Written by: 
Melisa Brown
Photography by: 
Michael Clements

Robert ('09, '11 M.S.) and Lauren Penn ('09) both worked in digital marketing doing inhouse and agency work -- focusing on brand messaging and strategic positioning -- when they and their children stumbled across the Frios Gourmet Pops concept during a vacation in Alabama.

While eating their frozen treats, the Penns' daughters talked about how the fruit pops had visible pureed strawberries right in the dessert, which made them look and taste fresh.

"I hadn't eaten a popsicle like that since childhood, and I was so intrigued by adult-style flavors in a kid-like treat," Lauren says.

Lauren started researching the Frios concept. Now, the Penns get the best of both worlds -- the flexibility of owning their own business and selling a product they believe in, while still using skills and education gained from their time at UNT.

"The advertising department was full of creative students and professors, and it was amazing to be a part of a daily 'think tank' in my classes," says Lauren, who was the first in her family to earn a college degree. "I learned how to come up with concepts, hone my presentation skills and accept feedback."

With Frios locations in Denton and McKinney, Robert and Lauren are putting their marketing backgrounds to use, spreading the word that one way to survive the sweltering Texas summer is to indulge in some tasty frozen treats. Their trendy flavors range from avocado lime and strawberry mojito to strawberry shortcake and cookies and cream. Frios pops are made by hand in Alabama at a facility that sources from area fruit and dairy farms.

The Penns say they're happy to join the booming Denton business scene, especially since they formed a connection to the city as students. And they have advice for others who might want to forge ahead with their own entrepreneurial ideas.

"Find a business concept you would enjoy if you were a customer," Lauren says. "People we interact with can see the enthusiasm on our faces."

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