A funny thing happened to Barb Stauffer and Leah Monaghan on their way to creating healthful, homemade frozen treats for their children.
The Clintonville women found themselves swept into the farm-to-cocktail movement.
It's a variation of the farm-to-table idea, which seeks to use fresh, local meats, vegetables and other foods in cooking.
Three years ago, Monaghan and Stauffer were experimenting with simple syrups to make healthful frozen treats, drawing flavor from real fruits and herbs, rather than turn-your-tongue-red fake cherry common in store-bought treats.
"Every (treat) we made, we were thinking, this would taste good with vodka or bourbon," Monaghan recalled.
Soon, the two friends were on their way to becoming part of the growing craft cocktail industry. They took the leap into entrepreneurship, only to find that it involved jumping through a lot of regulatory hoops.
"It was not as simple as we thought," Monaghan said.
They began the journey that would lead to the founding of ROOT 23 -- a name that evokes the natural ingredients they use as well as nearby U.S. Route 23 -- by narrowing the flavor combinations via tastings with friends and family.
Syrup flavors offered on the website include pear rosemary, blueberry mint, grapefruit basil and cucumber habanero, which the women said is especially popular.
Stauffer and Monaghan next discovered the all-natural, flavor-infused syrups don't fall into the category of cottage food groups that can be made in the home. They needed to obtain a license to have the products made at an inspected facility. Registration with the Food and Drug Administration also was required.
"Everything was a process," Stauffer said.
She added that during those moments when she was ready to toss in the towel and give up on the business idea, Monaghan would be optimistic and vice versa.
Stauffer said the partners decided they weren't just going to sell the syrups at local farmers markets, but also would approach retail stores.
The first batch of ROOT 23 syrups was ready in May 2015. The women loaded a car with bottles, Monaghan said, and went to 10 different retail outlets, hoping to be successful at just one.
All 10 took a few of the bottles, she said.
"That summer was a big learning curve," Stauffer said.
Today, ROOT 23 ships to stores in 10 states, and the products are sold through the Uncommon Goods website.
"I think we have a lot of growth potential," Stauffer said.
"We have just gone gangbusters with our sampler packs," Monaghan said. "We're just kind of having this organic growth."
"It's been fun to see how well this has been accepted," Stauffer added.
Both women said they are proud that their children have not only helped with development of the business but learned lessons about hard work paying off.
Stauffer and her husband, Jeff Stauffer, have three children: Anne, 14; Noah, 13; and Ben, 11.
Leah and Tim Monaghan are parents to 12-year-old Jack and Grace, 10.