream over three years ago now,” Kolusu said. “It wasn’t as complicated as other recipes are and didn’t require an expensive, elaborate ice cream machine the way other recipes did.”

Another difference between her ice-cream and conventional ice cream, Kolusu said, is that hers is “a lot richer, creamier and silkier.” In addition, her ice cream is very versatile and can make any ice cream flavor someone can imagine, Kolusu said. 

Emily Wangen
A variety of flavors of Sugar Fiend Sweets ice cream sit in in the kitchen of the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Owner Ramya Kolusu is in her final semester at the University of Iowa and was inspired to start her own ice cream business by a now-closed ice cream shop in her hometown, Clinton, Iowa. She began making her own ice cream approximately three years ago after learning from videos online.

With the help of the Founder’s Club, a university organization committed to helping students build a startup, Kolusu opened her business Sugar Fiend Sweets. Through the club and different entrepreneurial classes, she began working with her mentor and UI lecturer Keith Chiavetta. 

“I’ve been working with him on this for well over a year now. He knows my business almost as well as I do, so I take what he has to say to heart,” Kolusu said. 

An entrepreneur himself, Chiavetta shares Kolusu’s optimistic view of her business.

RELATED: Student-run startup gives students business resources

“I think she’s an exceptional young woman and a great entrepreneur with an outstanding product,” Chiavetta said. “And I know that she’s going to continue to be successful.”

However, Kolusu’s passion for sweet treats originated long before her business. In her hometown, she frequently regularly visited a quaint ice cream shop while growing up.

“Unfortunately, [the ice cream shop] isn’t there anymore,” Kolusu said. “But that played a huge role into the way I do things here.”

In order to keep up with demand, Kolusu announces a new flavor for her customers every Wednesday via Facebook and Instagram. She said this strategy allows people to place orders and also receive notification of events she caters. 

Every Friday, she also makes 18 pints of ice cream which people can pick up on Sundays at the Bedell Entrepreneurial Learning Laboratory.

RELATED: UI students start business to study abroad

“It’s ice cream Sundays,” Kolusu laughed. “They can go home and enjoy their ice cream and patiently wait the next week when the whole cycle continues again.”

Now, Kolusu is expanding to baked goods such as cookies in order to compensate for seasonal changes. As her business grows in Iowa City, she is grateful for the opportunities the downtown district has given her. 

“Take advantage of your resources. You have so many things at your disposal, so just take advantage of them, and just go for it,” Kolusu said. “Don’t be afraid of what other people think. I see a lot of people who drop their passions once they leave college. You don’t have to do that — you can definitely still pursue them.” 

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