Dad’s influence evident in her professional focus

By Bryan Richardson

Like father, like daughter. Stephanie Pierce’s dad went to K-State, so she did as well. He graduated from the business school, and she followed in his footsteps. He’s a business owner, so naturally Pierce became one, too.

Purple Swirl Frozen Yogurt, owned by Pierce and her husband, Houston, has been open in the West Loop Shopping Center for nearly a year. The one-year anniversary is coming up April 13.

“You kind of look back and say we’ve come this far already,” Pierce said. She handles the day-to-day operations and marketing, and Houston, an accountant for VonFeldt, Bauer & VonFeldt, extends that work to the business.

Both Stephanie and Houston are K-State graduates. Naturally, they wanted to show that, hence the purple both in the name and on the walls. “There’s definitely a lot of purple in here,” she said.

Pierce grew up in western Kansas, but she spent a lot of time in her childhood in her future home. “Ever since I was a little girl, we went to every single home football game,” Pierce said. “Manhattan was like a second home to me.”

Pierce made memories, some of them better than others. “I used to cry when we lost,” she said. “K-State is definitely in my blood.”

Entrepreneurship is also in Pierce’s blood. Her father contributed the inspiration to own a business through his own accounting business. It’s the one her husband also works for. She said there’s a pride in being able to look back and see what you’ve accomplished.

“He’s my role model and someone I look up to,” Pierce said. “That desire has been instilled in me since I was younger.”

When it comes time to start a business, people gravitate toward their passions and interests. “It was something we both really liked,” Pierce said. “It’s family friendly. It’s sweet but also good for you.”

Pierce said other people enjoy frozen yogurt too, making the leap into ownership a little bit easier. “It’s a business concept that’s been doing well over the past few years,” she said.

The research into starting Purple Swirl began in October 2011. The couple signed the lease Jan. 4, 2012, and prepared for the opening.

Pierce said she had a natural nervousness to see how people would respond. She also had to figure out how to best make the business work.

“Once you get the everyday stuff into a routine, you can focus on what customers like the most and what you can do to make the experience better,” she said.

She’s learned quite a bit since Purple Swirl’s opening nearly a year ago such as adapting and trying new things, and learning to enjoy the job rather than stressing about it.

“Make sure your own pride doesn’t get in the way of making adjustments,” she said.

The proper adjustments are important in a business that rotates what it provides on a weekly basis.

Pierce said standards — notably vanilla and chocolate — are always on the menu. Other flavors are rotated based on a number of factors including a new flavor being auditioned, seasonal flavors (pumpkin or peppermint) and the flavor’s popularity.

Being independent rather than a part of a chain helps with the ability to be creative and make adjustments, Pierce said. The shop has added lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.

Pierce also likes the ability to host fundraisers to help contribute to the community. Various organizations, mostly K-State related, set up fundraisers with her throughout the year to get a portion of the sales.

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