Ice cream is my undisputed, favorite food on the planet. I grew up in a family of ice cream lovers. My grandfather worked in the super market industry his whole life and introduced us to Brigham's at birth. My whole family can tell you why the butter fat content of Brigham's is what gives it that extra creamy taste. All three generations of Gallers and Goldmans are ice cream fanatics.
When I heard there was a new ice cream company right here in Boston and it was being run by a 17 year old girl, I knew right away I had to meet her. This entrepreneur is Grace Connor and she is the founder of little g ice cream co.
Grace is currently on summer vacation and will be a senior in high school this fall. She has grown up in Boston her entire life, living first in Beacon Hill and now residing in the South End. I met Grace at Caffe Nero on Tremont Street to hear all about the business.
PBS: Tell me, how did little g ice cream co. get started?
GC: Well, I actually started with baking. I always loved to bake and eventually I started a business. Nothing official, just taking special requests and making them in my house. I would do birthday cakes for family and friends and then eventually I started getting orders from friends of friends of friends. Once I had a college student interested in 100 cupcakes!
Since I was doing so much baking, I started experimenting with mixing those baked goods into ice cream. I tested the concept with a few of my customers who had ordered cakes or cupcakes and the response was really positive.
PBS: Once you knew there was an interest in ice cream, what was the next step?
GC: I don't have a backer or an investor, so I knew I needed to be smart about my start up costs. I found CommonWealth Kitchen in Dorchester and reached out to them about renting space for the business. I was having a hard time getting in touch with anyone, so one night I just showed up. I was lucky that a janitor was coming out of the building and he let me in. I found the manager and begged him to let me rent space. He invited me to come formally pitch my idea the next day. So I ran home and spent all night making all of my flavors so I could return and show them what I was capable of. Luckily I was accepted.
PBS: Once you had the space at CommonWealth Kitchen, could you hit the ground running?
GC: It took about six months to get all the permits, machines and equipment I needed. I officially started selling in January 2016.
I was lucky that through other entrepreneurs in the kitchen I met the designer who would eventually create my logo. I told her pink was my favorite color and she did the rest from there. She created my logo and all of my labels (pictured below on the Sea Salt Chocolate flavor).
PBS: Your ice cream is sold in several stores around Boston. How did you make that happen?
GC: No one in my family is in the food service industry, so I had no contacts. I just had Google and my iPhone. I started researching independent grocery stores in Boston to see if anyone would be willing to sell my ice cream. The first store was Siena Farms in the South End. They sold out everything I brought them in the first week.
The second store willing to stock my ice cream was Bee's Knees in Allston. They actually had an entire freezer that was just my ice cream.
Then I was able to get into Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge. It's been going so well that they actually just quadrupled their order.
PBS: Do you make and deliver all the ice cream yourself?
GC: I do. During the school year I try to get to the kitchen every day by 3:00pm. I bake all the mix ingredients myself like cookies and brownies. I even make the snack mix that is stirred into one of my favorite flavors, Snack Attack. I caramelize the pretzels, potato chips and butter crackers so that they taste almost like candied nuts.
I make all the ice cream bases too. As far as delivery goes, I pack all the ice cream and then my dad helps me by driving me to make deliveries to stores. We also deliver to the Boston area on Saturdays and Sundays. I pack up all the coolers and my dad drives.
PBS: I am sure this is like asking you to pick a favorite child, but do you have a favorite flavor?
GC: I would have to say the Triple Cookie Dough. Growing up Cookie Dough was always my favorite flavor of ice cream no matter where I was ordering from or buying from. In my version there are three varieties of cookie dough - chocolate chip, double chocolate chip and sugar cookie - which makes it different, but it still has a lot of the same characteristics as the classic that people know.
PBS: I know you change your flavors seasonally. What's next?
GC: Well, right now I have a strawberry shortcake flavor since strawberries are in season.
I am definitely thinking ahead to fall and will be trying some new flavors that play up the apple and pumpkin flavors people look forward to at that time of year.
PBS: Now that you're in three stores and making local deliveries, what's next for little g ice cream co.?
GC: A few things. My ultimate goal is to be able to ship nationally. I am looking into what type of packaging and shipping materials would be needed to do that successful.
I am also hoping to get my ice cream into one, two or three gallon containers so it can be served at scoop shops.
PBS: With all this success, will you put off college to keep running the business?
GC: College is really important to me. I may take a gap year so that the business is totally up and running before I move away to school. I'd like it to be in a place where I am not hand packing all the ice cream by myself!
PBS: Other than in stores, where else can Bostonians look forward to seeing you?
GC: I am trying to do as many events as I can this summer. I'll be scooping at the WGBH Ice Cream Festival this Saturday, July 16th.
PBS: You can see Grace at the WGBH Ice Cream Festival this Saturday from 10am - 4pm or you can pick up your own pints at Siena Farms in the South End, Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge or at Green Line Growers in Brookline. You can also place an order for delivery. Grace and her dad deliver on Saturdays and Sundays between 1pm - 6pm. You just have to be home to accept the delivery.
Grace was kind enough to send me home from our meeting with four flavors - Snack Attack, Sea Salt Chocolate, Strawberry Shortcake and Birthday Cake. My favorite thing about Grace's ice cream is that every single flavor with mix ins is packed with goodies. Usually when you order a mix in flavor like Cookie Dough or Oreo you are praying you get a piece of cookie dough or Oreo in say, every other bite. With little g ice cream co. you get a serious dose of treats in every single bite. Check out how much cake is in her Birthday Cake flavor.
The Birthday Cake flavor was one of my favorites. It tastes like a frozen version of Funfetti cake, which is one of world's best inventions.
The Snack Attack flavor mixes M&Ms, Reese's peanut butter cups, pretzels, potato chips and butter crackers. It has a very creamy vanilla bean ice cream as its base. I was expecting a bit more crunch from the salty ingredients, but I still enjoyed the overall taste of this junk food masterpiece.
The Sea Salt Chocolate has a rich, pure chocolate flavor. The sea salt taste is actually quite subtle. As I ate more and more bites of this one I kept thinking how yummy it would taste with crushed pretzels or crushed graham crackers on top. I also think it would make a terrific base for a s'mores sundae.
I tried the Strawberry Shortcake flavor last. As most of you know, I'm really not a fruit dessert person. That being said, Grace does an excellent job of transforming the traditional strawberry shortcake into frozen form. In every bite you can taste the buttery pound cake and the fresh berries. This would be the perfect dessert after a beach day and a grill dinner on the deck.
I am totally smitten with little g ice cream co. Grace has developed winning recipes and inspires me with her tenacity and drive. Purchase a pint of little g ice cream this week and let me know what you think!