When Pamela Beardslee started Puras Paletas, she assumed demand for her gourmet ice pops would drop with the temperature. The entrepreneur had a plan, though. To get through the winter, she would launch a sister business called Elderberry Kitchen and sell homeopathic immune boosters and cold remedies.
But after her first summer selling popsicles made with organic fruit and chocolate at the West Orange Farmers Market, Beardslee said she was busier than expected — so busy that she didn’t have time to launch her new venture before cold and flu season started.
“We thought the end of our season was going to be August,” Beardslee said. But then Puras Paletas was invited to be part of the American Dream mall grand opening. Mango and hibiscus-berry were both favorites there, along with a chocolate pop sweetened with ripe banana and coconut with fresh shavings of whole fruit in the center. Right after that, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center ordered her all-natural treats with a special selection of toppings for their corporate events.
“We were happily shocked that we went on until November,” Beardslee said.
During the last week of October, Beardslee worked long hours at Garden State Kitchen, a shared space for entrepreneurs, where she blended fresh organic fruit, coconut, chocolate and spices to make the 3,500 frozen desserts she would need for the weekend at the giant mall.
“By Friday night I didn’t know whether to cry because I was so exhausted or to be super-ecstatic because we were making tons of money,” she said.
With new business Elderberry Kitchen, Beardslee makes herbal remedies from elderberries and other natural ingredients that meet the same high standards she set for Puras Paletas.
“Any ingredient or product that I use, I choose with intention,” she said. “I know it’s going to be produced humanely, locally or organically.”
Beardslee also refuses to use additives or artificial ingredients in any of her products and believes in being transparent with her customers.
“If you ask what type of ingredients I use, I will tell you,” she said. “I have no shame in telling you because I have nothing to hide — which is awesome.”
Like the frozen dessert business she started because she saw the need for a healthy alternative, Beardslee said that the idea for Elderberry Kitchen came to her through her holistic community of friends and the values they share.
“A lot of us swear by elderberry syrup,” she said. “We’ve been making it for years as an all-natural homeopathic immune booster. When you have the flu or you’re sick, it cuts down the duration of your illness. It helps that inner immunity get kick-started.”
Since launching her sister company, Beardslee has secured space on the shelves at the General Store Cooperative in Maplewood and the Yoga Ground in West Orange and said she’s negotiating with more local shops. She is also about to start packaging her healthful elixir in a tinted apothecary bottle that she can’t wait to introduce to customers.
“It’s the real deal,” she said. “I’m really excited.”
With recipes still in development, Beardslee is working on an elderberry-hibiscus blend. “It’s very good for you,” she said of the tropical flower.
There is also a soothing herbal ice pop in the works, something Beardslee said she’s been working on for years. She just bought a set of smaller molds so she can produce the medicinal pops at an appropriate size.
As she grows Elderberry Kitchen this winter, Beardslee said she’s scaling up Puras Paletas at the same time. She’s been asked back for a second year at the West Orange Farmers Market and is already confirmed for three more markets in Denville, Wayne and Westfield. And there are more to come.
“Our goal is to do three markets on Saturday, two markets on Sunday and then one every day during the rest of the week,” Beardslee said.
Read more on NJ Flavor:
Got a story you'd like to see on NJ Flavor? Email Jackie Lieberman at firstname.lastname@example.org.