JOURNAL: Liv a Little

Photo+courtesy+of+Olivia+Menzia.

Photo courtesy of Olivia Menzia.

As the snow started to melt during her last semester on campus, Olivia Menzia formed her vegan ice cream company Liv a Little. What started as an in-apartment operation, making it for her roommates and others on her floor, quickly became something much bigger. 

“I became the ice cream woman before I even started selling it,” Olivia says. 

Now, three years later, her business has grown exponentially from taking her ice cream cart to events such as the Milwaukee Night Market to selling specialized flavors at local restaurants. Warm Hugs is just one example, a vanilla chai flavor that lives up to its name:  rich, creamy, and perfect for a touch of fall on a hot summer day. It’s at these local events and stores that Menzia began to gain such a strong following. Ariel Powers is just one of these customers in the community that Menzia credits with “holding (her) accountable to keep going” by constantly asking for updates on new flavors and upcoming events. Powers and her boyfriend have been loyal customers for about a year and when they tried Menzia’s ice cream for the first time, there was no going back. 

“It was just so good. We aren’t vegan by any means and having the vegan ice cream that just was wow. It’s phenomenal. We eat normal ice cream, normal custard and everything in it was right up there,” says Powers enthusiastically. 

On top of ice cream, Menzia has broadened her offerings to include vegan ice cream pies and creamers. Ashley Kenney, a Marquette alumna and loyal customer who frequents the Liv a Little cart at local events comments that “ a lot of other oat milk based coffee creamers have a weird consistency when you mix it in the coffee, but hers is like super smooth. It’s perfect.” 

When reflecting on her journey, Menzia says confidently that she “always knew” that Liv a Little was going to be something she took on past college and into her professional career. She says that “if you don’t believe it no one else is going to.” This is the energy that has been with her from the beginning when she came up with the name, Liv a Little. “I have a little journal that I had started in middle school with drawings and stuff and I wrote that down,” she says with a shining smile. 

However, younger Olivia never knew that having her own business was something she would do at such a young age. 

“I thought it was going to be something that I did after I had a long career in design and advertising so for sophomore and junior year I was looking at working at agencies,” she says. “Then when this Liv a Little thing came up, I was like ‘wait a second, this is working. I could do this now.’ And it was really exciting. It felt like all the stars were aligning.” 

It’s her background in design and advertising that has allowed her to create a product that is “ arguably me in a brand,” as Menzia put it, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by customers. 

Powers notes that when it comes to the brand, “everything is bright and happy just like herself. I feel that cohesiveness between her brand, her personality.” 

Getting to the stability that her brand currently has wasn’t an easy feat. Menzia’s advice? 

“Just to start, it doesn’t need to be perfect,” she says. “With my ice cream, if I had the ice cream I originally made, it’s awful compared to my product right now.” 

Looking towards the future, Menzia has a lot in store for Liv a Little. She hopes to “have an ice cream truck and have expanded my wholesale” including having her product sold in one small grocery store. 

Above all, Menzia says that “as long as I’m happy with Liv a Little and still having fun that’s my biggest thing. As long as I’m having fun doing it and people are loving it and they’re getting their ice cream fix that they couldn’t have before because they’re dairy free, I’m doing a good job.” 

The Menzia that was crouched over a new ice cream machine in late winter in her Marquette dorm has come a long way, from testing her newest flavor combination to having customers following her from event to event. It’s safe to say that whatever lies on the rocky road ahead, Menzia is ready to take on any challenge, with a contagious smile and ice cream scoop in hand. 

You can find all of Menzia’s products on her website at https://www.livalittleicecream.com. 

This story was written by Anna Houston. She can be reached at anna.houston@marquette.edu.