Julia Gilliard never saw herself as a leader, but after working at the Costco bakery for eight years, she quit to follow her dreams. Now the 27-year-old is the owner of The Shake Shed Freddy, spending her days blending instead of baking.
“I knew that starting a business would be very, very difficult. But I knew that I had the drive to accomplish it if I really wanted to,” said Gilliard.
Located on Main Street on Fredericton’s north side, The Shake Shed Freddy opened on March 23. It offers nine gourmet flavours of milkshakes. They’re served in mason jar mugs and topped with everything from brownies to doughnuts. There are also four classic flavours and floats available.
Gilliard had her first gourmet milkshake in Calgary, Alta. in 2017. The experience made her realize how few unique restaurants New Brunswick had to offer. When her friend sent her a Snapchat photo in May 2018 of a similar milkshake from Disneyland, Gilliard knew she had to do something.
“I was like, I wish Fredericton had something like that here. We don’t have anything unique [or] different going on. It’s just kind of the same old pub and restaurant kind of thing.”
Setting up shop
Gilliard began planning right away, but the process was harder than she expected.
She had some help from her husband, who owns Kyan Construction and her mom who took a business course in university.
She went to the Business Development Bank of Canada who set her up with a company called Futurpreneur. Futurpreneur gives entrepreneurs start-up loans up to $15,000. Gilliard started the application process in June and was approved by Sept. 1.
At the time, she planned on opening a shack at the Northside Market called The Shake Shack Freddy. But a friend told her Shake Shack was a franchise in the United States, so she started doing her research. She was told by Corporate Affairs and by a lawyer the name should be fine. But later, Shake Shack contacted her to say they had rights to the name despite not having any locations in Canada. This forced her to make some changes.
“The name change was actually at first very daunting for me. But it got my creative juices flowing a little bit more. And the simple change from shack to shed was easy,” said Gilliard.
Along with the name, she also came up with the hashtag, #GetShakeFaced.
Keeping the creative juices flowing
Gilliard based the different flavours off her favourite desserts. They include the New Yorker, Donut Give Up, Hella Nutella, Ode to Oreo, Peanut Butter and Cookies, Downie Brownie, Minty Fresh, Birthday Cake and Bananas for You. The basic flavours are Cheeky Chocolate, Caffeine Fix, Slick Strawberry and Very Vanilla.
She came up with all the names herself and once the business takes off, she wants to add more.
The Shake Shed even offers $2 milkshakes for dogs with all proceeds going to the SPCA.
Gilliard said she enjoys interior design and decorating, so she had a vision of what the shop should look like. She also got some ideas from Pinterest and Instagram and help from her husband.
“I knew in my head, all I pictured was a milkshake wall with little milkshake icons and I knew that had to happen,” said Gilliard. “I wanted everything to be white with added pops of colour.”
On the wall with milkshake icons is a neon sign that reads, “Have your shake and eat it too.” A counter with turquoise stools for seating runs along the opposite wall for customers to sit and enjoy their treats.
Although there are some other niche restaurants and cafés in Fredericton, Gilliard said she’s not worried because she wants to support other businesses.
“I don’t believe in competition, I believe in lifting each other up and helping each other out,” she said.
Supporting each other is especially important to Gilliard as a female business owner.
“It’s all about women empowering women. We can rule the world if we are just able to work together.”