Bad days especially call for ice cream, Sherri Corwin said, recalling one of her favorite self-care rituals and the way it became her freshly creamed, Midtown-scooped startup — a venture that’s left tails across the metro wagging for waffle cones.
“People really do love their pets,” said Corwin, who in February opened Mixed Mutt Creamery — an artisan ice cream shop and gathering place for dogs and their owners. The space is served up in honor of her family’s 12-year-old labrador mix, Starbuck, who died unexpectedly last year.
“A favorite memory for us was going to have ice cream. We would have something, she would have something. It was just a great memory — and what I wanted to create [for other animal lovers.]”
Corwin, a former restaurant and coffee shop owner, almost immediately got to work creating Mixed Mutt after the loss of Starbuck; her way of healing and putting to use a skill for churning out canine confections she’d picked up while caring for the pup and her sibling, Branches.
She quickly found a retail space at 1607 W 39th St. — the former home of a Scoby Masters Tea-Biotics taproom, which shuttered amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
From “cheddar apple cream” to “barking maple bacon,” the space now sees Corwin churn 10 flavors of handmade, artisan ice cream — each one lactose free and specifically formulated for dogs with one additional flavor on hand (or paw) for cats.
Click here to shop the Mixed Mutt website or to order Corwin’s signature ice cream for delivery in the Kansas City-area.
“We have a lot of great people treats too,” she added, noting the shop stocks Shatto Milk products, including ice cream sandwiches, along with those of St. Louis-based Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery — the world’s first microcreamery, lauded by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and “Real Housewives” showrunner and St. Louis native Andy Cohen.
“There’s only 12 [locations] in the country. Oprah calls it the sexiest ice cream alive,” Corwin said amused, noting the Tamara Keefe-founded creamery is among a long list of other woman-owned companies with which she’s proud to partner.
The Mixed Mutt storefront features adoption events and a full retail shop that includes doggie date boxes, collars, bowls, toys and additional types of treats intended to pamper pets, their people, and giveback to groups such as Wayside Waifs, the organization that connected Corwin with Starbuck.
“I love supporting other smaller companies; that’s been really important to me,” Corwin said.
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With collaboration a critical component to the Mixed Mutt machine, creating a space where pets can be pets remains Corwin’s first and most fulfilling priority, she added.
“They bring so much joy and happiness and laughter and it just made such a difference in our house and our hearts. I thought, ‘Gosh, what can I do [for animals?] I want to do more,’” Corwin said, recalling she nearly opened a rescue operation before pursuing Mixed Mutt.
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In July, Corwin launched Mixed Mutt’s latest flavor, Starbuck’s Sunshine — a blend of her dog-friendly vanilla ice cream, chamomile and calendula flowers — which sees 100 percent of its profits used to help rescue and shelter dogs across the city, Sherri Corwin explained.
“We have been able to surprise Melissa’s Second Chance, Wayside Waifs, Great Plains SPCA and Humane Society of Greater Kansas City with ice cream for all the shelter dogs looking for their furever homes,” she said.
“We are excited to continue spreading the joy to more of the shelter [and] rescue dogs. We have several surprise visits planned in the near future.”
Time, however, is limited, Corwin said. And it is best spent pursuing activities where passion finds itself easily unleashed.
“My dad passed away less than a month after [Starbuck]. Everyone had a rough year last year. A lot of people are still having a super rough time — but between [Starbuck] and my dad, I learned life’s too short to not follow your passion and your dreams,” she said.
“I know it’s only been six months, but [this business] feels right. Seeing the people, seeing the dogs get rescued … it feels completely right.”
And such a feeling is especially relevant on the most difficult days for pet owners, Corwin said, noting Mixed Mutt has found itself at the center of a growing list of stories that parallel that of its founding.
“A dog parent [recently] came in who had [received] a bad diagnosis at the vet,” she recalled, highlighting three similar occasions in the six months since Mixed Mutt opened.
“Whatever time she had left with her doggo, [she came in to spoil it]. I’m so excited that this was the place they came and it was just a really moving moment for me — especially just having gone through this,” Corwin continued, quick to acknowledge sadness doesn’t last forever — but moments topped with joy can be lasting.
“To think I have created somewhere [people] can come together for one last doggo date … I am truly honored that I have a space for them to create that last memory,” she said.
“I just know this is what I’m supposed to do.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.