Campus Tastemakers: Billy Shakes

Freshman John Bergin lovingly splays out his materials on a tiny kitchen counter in Hill House—two containers of ice cream, a gallon of milk, two blenders, three mason jars, and a picnic basket filled with secret ingredients. He crosses his arms and smiles, as if to say, “Are you ready for this?”

Bergin has already entered the ranks of the campus elite by starting an underground milkshake operation under the name “Billy Shakes” and he’s kind enough to let me interview him about his business and test out his delicious shakes.

Bergin’s charismatic demeanor, loving bear hugs, and dedication to milkshake-making all contribute to his successful business plan at SLC. However, he didn’t grow up wanting to be a milkshake man.

Bergin explains, “I only started launching a milkshake business last summer, with my best friend Billy. Neither of us had any experience making shakes or running a business, but people liked our idea. It really got started when I came to Sarah Lawrence this year.”

Bergin’s popular shakes first debuted in 5P in Hill House, where he enthusiastically created delicious concoctions for his friends using only two blenders—eccentrically jumping around the apartment to serve his guests while snapping disposable photos of the party scene. Bergin included everyone in the fun—whoever knocked on the door got a specialty shake.

Bergin takes a break from blending me a milkshake to sit down and talk more about the business side of things. When I ask him about the significance of the name “Billy Shakes” he chuckles, recalling the exact moment the idea came to him.

“An image popped into my head during my junior year in high school—William Shakespeare drinking a milkshake. I told my friend Billy that we should start a business together but he thought the idea was really dumb, so we had a huge fight about it in the woods. I kept bringing it up throughout senior year, and finally he gave in. Last summer we started making promotional t-shirts.”

Bergin and his friend Billy’s plan is to gain publicity for the business around their respective colleges—Billy is currently spreading the word at U Mass Amherst. Eventually, the duo would like to open up a shop together when they graduate.

Bergin says, “Billy and I want to go South, most likely to North Carolina since the climate is always warm and we could sell the shakes year-round. And a large part of that demographic is 18-25 year olds.”

After much anticipation, Bergin pours me a mouth-watering milkshake into a small mason jar, and I chug it whole heartily, wishing I’d savored it a bit more. Bergin’s grins from ear to ear, knowing that he’s made another customer happy.

If you want to try one of the famous Billy Shakes milkshakes, come find Bergin at 5P in Hill House, or in his room in Taylor. He sells his shakes for $3.50 this week, $4.00 for delivery. And if you’d like to order a promotional Billy Shakes t-shirt, you can contact Bergin via Facebook. Short sleeve tees are $15 and long sleeves are $20.

You can also follow Bergin’s Twitter account (Billy Shakes Inc), Facebook page (Billy Shakes Inc) and Instagram account (mercibeauyou).

Interview by Hannah Gottlieb-Graham
Photo by Kate Hamrick and Hannah Gottlieb Graham

James Neiley (Fashion Editor) is a senior and enjoys lounge kimonos, vintage fur, and large bathtubs. He studies fashion history and french, but particularly revels in excellent cinema costume design.

1 Comment

  • Reply December 20, 2013

    Gaia Liotta

    I think this is awesome, and I commend his work. However, doesn’t this operation conflict with the AVI Contract?

Leave a Reply