“The real highlight of the journey so far, though, has been working together and building a team around the brand. Seeing our relationship evolve and strengthen and adding new passionate friends to the team has been incredibly rewarding” –Katy & Gwen
The career paths of Katy and Gwen, co-founders of Beckon Ice Cream, took an unexpected industry twist when they decided to go ahead with their plans of bringing a tasty new and unique lactose-free ice cream to the market. Prior to the founding of Beckon Ice Cream, the two friends were in complete different industries. Katy worked as a nurse in the Pediatric ICU Department at Georgetown Hospital and later in the medical ICU and Cardiology Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital. Being lactose intolerant herself, Katy went on to say: “My nursing education helped me understand what lactose intolerance is, what my body was missing, and how lactose-free foods could solve this problem. I was able to leverage what I learned in chemistry, anatomy, and physiology classes to help create Beckon’s patented process "Gwen worked in the Marketing industry for a beauty company. With her interest in entrepreneurship and her deep love for ice cream, Gwen loved the idea of starting up Beckon Ice Cream with Katy. She went on to say: “Our shared passions provided that extra push and (wo)man power to get the idea off the ground” Growing up, Katy loved the sweet, creamy taste of ice cream, but upon her realization that she was lactose intolerant, she had to settle for alternatives which all lacked the real taste of dairy ice cream, leaving her ice cream cravings unsatisfied. Inspired by their combined love for ice cream and given the fact that 25% of Americans are lactose intolerant, Katy and Gwen created the Beckon Ice Cream brand, the only premium lactose-free ice cream made from fresh milk and cream. “We are truly unique because we’re the only premium ice cream brand that is made from fresh milk and cream and completely lactose free. We add a natural enzyme to our clean label dairy ice cream to remove the lactose and get every batch tested before it goes into stores”.
Starting up Beckon Ice Cream was quite the challenge for both, as they made the transition from health and beauty into the food industry. Together, they learned the ins and outs of producing food products, getting it to shelf and how to raise capital to start up your own business. They said: “One of the first things we did was go to the store and make a list of small, independent food companies that we admired. Then, we found their contact information either on their packaging or online and cold-called the founders. We were amazed at how many of them responded and offered to take our call. From speaking with those founders about how they got started, their advice and watch-outs, we were able to piece together consistencies to make our roadmap”. During Katy’s time as a nurse, she attended the famous Penn State Ice Cream short course where she was able to learn more about manufacturing ice cream. The first few steps Katy and Gwen took towards starting up Beckon Ice Cream was the selling of their ice cream every Sunday at the Farmers Marketing Boston, after spending every Saturday making ice cream all day. During this process, the pair continuously applied for small business grants so that they could finally bring their business to life.
Proudly, after 6 months, they secured their first retail account. Seeing their ice cream on the shelves at Whole Foods Market, a national retailer overwhelmed them with excitement and tears of joy: “We were all over the place. It was so exciting to see our pints on the shelves of a national retailer that we both shop at!” Today, the Beckon Ice Cream line includes 7 classic flavors. (See them below at our favorite questions!) The Inspiration Behind the Company’s Name A unique lactose-free ice cream brand has to pair with a unique name right? Katy and Gwen decided on the name “Beckon” given the fact that it was their “calling” (pun intended!) and because they are beckoning everyone back to the real deal ice cream.
Our Favorite Questions
What advice do you have for women out there who are aspiring to start their own business one day?
“Try to begin with the end in mind. It will help you stay focused and make decisions easier. Also, don’t feel like you have to say “yes” to every opportunity, like you may never get one again. We don’t like to disappoint people, so we were saying yes to everything and running ourselves ragged. This year we implemented a rule: the answer is always no, unless there is a really good reason why it’s yes. This has helped us pause, take a step back, and ask whether the opportunity is in line with our goals or is just a distraction”
As entrepreneurs yourselves, what do you think are the top 3 traits or skills one should have to start-up/run a business?
“Leading with Vulnerability -Empathy, compassion and authenticity are so critical in being a good leader and it’s something that women do especially well. We’re still on our leadership journey but love this lesson we got from Brene Brown. Surrounding yourself with intelligent people who have been there --Sometimes it is impossible to see beyond your most recent struggle. Having someone in your corner who has been where you are AND has gotten to where you want to go is invaluable because they can offer perspective that you can’t see in your current situation. Working for your Team -Someone once told us that your team doesn’t work for you, you work for your team. This is great advice because when you give your best, you get their best and you push yourself further than you thought you could go.”
How many flavors does Beckon Ice Cream currently have and which one is the bestseller?
“The Beckon Ice Cream line includes seven classic flavors: Vanilla, Peanut Butter Cup (upcycled with UNREAL peanut butter cups), Sea Salt Chocolate Chip (a serendipitous accident), Cookies & Sweet Cream, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Dark Chocolate Brownie, and Mint Chip. We also recently launched NEW Snack Cups: perfectly portioned indulgences with tasty toppings underneath the lid. Snack Cups are available in three flavors: Vanilla with Sprinkles, Dark Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Cookie Gems, and Mint Chip with Chocolate Creme Cookie Crumble. Our most popular flavors include: Vanilla, Cookies & Sweet Cream, and Sea Salt Chocolate chip with Peanut Butter Cup on the rise, and all of the Snack Cups have been a hit so far! Personally, we currently love our new Snack Cups and our new and upcycled Peanut Butter Cup flavor”
Is there anything else you’d like people to know?
“We love hearing from our fans and new customers! We take our customer feedback very seriously, and want to know what everyone's thinking. Have a new flavor idea? Want us to partner with a brand you love? Send it to us! If you haven’t tried us yet, make sure to give us a follow on social media and check us out at Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, Fresh Direct, Go Puff, and more”
“So many people who are lactose intolerant have fallen to alternatives that just don’t taste like the real thing, and now they can finally indulge in what they’re truly craving” –Katy & Gwen, Co-founders of Beckon Ice Cream.