How Two College Roommates Turned a Food Allergy Into a Superfood Ice Cream
Women food entrepreneurs and makers are making waves in the industry by developing delish sweets that are successful. In our How to Quit Your Day Job series, we’ve gotten the inside scoop on how Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Guru Natalia Butler landed her dream gig, learned how Sugarfina co-founder Rosie O’Neill made her candy-land fantasy a reality, and discovered how one former lawyer’s pie-making hobby became her full-time job. Now, we chat with Rachel Geicke and Mariana Ferreira, the co-founders of Snow Monkey, an allergy-friendly ice cream that they once whipped up in their college dorm.
Meet the Ice Cream Pros: Rachel Geicke & Mariana Ferreira
In 2015, Rachel Geicke and Mariana Ferreira were roommates at Boston University who made batches of superfood protein ice cream that Geicke, who has severe food allergies, could eat. Calculating the nutrition profile of their frozen dessert was part of the equation for launching a Kickstarter campaign to get the treat out to consumers. The campaign was fully funded in four days, and the duo moved forward with bringing their pints to market. The Santa Monica-based company’s products recently became available to buy at Kroger grocery stores in the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, and Denver, with five delicious vegan- and paleo-friendly flavors currently on shelves: Cacao, Açaí Berry, Cinnamon, Passionfruit, and Matcha Green Tea. Here, Geicke and Ferreira share how their dorm room dessert became a big business.
Brit + Co: What’s your morning routine?
Rachel Geicke: I wake up, do a short meditation (breath work, if I have time), prep my post workout shake, train, walk the pup, and work. I shower too.
Mariana Ferreira: I wake up, check my phone (automatic response!), stretch, prep my bag, put on gym clothes, and go work out. And coffee.
B+C: What inspired you to start your company?
RG: I’m a lifelong athlete with serious food allergies. There was no tasty frozen treat that fit my nutritional needs and dietary restrictions. Snow Monkey was originally created to solve a personal problem; however, once we realized that countless Americans are in an unhealthy relationship with ice cream, we felt compelled to bring Snow Monkey to market. We believe that nutritious and delicious can go hand in hand, so we’re on a mission to reinvent ice cream for America and help people make healthier choices.
MF: I think there is a lack of education on what it means to eat well. Part of that is the responsibility of food companies to provide nutritious, natural products. I hope we can be part of the solution. Also, by showing how goods like ours do well, we want to inspire the brands that aren’t providing healthy options to follow the trend.
B+C: How do you challenge yourself as an entrepreneur?
RG: Every day is a challenge, but I love it. We’re a young team, trying to compete with giant food conglomerates with a fraction of the budget. So we are constantly learning, fighting fires, throwing Hail Marys, and doing whatever it takes to reach our goals.
MF: Managing risk, stress, and time management [is my challenge]. I am always looking for ways to check in with myself and ensure I am showing up for my company, my family, and myself. It’s a careful and delicate balance, but on the weeks where I am able to do it well, it feels like I am on top of the world and I am pleased I am able to be there for everyone else in my life too.
B+C: Tell us about how your family and friends help support your business.
RG: My father is my number-one supporter. He inspires me to chase my dreams and always shares thoughtful advice. I ditched corporate plans to pursue Snow Monkey, which was incredibly risky. There were plenty of dark moments during the early days, and I wouldn’t be here without the early support, product feedback, and encouragement from family and friends.
MF: My family is an amazing support system. They are always excited for Snow Monkey’s wins, offer their ear if I ever have concerns, and help me troubleshoot or make connections whenever possible. Without them, this wouldn’t be possible for me. My close friends are also very supportive by sharing Snow Monkey with others, supporting our online sales, and celebrating wins with me.
B+C: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
RG: I like a David Bowie quote: “Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.” I’m a visionary, and this reminds me to focus on my skill and build a diverse team with complementary skill sets so we can divide and conquer.
MF: “Don’t look down.” Starting something new — be it a venture, a project, etc. — there are so many things to do at once, and it’s important to remind yourself to focus on the task at hand and see it through before moving on.
B+C: What do you love about your job?
RG: Snow Monkey delivers an authentic solution that benefits our community on a large scale. I love watching how pleasantly surprised consumers are when they try Snow Monkey for the first time. They can’t believe that such a healthy ice cream alternative tastes great. Or hearing stories from consumers about how Snow Monkey has allowed them to eat ice cream again.
MF: Learning. I am such a nerd, and I love knowledge: sharing it, having it, expanding it — all of it. Entrepreneurship lets me learn, teach, and do, all at the same time. For me, that’s a dream come true.
B+C: Name two female heroes who you think should get a shout-out.
B+C: If you could tell aspiring creative women anything, what would it be?
RG: Prioritize self-care, because it will allow you to deliver optimal work to your project or business.
MF: Never be afraid to be unabashedly yourself. And if that rubs someone the wrong way, don’t apologize.
What’s your dream career? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know, and we could feature it in the next column!
(Photos via Snow Monkey)