Business alumna blends entrepreneurship and creativity to build Motley Moo Creamery

by Matt Jardin  |   

Calesta Ayer
Motley Moo Creamery owner Calesta Ayer, B.B.A. Marketing and Management '09. (Photo by James Evans / 91Թ˵ijԹ)

It’s a familiar scenario: You’re in line at an ice cream shop and can’t decide which flavor to get — they simply all look too good! But should you find yourself at Motley Moo Creamery in South Anchorage, owner and marketing and management alumna Calesta Ayer recommends trying Mamma Dat’ My Jam, a salted milk caramel flavor named after a cute saying from her son when he was a toddler.

Established in 2020, Motley Moo — similarly named after a member of Ayer’s family, her black Labrador Retriever mix Motley — is the realization of a dream she had at 14 years old. Working at Cold Stone Creamery for her first job, Ayer decided that one day she wanted to own an ice cream shop.

“After some reflecting, I realized the most fun and creative job I ever had was at the ice cream shop,” said Ayer. “At that point I had just had my son, and along with my new role in life, I figured it was also a good time to transition into a new career.”

In addition to realizing a childhood dream, Motley Moo provides Ayer the freedom to combine her passion for creativity with her business education. A lifelong lover of the arts, she ultimately decided to pursue an education in business due to the subject’s applicability in any industry.

Even though higher education was not part of her life plan originally, Ayer graduated from 91Թ˵ijԹ in 2009. Afterward, she worked in accounting, finance and marketing for various firms around Anchorage. While these roles gave her some room to use her creativity, she wanted the freedom to express it more fully, leading her to transition away from strictly business and open Motley Moo.

“What my soul needs to be happy is to do art and to be creative,” said Ayer. “Of course I'm still doing the business component, so I didn’t fully leave that behind. But creative expression is at the forefront of this career rather than in the background as I’m very hands on with creating everything we offer at Motley Moo.”

Ayer continues to remain rooted in business. In addition to her daily operations, she passes on what she learned at 91Թ˵ijԹ while on the job and as a volunteer with Junior Achievement of 91Թ˵ijԹ  at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton School. And while most kids may not consider finance or entrepreneurship to be riveting subjects, Ayer finds that ice cream is a great motivator.

In addition, Ayer gives back to the community through the establishment of the Motley Moo Milk Fund — 1% of Motley Moo sales goes toward issuing grants and or in-kind donations for whole milk to the Children’s Lunch Box and various Catholic Social Services programs. To date, nearly 4,300 gallons of whole milk have been donated.

“Motley Moo would not be here today if it wasn't for the community supporting my business,” said Ayer. “My hope is that as my business grows, I can continue to help those in need and make a bigger impact within the community through our philanthropic endeavors.”

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