The Gen Z Entrepreneurial Spirit

In an age where many young adults fantasize about their first set of wheels or the allure of tattoos, Ryleigh Ramey of Festus has always been fueled by a different passion. Her aspiration? Carving out her entrepreneurial path. Thus emerged Tanglefoot Creamery, the only destination in Festus for the delight of rolled ice cream.

Although the official documents bore her grandparents’ names, Ryleigh, from the outset, has been the dynamic force behind the venture. With her 18th birthday in August, she not only transitions into adulthood but also steps into the shoes of a co-owner, exemplifying the Gen Z fervor to control one’s destiny.

Ryleigh confesses, “The thrill of entrepreneurship flows in my veins. Working under someone? That’s just not me.”

This spirit resonates with a broader trend. Gayle Jagel, the helm of The Young Entrepreneurs Academy, notes a palpable surge in young entrepreneurial minds, especially post the pandemic. Jagel discerns, “In the wake of COVID-19, young souls are in pursuit of both self-confidence and a reign over their futures.”

Ryleigh’s vision might be modern, but her brand is deeply rooted in history. Tanglefoot Creamery is a nod to Festus’ initial nomenclature. Launched by her grandparents, Michael and Tammy Cords, this January, the Creamery is more than just your traditional ice cream shop. Beyond the conventional hard ice cream and shakes, it offers patrons a sensory journey with its rolled ice cream, ice cream nachos, and uniquely crafted sandwiches.

The scene-stealer, though, is their rolled ice cream. For the uninitiated, it’s an art – a creamy blend unfurled on a chilled metal surface, then deftly rolled to perfection, ready to be savored. As Ryleigh beams, “The entire process, unfolding right before your eyes, is a spectacle, especially for the younger lot.”

Entrepreneurial roots run deep in Ryleigh’s family. Michael Cords, her grandfather and a seasoned investor in real estate, has consistently been her north star, guiding her towards financial autonomy. It was his suggestion, backed by his belief in her, to venture into the niche of rolled ice cream. With a vacant unit in his 2016 acquired strip mall, the stage was set. Ryleigh recalls, “His words were a beacon, ‘If you’re up for it, let’s dive in.’ He was my pillar, stoking my entrepreneurial fire.”

Keith Hall, from the National Association for the Self-Employed, sees the family-backed business model as not uncommon. The key? Open communication. He observes that while avoiding bureaucratic loan processes has its merits, family ventures are not without their challenges, particularly when facing business downturns. This sentiment is echoed by Peter Boumgarden from Washington University’s Olin Business School. He believes that interweaving family and business ownership can intensify emotions on both fronts.

For Ryleigh, setting up Tanglefoot was a tapestry of challenges and learning. From mastering the nuances of payroll to sourcing the perfect equipment for rolled ice cream, every step was a lesson. But being homeschooled offered her the flexibility to invest her energies fully into her dream. She sees the Creamery not just as a business but also as a hands-on, real-world educational experience.

Summer brought with it an influx of customers at Tanglefoot. Leveraging platforms like TikTok and Instagram for quirky promotional videos, Ryleigh has given the Creamery its distinct voice. With winter approaching, she envisions a menu revamp – introducing coffee, hot chocolate, and in-house baked delights. Collaborations with local entities like the YMCA and H&K’s Loaded Sugar Shack are also on the cards.

For Ryleigh, the Creamery is more than a business. It’s an emblem of her grit, determination, and the ceaseless support of her family. As she often shares, “Owning a business might seem daunting to many, but it’s possible. It’s all about taking that first bold step.”

The tale of Tanglefoot Creamery is more than just an entrepreneurial journey; it’s a testament to the audacity of Gen Z and the magic that transpires when passion meets perseverance.

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