Three is enough, for now, for entrepreneur Troika Brodsky

Troika Brodsky. Photo: Bill Motchan

By Bill Motchan, Special to the Jewish Light

For most people, one job is plenty. Not Troika Brodsky. The local entrepreneur juggles three businesses. He has no shortage of energy and enthusiasm, especially when it comes to being a booster for St. Louis.

Brodsky is executive director of the St. Louis Brewers Guild. He operates Yoga Buzz with his effervescent wife, Elle Potter. And he is part owner of an ice cream shop near Tower Grove Park called Ices Plain & Fancy.

Each enterprise features a twist on the ordinary. Brodsky is always thinking about ways to improve his projects and try new concepts. Heredity may have something to do with his creative outlook. His grandparents, the late Saul and Charlotte Brodsky, whom Troika Brodsky describes as “loving and generous people,” in 1983 established the Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library, a department of Jewish Federation of St. Louis. 

Troika Brodsky’s late father, L.D. (Louis Daniel) Brodsky, was a prolific author, a scholar of William Faulkner and a member of the St. Louis Jewish community. Brodsky family lore says that one of Faulkner’s sons suggested the name Troika when he was born. The name also formed a neat bookend to that of his older sister Trilogy.

“With a name like Troika, you have to live up to your creative potential,” Potter said with a laugh. “Every time I leave town, I come back and he says, ‘Hey, I bought an ice cream shop,’ or ‘I had lunch with somebody and I thought about creating such-and-such.’ I think maybe I shouldn’t leave him alone for too long!”


The 38-year-old impresario figures he can keep busy for now with his three enterprises and cheerleading for his hometown, which he does primarily through planning and executing the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival, an event held annually in June on Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard along the riverfront. It’s one of the largest beer festivals in the St. Louis area, with food, music and beer samples from more than 40 local breweries. 

The Brewers Guild also hosts a smaller annual Halloween festival with unlimited beer sampling from more than 30 local breweries, live music and costumes. This year’s festival will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, in Lafayette Park.

Stress and success

Before Brodsky got involved, the Heritage Festival had not been run as a fundraiser, so changes had to be made. Brodsky helped reboot the event and moved it downtown from its previous home in Forest Park.

“When I talk about cheerleading our city, we want people to get out and experience things,” he said. “The opportunity is there, especially with something like the Heritage Festival, to show solidarity as an industry, and such a positive message to say, ‘We care about downtown.’ There’s the potential to turn the festival into a real anchor event for the city.”

Brodsky helped make the popular festival even more successful. His business acumen and knowledge of beer comes from a 14-year stint at the St. Louis Brewery, the company that brews Schlafly beer. Brodsky worked on a number of projects at the brewery, eventually being named director of communications.

He started as a seasonal employee and was hired full time in 2007 to handle graphic design and manage its website. By 2008, his role had shifted to include the burgeoning world of social media engagement. He launched a Facebook page and Twitter account and frequently found himself handling customer-service issues. He loved reading positive Yelp reviews about the St. Louis Brewery restaurants, but he was just as happy to see a bad review.

“I would get so excited because I figured there’s always an opportunity to turn that around,” Brodsky said.

The brewery had been growing since 1991, when Tom Schlafly and Dan Kopman opened the Schlafly Tap Room brewpub in downtown St. Louis. Its second brewpub, Schlafly Bottleworks, opened in Maplewood in 2003, and Brodsky’s creative skills came in handy. He handled video and design work for a museum of St. Louis brewing history that was in residence at the Bottleworks from its opening until last year.

During a beer industry blogger conference in Portland, Ore., Brodsky met Potter, a charming young woman who was running the event. Potter had worked as a yoga instructor, a skill that would come in handy after she moved to St. Louis to join Brodsky. In 2014, he proposed marriage. It was at a particularly tumultuous period in Brodsky’s life. He says the Schlafly brewery was growing and getting more bureaucratic, and his father was dying after a long bout with brain cancer.

Troika figured, why not add to the stress by planning a marriage and, for good measure, a new career?

First was the Brewers Guild and planning the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival. Then came Yoga Buzz, which Brodsky and Potter formed to tap into the popularity of yoga. The company was formed in 2014 and incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in early 2015.

Brodsky and Potter set out to make yoga more accessible, particularly to underserved markets. It was a good fit because Potter had experience teaching yoga, and skills in community building. Brodsky supplied the marketing savvy and promotion ideas. He knew his way around a craft brewery, so they started out by pairing yoga with a tour and tasting at the Schlafly Tap Room. The event sold out, and Yoga Buzz was off and running.

“We figured we were on to something, so we planned a few more events at other breweries, and they all sold out,” Brodsky said. “We determined that we could do yoga with any experiential event.

“You just need a cool space for a yoga class and something experiential. It could be a brewery tour, it might be a chocolate brunch on the rooftop of Bissinger’s, or yoga with live music at the planetarium. The whole point is about accessibility.”

Building a brand

Yoga purists might find the mix with beer or chocolate perplexing, but Brodsky said there are two schools of thought. One suggests that your body is a temple, so guilty pleasures like a glass of wine or a delectable dessert are a no-no. The tantric side says you should be responsible, but you can take pleasure in things and combine it with spirituality. 

“The approach Elle takes is it’s OK to take a yoga class and have this cleansing healthy experience, and follow it with a glass of wine, and meet people, that social aspect that life is to be savored, and that’s something I ascribe to,” he said.

Brodsky also enjoys having fun, food and drink with his pals. That’s one of the reasons he was drawn to Ices Plain & Fancy, the shop near Tower Grove Park that he started with a group of friends. It serves flash-churned ice cream using liquid nitrogen at minus 321 degrees.

Brodsky seems to thrive in the eye of a storm. He’s a whirling dervish who seamlessly moves from one meeting (beer) to another (yoga) to a third (ice cream).

Potter said being partners in business with her husband works well because the two balance each other out.

“Entrepreneurs can be expanders or containers,” she said. “Troika and I, when one of us starts expanding ideas, the other one is the container and says, ‘You’ve gone too far.’ Sometimes Troika helps me get clear about my intention and my direction, but other times it means that he ends up giving me a list to do that I otherwise wouldn’t have thought of.”

Brodsky has his own perspective on his burgeoning empire of businesses.

“I really love the idea of ownership, because the victories are mine,” he said. “If things aren’t getting done, that’s on me. At the same time, if things are going really well, there’s a real feeling of pride. I enjoy working on things that are mine.”