Claire Crowell scoops ice cream with community in mind
Words by Ashley Locke
Before Puckett’s Grocery became a household name in Middle Tennessee, twelve-year-old Claire Crowell was stocking coolers at the original in Leipers Fork. The market, owned by her father, was her introduction to the food service industry. She’s still working for Puckett’s today—though she’s no longer stocking shelves—but she has also forged her own path as founder and CEO of Hattie Jane’s Creamery.
Born out of leftover space at the Puckett’s in Columbia, Tennessee, Hattie Jane’s Creamery was a merger of two of Claire’s favorite things: ice cream and coffee. Ice cream had been a fixture for her at the market and in her life, always in the background at birthdays and other family gatherings, and coffee was always a perfect pairing. Claire also recognized the wealth of fresh, local ingredients at her fingertips. It felt natural to marry her love of sweet treats with her support of local agriculture.
Named after her firstborn daughter, the Creamery opened in 2016. Since then, it has expanded from Columbia into Franklin, Nashville, and Murfreesboro. There are a few staple flavors, as well as a rotating list of seasonal favorites—all inspired by the modern culinary flavors of the South. Though there was a lot that went into turning the ice cream dream into a reality, the most important ingredient of all was community.
Hattie Jane’s wouldn’t exist without a supportive community—and Claire is well aware of that fact—so it’s important to her to return that support. “Giving back is something that was modeled for me my whole life,” said Claire. “But it’s no surprise that my focus is on women and kids.”
Claire is a big supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee. “My dad was a Boys & Girls Clubs kid out of a difficult home,” she said. “Here in Maury County, the Boys & Girls Clubs fill in the gap for before and after school care for all the kids in the public school system.” The phrase “after school care” only scratches the surface of what the organization does. It also provides educational support, helps kids develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle, and teaches them how to become engaged citizens in their communities.
“Though I knew about the Boys & Girls Clubs, I became more familiar with them because the founder is a fellow member of Les Dames d’Escoffier Nashville,” said Claire. It was that connection that inspired Claire to set up her first volunteer day with the organization, and she has been donating ever since.
Les Dames d’Escoffier is an organization of women leaders in the food and beverage industry, and Claire is an active member. Through her membership, she’s been able to connect with many amazing women in the local food and beverage industry. Outside of the organization, she also lifts up local business owners through collaborations with Hattie Jane’s. Tennessee-owned businesses such as The Cupcake Collection, Muletown Coffee Roasters, Corsair Distillery, and Green Door Gourmet, have worked with Claire to develop specialty ice cream flavors. These collaborations introduce ice cream lovers to companies they may not have known about, all while supporting the local economy. “For our ingredients, we always prioritize Tennessee,” said Claire. “I want our ice cream to not just represent the Old South, but also what the South is doing now.”
Hattie Jane’s also hosts a number of Give Back days, where 20 percent of daily sales are donated to local charities and organizations. Through Give Back days, Claire has supported the Tennessee Foster Adoptive Care Association, The Nashville Food Project, the Franklin 4-H Club, the Center of Hope, the Murfreesboro Center for the Arts, and of course the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee.
While Claire uses her position as a community business leader to help out local organizations, you don’t have to be a leader to make a difference—anyone can donate or volunteer at the Boys & Girls Clubs. Find your local club at https://www.bgca.org/.