Since 2009, Calgary’s known it as Fiasco.
Now, with international expansion on their minds and trademark issues to manage, the city’s once-startup gelato maker is now downright Righteous.
A company rebrand to Righteous Gelato is underway and there are big plans for the 11-year-old Calgary company.
When James Boettcher first launched out of a 100-square foot commissary space (just months earlier the single-scoop shop he was set to open burned in a fire) in 2009, there was no special affinity to the original name.
“No one could know we would grow from a little Vespa or food trucks serving gelato to the number one brand in Canada,” Boettcher told LiveWire Calgary on Tuesday.
They sold gelato for the first time in a Calgary grocery store just after the 2013 Alberta floods. From there, Boettcher said they continued building their product and the business. It was at that time, however, the connection to the community was cemented.
Boettcher and his team at Righteous worked tirelessly to raise money to help those affected by the floods – including the Calgary Zoo.
They built the Gelato Factory and Coffee Bar on 19 Street SE in 2015. That location was hit by another fire in December. Again, his team – and the community – helped pull it all back together.
As they grew, so did their popularity, both at home in Calgary and abroad. Boettcher said their international business has continued to grow along the way.
The rebrand to Righteous
Boettcher said trademark issues made their vision for further expansion difficult. That’s what began the rebranding conversation roughly 18 months ago. There’s a US company, founded in 2007 in the state of Maine, called Gelato Fiasco.
“Certain trademark challenges made it somewhat impossible to enrich people’s lives as we want to across the globe,” he said.
“That was really the genesis of the conversation starting about (the rebrand).”
It was at that point Boettcher and his leadership team started thinking about their company identity. With their commitment to the community, their employees and their product, the name Righteous stood out.
“I think the biggest thing for us is, we’ve known for a long time we’ve done a lot of work around community and purpose and all of those pieces really are who we are and what we stand for,” he said.
“When you think about the word righteous, it’s morally virtuous, you know – do the right thing is written on the wall.”
Righteous expansion into the US
Boettcher describes the US market as a beast.
There’s 10 times the number of people. The competition is fierce and there are great brands that really stand for something, Boettcher said.
“There’s a lot of reasons to sort of lean towards the conversation of, you know, we’ll just stay in Canada and do good here,” Boettcher said.
“However, we really got to the point where the excitement around, really what our company stands for, as well as the quality of the product were the catalysts for a conversation with one of our favorite retailers, Whole Foods markets here in Canada.”
But, he takes the lessons he’s learned along the way and is now applying it here.
“I think right now, in this moment, courage is probably the biggest lesson,” Boettcher said.
“Trust your heart. Trust your gut.”
Boettcher said they’ll continue the good work they do here in Canada and in Calgary. It’s what’s guided the company’s brand success from the start.
He said every company is faced with the decision of doing things just for the bottom line or doing them differently. Businesses are always at that crossroads, he said.
“It really always comes back to what our main aim is, to be honest. It’s doing the right thing,” he said.
That’s why now, the popular Calgary brand is Righteous Gelato.