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Vice Munchies- Talks froyo empire froco

Founder Farrah Abraham Froyo Empire

Frozen yogurt and sex don’t really go together. There’s an argument to be made for other sweets—whipped cream is conventional, chocolate is luxuriously drippy, bananas are phallic. But froyo, in addition to being sticky, is cold. Plus, it’s a dish best served with toppings.

Anyway, Farrah Abraham—multihyphenate reality television star and entrepreneur—wouldn’t recommend mixing the two. Or at least that’s what she has to say regarding reviewers who mention her past in the comments of the Yelp page of FroCo Fresh & Frozen, the froyo franchise she founded and opened in May of this year.

“They think I’m still years ago, [like] I’m doing sex tapes or something,” she tells me. “I mean, I don’t know what they’re doing. They’re probably having sex in their own lives, but frozen yogurt and sex are two different things.”

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Farrah Abraham, left, at the opening of a FroCo shop. Photo courtesy of FroCo.

Certainly, there’s what feels like a separation of church and state at the franchise’s flagship, located in an upscale strip mall in the suburban hills of Lakeway, Texas, just outside of Austin.

The shop’s sparkling tiled walls and purple, blue, and yellow color scheme are clearly designed to attract the interest of young kids, as is Coba the Popping Boba—the jolly, official FroCo mascot whose plush, round frame sits in stacked pyramids behind the toppings bar. In one corner, there’s a standing white board easel where kids can—and have—doodled to their sugar-hopped heart’s content. Near the entrance, there’s some boxes collecting canned food for a local drive. This is a place for families, not sex. It’s your typical froyo scene.

Unlike almost every other product Farrah has put out—the pasta sauce line, the branded webcam site, the erotic fiction series—there’s no mention of her celebrity anywhere at FroCo. Just walking in, you’d have no idea that it was built, from the ground up, with the profits of a personal brand set into motion by a reality television show predicated on unprotected, teenage sex. Unless you checked those Yelp reviews.

Or happened to stop in in the midst of filming. The store continues to be tied to the MTV Teen Mom franchise with appearances on Teen Mom OG season six, the finale of which premiered this month. Over the 15-episode series arc, Abraham hosts its grand opening, forces her dad to don the Coba mascot suit, and fires a FroCo employee. The eye-obscuring glasses she wears throughout the show have already sold out once, according to Farrah.

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A plush version of Coba, FroCo’s boba mascot. Photo courtesy of FroCo.

Froyo may seem off-brand for someone formerly referred to as “Backdoor Teen Mom,” but Farrah has long had an interest in the culinary arts, attending classes for culinary management at both Metropolitan Community College and the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. Her entrepreneurial drive dates back even further to her childhood, when she—as she likes to tell it—outdid a neighborhood boy’s lemonade stand with bigger cups, cheaper prices, a strawberry flavor, and a purple wig, ever the entertainer.

Why her interests centered on froyo specifically is less clear. She tells me that “God or something” sent down the idea for Coba, an animated froyo topping, to lead a brand. This was after she applied—and was approved, according to her—for franchising with established brands like Menchie’s and Sweet Frog, who expressed concern about her celebrity. (The brands didn’t respond to requests for comment.)

But “concern about her celebrity” seems to just fuel Farrah. Negativity is the through-line of her brand, the secret sauce that has helped her transform lemons into soft-serve sorbet.

“I think I leveraged negativity better than many people, and I think once you have that then you have the power to do anything that you want, regardless of you having sex and people know you have sex,” says Abraham. I ask if her sex tape was premeditated to achieve the kind of success that would allow her to open a froyo franchise, à la the Kim Kardashian empire narrative. No, she says, it wasn’t. And also “good for her.”

Just like the sex tape flack, or the “nasty” and “totally fake” Yelp reviews alleging employee abuse, or an interviewer assuming her commissioned sex tape was calculated, Abraham’s otherwise incohesive brand is unified by such an approach to negativity.

In fact, it’s one of FroCo’s founding principles. The brand’s mission statement is “Passion + Positivity. Keep it popping.” So far, things are continuing to pop for Farrah as she begins her pivot from sex symbol to family-friendly franchisee and entrepreneurial empire overseer, somehow managing the cognitive dissonance inherent in those positions.

When we meet over non-fat, no-sugar-added, cake-batter-flavored froyo (my choice) and a banana flambé and toasted marshmallow froyo swirl (her Sunday special), she has just come from the grand opening of a new children’s boutique, Sophia Laurent, and a new furniture store, Furnished by Farrah. In the works, she has plans for a book about entrepreneurship, as well as a full-service restaurant with a similarly positive message of harmony and flow.

And, according to Abraham, next year will see a FroCo froyo franchise expansion with interest in outposts coming from South Carolina, California, and Louisiana.

“You can never regain the same success doing the same thing over and over,” says Abraham. “It’s just like, I love that I can do anything now in any category.”

Good for her.



See more at vice here: https://munchies.vice.com/en/articles/inside-farrah-abrahams-froyo-empire

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