City Foundry Food Hall Spotlight: A Chat with Kaylen Wissinger at Poptimism

September 25, 2020
Photo by Ann K. Hubbard

Ready for all the popsicles! Poptimism is our latest vendor to join the food hall, and we caught up with owner Kaylen Wissinger, who also owns Whisk a sustainable bake shop on Cherokee Street, to talk about her plans for expansion at City Foundry. Poptimism features local, seasonally driven frozen treats, and she has plans for more than just pops. Learn more about how the self-taught chef has grown her business here in St. Louis. 

Why City Foundry? What made you want to expand the Poptimism brand?

I was really excited when I heard City Foundry was coming to fruition. Having lived in St. Louis my whole life and having gone to high school and college in the area, it’s been amazing to see the neighborhood grow over the last 10 years or so. I knew that City Foundry could be a great opportunity to expand awareness beyond our current customers. Although COVID-19 has brought struggles for so many small businesses, it was actually a welcomed pause for our team. During the shutdown this spring, we expanded our production facilities and now we can make the leap to expand our Poptimism brand at City Foundry. 

What can we expect from your City Foundry Location compared to Whisk and the Poptimism Truck?

Our City Foundry location will feature the pops that people know and love, plus the addition of boozy popsicles and a fun twist on soft serve with waffle cones. Our soft serve flavors will embrace the same standards as our items at Whisk and Poptimism – a focus on sustainability, seasonal ingredients from local farmers, and of course, some fun, creative flavors along the way. We won’t be doing your standard chocolate and vanilla, but flavors that highlight fruits and vegetables and mimic the flavor profiles of our baked goods at Whisk. 

What’s your history as a baker/ice cream/popsicle maker? 

I’ve always had a passion for baking. I distinctly remember a trip to visit extended family in Chicago in 2007 where we visited a cupcake shop. At the time, a bakery just selling cupcakes blew my mind.  Cupcakes are one of those simple desserts that make everyone happy. I started baking seriously in college as a hobby, but I eventually reached out to the Tower Grove’s Farmers Market to test out my recipes. They took a chance on me with my initial concept called Farm Fresh Cupcakes in 2011. We iced cupcakes on-site, and it was a big hit. Our support grew from there and by April 2012, we signed a lease for the Whisk space. We continued to sell our expanded line of baked goods at the Farmer’s Market, and when we first introduced the popsicles, we could only make about 40 a week that would instantly sell out. From there, it just escalated and Poptimism was created officially in 2018.  

Where do you get inspiration from?

I don’t have a story of learning from my grandma or growing up baking, it’s just something that I fell in love with. I like to think of myself as that grandma, the cool, hip fun kind ;). I want to make items that people crave. I want guests to feel that sense of home and the love of our products. I’m a firm believer that you can taste the passion behind food, and that’s what motivates me daily. Sustainability has also always been important to me. I would walk the Farmers’ Market and see all the interesting fruits and vegetables that our local farmers grow – that inspires me. I want to shop local and keep our dollars in our local economy and also keep our carbon footprint low. 

You’ve come up with some pretty unique flavors. Where do those come from and what are the most popular? 

I really like to experiment with new flavors – what would be interesting? What would I want to eat? Yes, we’ve done some crazy flavors like the Provel pop (you can thank my husband for that idea), but people also love our simple seasonal flavors that use local ingredients. For example, our Watermelon pop is pureed watermelon with simple syrup, lime and salt. Super simple, but people always say “wow this tastes like watermelon!” Some other favorites include peach basil, lemon dreampop, strawberry, avocado and Nutella fudge. 

What do you hope people who visit your stand leave with?

I hope that when they enjoy our pops and soft-serve, they’ll want to keep coming back and making memories at City Foundry. I am excited to be a part of a place that will bring St. Louis together and let our love, passion and excitement shine through. I want people to feel joy, especially right now. We just had our first design meeting for our booth, and it’s going to be super colorful so I’m hoping that guests will be able to find moments of happiness with a visit to see us at City Foundry.