How to launch a vegan ice cream company | Food & Drink Feature | Chicago Reader

How to launch a vegan ice cream company 

And how not to.

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click to enlarge The JUSTice Squad - @JUSTICECREAMSHOP
  • The JUSTice Squad
  • @justicecreamshop

Maybe you heard about the launch and abrupt crash last weekend of  Peachy Vegan Ice Cream, a popsicle cart that announced its arrival on Instagram in the shadow of the Illinois Centennial Monument in Logan Square. The owner, John Lawrence Geary, was swiftly run off the Square by virtual outcry denouncing him as a gentrifier encroaching on the turf of the paleteros who've been rolling default vegan pops in the neighborhood since forever.

Meanwhile, last Friday at Buckingham Fountain, the folks behind JUSTice Cream were handing out samples of their vegan ABOLECHE ICE (tres leches cake and strawberry swirl) and Fudge the Police (CBD-infused, mint cookie-vanilla with fudge) to protestors. According to founder Hialy Gutierrez, they were well received, at least until the shit hit the fan.


click to enlarge Fudge the Police - @JUSTICECREAMSHOP
  • Fudge the Police
  • @justicecreamshop

Gutierrez teamed up with marketing specialist Nicolette Stanton, food operations specialist Thalia Ramirez, and recipe developer Janice Belen this year to launch JUSTice, a not-for-profit, all-vegan ice cream operation that donates its profits to grassroots social justice organizations, each one corresponding to a particular flavor. ABOLECHE ICE will help fund Organized Communities Against Deportations. Fudge the Police supports Black Lives Matter. Fried Dough Kahlo (coffee base with churros and a chocolate-coffee swirl) will back Art Resistance Through Education. Purple Root for Domestic Workers (ube, aka purple yam) will benefit the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment. Reparalines and Cream (butter pecan base with cognac-infused praline sauce) supports the Chicago Torture Justice Center.

"The project started back in 2017 but really took off this year when I started a fellowship through the New Leaders Council," Gutierrez wrote in an e-mail. "JUSTice Cream was my capstone. I met Nicolette while we were traveling in Brazil back in 2006, and I met Thalia and Janice about a year ago through mutual friends. Nicolette has significant experience with strategy and storytelling, and is a leader in her community on the south side. She advises on media content and outreach. Janice is trained in the culinary arts, and has over a decade of experience making ice cream. Thalia has worked in consumer packaged goods, so helps out in an administrative support capacity. I have a background in ice cream making (haha, it was my first job at 14), engineering, public health, and criminology (from a liberation perspective), so this was kind of the product of all of those experiences."

There's no plan to open a brick and mortar (or pushcart), but they'll distribute through c0-ops and pop-ups, and when they reach their GoFundMe goal they'll ramp up to shipping. In the meantime, on Saturday July 25 from noon to 2 PM, they'll be holding a fundraiser for their nonprofit partners at Demera Ethiopian Restaurant in Uptown, selling all five flavors for $5 a scoop; $8 for two.

Meanwhile, the Peachy Vegan Ice Cream popsicle cart has been mothballed, according to Block Club, and Geary is planning to retrench in a brick-and-mortar space, next to the Logan Square Auditorium (awfully close to Pretty Cool Ice Cream's turf).  v

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