Our Community Spotlights feature all the wonderful food, nightlife, and local businesses found within Douglass Park, home to Riot Fest. Join us throughout the year as the Riot Fest staff recommends their favorite spots in the neighborhood on a continuing basis—in hopes that you’ll make a stop in Douglass Park before, during, and well after the fest concludes.
In the heart of North Lawndale, Ida’s Ice Cream has become a local sensation, offering over 75 delectable flavors crafted with love and creativity. We sat down with Ida herself to learn more about the inspiration behind her ice cream business and the challenges she overcame to turn her passion into a thriving enterprise.
What made you start an ice cream business?
I love Ice cream and it was my children’s pastime. We would have to go outside our community. My children would ask, “why do we have to leave the community to get ice cream?” That was a planting of the seed; then fast forward. I had purchased an ice cream machine to start projects with my kids during Covid-19 lockdown and the day after the ice cream machine arrived, I lost my job. And then, the thing I was spending time doing, I was going to do full time.
It felt like a joke in a way. I did not imagine the type of success I would have, but apparently my children, other friends, and family members knew that this would happen from the very beginning. So that’s how I kinda got started. In my North Lawndale home I learned how to make my first flavor which was vanilla. From there the next flavor was banana pudding and then blueberry cheesecake. I just let the community taste and they loved it. Within two months of learning how to make ice cream, I launched a business.
On your website it says that you can pick up or have delivery. Is your ice cream being sold at certain locations or is it just pick up and delivery?
It’s pick up or delivery and, of course, the relationship I have with the Museum of Ice Cream and a few hotels. You can order it online and schedule it for delivery. It’s typically delivered on the weekends.
How many flavors of ice cream do you have right now?
I have over 75 flavors of ice cream that I know how to make.
What is one of your favorite ice cream flavors that you’ve made so far?
My favorite flavor that I’ve made so far is Butter Pecan. It’s one of my favorites to eat, but my favorite flavor to make is Lemon blueberry cheesecake. It’s so decadent, so pretty, and it looks like art. Everybody who tastes that ice cream gets obsessed with it.
Which one is your favorite one to eat on a Friday night?
Turtle Cheesecake, but everyone’s favorite is vanilla pudding and blueberry basil lime (BBL) which is dairy-free and delicious. The blueberry basil lime is on a coconut cream base. It is smooth, creamy, and flavorful, which is something you don’t get out of a vegan flavor ice cream. We also have other 12 vegan flavors.
How many flavors do you have at the Museum of Ice Cream
7 flavors and they change the flavors each month, some stay consistent. They vary and have 2 vegan flavors.
Where do you see yourself in five years and where do you see Ida’s Ice Cream?
Within 5 years, this would be an international conquerment. Within the next year, we will have an ice cream shop built in North Lawndale. We are working on expanding outside of the city, then outside the state, and then the country.
What is your best advice for someone who wants to start a business?
My advice for people who want to start their own business is to have a business plan because it is your road map. It is your blueprint for what you are going to do and how you are going to do it.
I would say, do something that you love and enjoy doing. I love what I do, I spend my afternoon at the Ice Cream Museum chatting it up with you and this is work. I love creating. I love the expressions on people’s faces when they try something my hands made. I love being able to provide for my family. Do something that you love, something that gives you a sense of pride.
Also, I would tell people who are looking to start their businesses to tap into as many resources for information as they can find. Don’t go for people who are asking for money. Go ask 4 or 5 people because if you ask for money you get advice, you ask for advice you’ll get money.
What was one of your challenges when you began your business?
Being under-resourced is a big challenge for any upcoming entrepreneur, it’s especially difficult for people who come from an economic disadvantage. Where we are already so far behind the line, it takes so much to get ahead of our business. I did not have any business acumen. I didn’t have the funding to purchase the things that I needed like equipment and materials. When I made the ice cream in my home for about a year and a half I had freezers everywhere and fuses blowing everywhere. It was a nightmare.
But I understood the vision of my business and believed in myself, so it was essential to create resources that empower my local community: the North Lawndale Community.
It was important to me to be a beacon of hope to others and in marginalized spaces. Such as the space I felt I was in such as a single mom, as an African-American woman coming from a space where unemployment, violence, and crimes are high. Those are just the things that everyone highlights, but I also want to highlight and be a reflection of what good can come from that broken place.
I want to show people that it does not matter where you are from, it doesn’t matter who you are. What matters is your desire to achieve and your desire to be a part of the solution. That’s more what I focus on even when the times get hard. I focus on what the intended outcome is and not on my weakness. And for me, the reason what I do is to create the resources for the community. Great resources that you any one in our community could use. Good products, good ice cream, or just a beacon of hope–whichever of those. That’s what I am trying to do.
Exciting news for ice cream enthusiasts! Ida’s Ice Cream is set to open its store in late spring 2024/early summer. Get ready to indulge in a world of unique and delicious flavors right in the heart of North Lawndale.
While we can patiently wait for the big opening, we highly suggest ordering online on their website Ida’s Artisan. They have vegan options and trust us they are addicting! Also, make sure to purchase a ticket and visit the Museum of Ice Cream located in Magnificent Mile to try Ida’s flavors.