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Kiln & Co. Owner Shares Perks of Running a ‘Mom-Owned’ Shop

The owner behind the Kiln & Co. custard-meets-pottery shops said being a mom-owned, local business has many perks.

Sarah Selvaraj told Tysons Reporter that she gets to spend time with her 9-year-old daughter, who helps paint the pottery and taste the custard.

“It’s definitely given me the freedom of having my daughter with me,” she said.

Selvaraj said Kiln started as a pottery spot that opened in 2013 in Vienna when her daughter was 3.

Three years later, Nielsen’s Frozen Custard closed nearby, leaving Selvaraj and her customers without a sweet treat after making pottery.

“A lot of our neighbors would do the pottery and then get the custard,” she said. So Selvaraj decided to start her own custard shop within the pottery location — and Kiln & Custard was born.

“It was to more to satisfy our needs because we had an addiction [to Nielsen’s] by then,” she said.

While some places serve custard in a soft-serve machine, she said Kiln uses an old-fashioned machine that makes the custard creamy. “We do over 12 flavors every day and they are all organic with no artificial colors,” she said.

Selvaraj then opened the Reston location (1631 N. Washington Plaza) in 2017, followed by the Falls Church spot (455 S. Maple Avenue) last year after the city approached Kiln. People can find custard and pottery at all three locations.

“They had a unique location they were trying to fill in,” she said, “The city had been extremely helpful… It just organically happened.”

The Vienna spot (138 Church Street NW), though, is the home-base. All of the custard gets made in the kitchen there and then delivered daily to the two smaller, satellite spots. The location also has a 3,000-square-foot party room, wheel room, kiln room and a back patio.

While Selvaraj doesn’t have plans to expand the store at the moment, she does have plans to expand the product. “We are stretched to the max with the three locations,” she said.

Selvaraj said she wants to offer a ceramic line by Christmas so that people looking for holiday gifts can purchase items from Kiln.

“We do get a lot of custom orders. We might have a small, curated selection that people can buy off the shelf,” she said.

Whether or not that ceramic continues after the holiday season will depend on customer demand, she said, adding that Kiln appeals to parents to kids.

“Some of the most loyal followers for the custard are seniors who come religiously on a daily basis,” she said. “Moms and kids — if they are coming to paint pottery, they end up getting custard regardless.”

Being a mom herself, Selvaraj understands the appeal of having a space where parents can hang out with their kids during the summer.

“It definitely helps being mom-owned,” she said.

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