Strat Chat | Lindsay's Handmade Ice Cream
Updated: Jan 27, 2021
I scream, you scream, we all scream.... A LOT more often right now. There's a lot to be frustrated about! But do you know what helps pandemic fatigue? The original 'scream for:' ice cream.
Google data show that comfort food has dominated COVID-19 diets - as it should! For our third installment of Strat Chat: Small Business Edition, we sat down with someone who is capitalizing on this trend, Lindsay Grega, the Connecticut-based ice cream impresario behind Lindsay's Handmade. And allow us to "pint" out that with flavors like Life Changing Vanilla and the Notorious RBG (Rosemary-Blueberry-Goat Cheese), you'll fall in love with her flavors and her flavor.
What is Lindsay’s Handmade?
Lindsay's Handmade is a line of small batch artisanal premium ice cream. Using fresh ingredients and eclectic combinations of flavors, every batch is naturally flavored and most of the add-ins are homemade (except Oreos, because hello, Oreos.)
Why did you decide to start your own company?
I started making ice cream during the quarantine in Spring 2020. I was bored with the available selections of ice cream, and decided to be creative, making ice cream out of unusual things. The resounding response from friends & neighbors was "why aren't you selling this?"
How did you know you were ready for such a move?
I received such amazing support and encouragement from friends, so I thought to myself "maybe I CAN do this. If I can do what I love and make some money and make people happy...what could possibly be better than that?"
Why ice cream?
Once I started playing around with different flavors, I realized the endless possibilities that go so far beyond what we see at the everyday scoop shop. I challenged myself to see if I could make ice cream out of different things, and now it has become somewhat of an obsession.
And your trademark?
Ha, yes. I pretty much walk through the supermarket seeing everything through the lens of "can this be made into ice cream?"
Tell us about your flavors!
I launched my website with a few flavors, mainly holiday favorites that I love, and flavors which I think will appeal to a lot of people. My favorite is goat cheese ice cream with candied figs & honey. Goat cheese is an amazingly luxurious base for ice cream and lends itself to so many flavor combinations. I've made goat cheese ice cream with cranberry jam, with blueberries and rosemary, with sour cherry preserves (all homemade) and I have so many more ideas. I love infusing ice cream bases with spices like saffron, or fresh herbs. One of my most popular flavors, Chocolate Frosted Donut, was adapted from a recipe by a pastry chef whose book I am in love with. I like to look at various desserts and figure out a way to adapt them to flavor ice cream.
Is your ice cream REALLY handmade?
It IS! The base is always milk, cream, and sugar. Sometimes egg yolks, depending on the flavors I'm using. I love using fresh products to flavor it, not canned or artificial flavoring. And making sauces and swirls and add-ins like toffee from scratch...the outcome is so worth the extra time and effort. I'm still working on getting caramel right.
Have you adapted your business model or offerings since you launched? If so, why?
I had to scale my recipes from making 1 quart batches to 6 quart batches. One tool that most commercial ice cream makers use is a pre-mixed unflavored base that comes in a big pouch. It is a fully pasteurized blend of milk, cream, sweetener and stabilizer, and a flavoring of some kind is added. I had initially been opposed to this because they often contain additives that people don't want to see in an artisanal product. Luckily, I have been able to source a completely clean base mix that only uses pure cane sugar instead of corn syrup, and plant based stabilizers like pectin and tapioca starch.
Da Real MBT (Maple Bacon Toffee) The G.O.A.T. Chocolate Frosted Donut
Game of Cones
What aspects of your business have been most exciting?
I am so excited to be able to offer "outside of the box" flavors that people don't expect to find in ice cream. I've tested so many recipes and can't wait to share them with the public. Cantaloupe, for example, makes an outstanding ice cream! I love to be able to use whatever is in season to keep things fresh and exciting. Seeing how HAPPY people are when they pick up their ice cream also makes my day!
What challenges have you endured?
Well, my business took off extremely quickly, which I was completely unprepared for. I had orders of over 400 pints in less than a month. I don't (yet) have the equipment to produce this much ice cream, so I have to rent a privately owned production facility which is inconvenient and very expensive. I can't WAIT to have my own production space, where I can tinker and play with flavors.
Do you have an all time favorite flavor that you’ve done?
I think it's the "Notorious RBG", or Rosemary, Blueberry, Goat cheese. The first time I made it, I literally screamed when I tasted it because it was so good.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Cocktails, desserts, pastries, cheese plates, friends. I made an AMAZING apple fritter ice cream last fall that a friend jokingly suggested, and it turned out to be incredible. Sometimes I just wander through a farmers' market or ethnic market and find inspiration there. I try to use local producers whenever possible and look forward to collaborating with the many amazing small businesses and farms in the area to create new flavors.
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about ice cream?
That the flavor possibilities are endless, and can even be savory or spicy. I made a sweet and savory corn ice cream with jalapenos that was mind blowing.
Livin' The Cream
How do you define success for your business - and yourself?
When people tell me "this is the best ice cream I've ever had", I feel like a success! I think when I have my own location, a sustainable business, happy employees and happy customers, I will feel like a dream has been achieved.
What guidance can you offer other entrepreneurs looking to start a company right now?
Dream big, but start small. There is so much uncertainty in the future, so be cautious, be flexible, and not afraid to take risks. There are also SO many great resources for small businesses-look to your state or city departments of economic development, SBA, SCORE, and Chambers of Commerce for guidance and education.
The New Year is upon us! What’s next for Lindsay’s Handmade?
My goal for 2021 is to obtain funding to build out my own production space, continue offering pints and when it's safe to do so, have a small scoop shop where people can taste the latest creations. I also want to host parties where people can make their own batch of ice cream with whatever flavors they can dream of!
Strat House is an experience company. We specialize in strategy, design and content, delivering b2b results that change, engage and enrage (when necessary).
Strat Chat is our weekly Q&A series with product, marketing & event professionals. We discuss business and pleasure with the industry's best - plus get a little personal.
If you missed the first businesses we profiled in this series, it's not too late! For more comfort food of pandemic proportion, check out our chat with Mikey's Short N' Sweet cookies. And read all about how Abbott Road Designs is sustaining celebration amid the current climate.