Wednesday, November 16, 2022
After having lost my job due to the pandemic, I refused to let it define my career, let alone my culinary career. I knew I needed to do something to support myself and, more importantly, my son. My passion for the culinary industry allowed me to consider alternative career paths. Thus, Tyler's Gelatte Stone was founded, a local take on an Italian spin on ice cream.
During the planning stages, I knew I didn't want to open a shop just to open a shop. I wanted this shop to have meaning and to be a legacy that my son could inherit one day. I wanted a name that would immediately remind people that this is a local, Saipan-based company, so I came up with Tyler's Gelatte Stone – Tyler for my son's name and the permutation of gelato and latte stone, thus Gelatte Stone.
When I first opened my shop, my intention was to create a dessert with a local flair for everyone to enjoy, but it quickly evolved into something much larger. In my first year as Tyler's Gelatte Stone's owner and operator, I had the opportunity to collaborate with a variety of community organizations. We used our platforms to educate, advocate for, and donate to local organizations such as the Autism Society of the CNMI, the Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse, and the Division of Youth Services.
I am extremely fortunate to be able to collaborate with such wonderful community partners. I recognize the value of collaboration, which is why I instituted "Small Business Sundays." For this event, we invite eight to 12 micro businesses to set up shop at our Sugar King Park location and sell their products, network, and gain new customers, thus further channeling more money back into the economy.
Furthermore, Tyler's Gelatte Stone contributes to the growth of the CNMI economy by purchasing fresh fruits from local farmers and employing two people, which generates money for the economy and the livelihood of these two employees. I’ve had more than 50 businesses join us, and I must say, it's been a pleasure to provide entrepreneurs with a platform to expand or launch their businesses.
If there’s one thing, I would like to remind aspiring, upcoming entrepreneurs is that it’s okay to be scared and feel uncertain. I promise you, once you identify your target audience, connect with key community stakeholders, and work your hardest, it will pay off. It may take time, but you will get there. I would not have been where I am now without the amazing support of the community and fellow small business owners if I hadn’t taken that risk.
While we are still dealing with the "endemic," local businesses are doing their best to stay afloat. I’d like to remind our community that when you support small businesses, you are supporting a dream, preserving jobs, and empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs.
I’d like to invite the community, as well, to visit Tyler’s Gelatte Stone and the other vendors at Sugar King Park! We have a variety of fusions ready for you to enjoy while you watch your kids having fun at the park.
By Benjamin Babauta
Opening his shop on June 11, 2021, inside Sugar King Park, Benjamin Babauta became the owner of Tyler’s Gelatte Stone that provides a local twist on an Italian spin on ice cream. Following the opening of his shop, Benjamin won the Small Business of the Year award from the Saipan Chamber of Commerce in Dec. 2021.