As you walk into the Cool World Ice Cream Shop you are greeted with smiling faces and happy families. The smell of fresh waffle cones and sweet ice cream warms your heart. Beau Shell, also known as the Lil’ Ice Cream Dude, opened the doors to his shop on June 9, 2019.
Over the summer, Shell worked every day to serve his customers, but since the 2019-20 school year began, it has not been that simple.
“My routine has changed from a day-to-day basis. It’s been a really big change especially going into school. I have a lot less time and I have a lot more to do,” said Shell.
Ultimately he knows that his shop will always be there for him.
“When it comes to work, a lot of people say to put school first, and sometimes I can understand that, but sometimes I’ll be in situations where I have to put school aside because in my opinion and in my situation, I feel like school won’t always be there for me as much as my shop will,” Beau said.
Beau maintains a balance of both school and his business along with extracurriculars by concentrating on what he is doing at the time.
“I have to make sure whatever I’m doing, I’m learning as much as I can when I’m there, and then making sure I’m able to perform whether it’s in the business or marching band, or at school,” Beau said. “I struggle with trying to make sure every second is used where it’s supposed it be.”
Beau’s mom, Vickie Shell, admires Beau’s optimism when everything may not be as effortless as it appears.
“Sometimes I’ll wake up at 4:30 in the morning, and he’s doing homework. He’s very modest about it and won’t talk about it, but he works a lot of hours, he keeps his grades up, and he does get tired. But he keeps going, and I’m really proud of him,” Mrs. Shell said.
As Beau’s business grows, he learns how he can best manage his time and activities in a more mature way.
“I redefine free time as maybe not just getting time away from one thing or the other, but just having a calm moment, even in the shop or at school, just some time to lay my head down for a second,” Beau said. “I don’t think I have as much free time compared to other people. I maybe have an hour out of a day.”
As the Lil’ Ice Cream Dude, he has plenty of responsibilities, not just in school, but in the shop as well.
“I have many different roles: sweeping the floors, washing the windows, making sure ice cream is being made, making waffle cones, serving people. Just being anything I can anytime,” Beau said.
Even though owning an ice cream shop comes with the reward of serving the community, there are still many challenging obstacles to overcome.
“Since the crowdfunding campaign in late winter of 2017, I feel like raising capital has been really difficult, because we weren’t really gifted a lot of capital in that situation and the business isn’t making enough money to really get us through all that,” Beau said.
Even through all the obstacles, he thinks constantly about how to continue to develop his shop. Beau hopes to be able to hire steady employees when he has enough financial stability to pay them what they deserve.
“I want to have a staff, but I want to have the right staff. People who I know will be reliable,” Beau said. Much of the current work is done by family friends and volunteers.
“We’re really appreciative of what the people who are working with us are doing, and we’re really getting towards paying them and it’s right there on our fingertips,” Beau said.
Taking nothing for granted, Beau is grateful for the help from the Athens community.
“My community is my biggest supporter. It really represents a greater Athens than what we see every day.”
Even though opening his shop has not been easy, it has been rewarding for Beau to learn what it truly means to be an entrepreneur.
“Going through that hard pain of not having enough money for this week or having to worry about money this next week, or having to ask someone for money, was something hard, but I really wouldn’t have learned without that,” Beau said.
“I’ve come this far, yet I’m still looking at the finish line that’s forty miles away, and I’ve just done one mile. There’s a long way to go, but I still feel like I’m learning and I still have a lot left to give.”