The Scoop on MilkMade

There are a few of us at The Pretty Blog that love nothing more than a scoop of good old-fashioned craft ice-cream. If you’re like one of us, then you’re going to love the concept behind New York start-up, MilkMade.

A few weeks ago Christine and I met up with Diana, the founder of MilkMade, a New York-based craft ice-cream company. MilkMade offers monthly ice-cream membership. They make craft ice-cream sourcing their ingredients from local farmers and hand-deliver pints to your home or office.

They make two unique flavours each month. Previous flavours have included Potpourri, Raven Red Velvet, Dirty Banana and German Chocolate Cake – which is no ordinary chocolate ice-cream and is made up of dark chocolate from Mast Brothers, toasted buttery pecans, and rum-spiked coconut caramel sauce. Christine and I were lucky enough to chat to Diana about her business, how she started it and what lies ahead for MilkMade. Needless to say this conversation was all done over some sampling of Diana’s decadent scream (as she affectionately refers to it).

How did you stumble upon the idea of starting a craft ice-cream business?

I didn’t have any business pursuits in mind. Rather, I just wanted a better pint. After years of buying a pint a night from my local bodega, I realised I was left increasingly unsatisfied. Pints had shrunk in size, what was once ‘natural’ could no longer be labeled as such, and flavours weren’t aligned with my more adventurous palette. So I took matters into my own hands. In the summer of 2009, I bought a tiny ice cream maker, got in touch with local farmers and began foraging for local ingredients. I took some of my homemade ice-cream to a birthday party and everyone there couldn’t stop raving about it. The following week the phone started ringing off the hook. Everyone wanted a pint of my homemade scream. I quickly set up a website and started collecting email addresses of potential customers. I then rented a commercial kitchen in Long Island City and launched MilkMade’s monthly ice-cream membership at the end of 2009.

 MilkMade has created quite a stir, tell us how it has grown since its conception in 2009?

When we initially launched we sold our scream at food markets and fairs. The good news spread far and wide and soon lots of people were talking about us. Our ice-cream membership started with just 50 members in my East Village neighbourhood, soon expanded to the West Village, then all of Manhattan and Brooklyn. We now serve the greater New York City area. We have a capped ice-cream membership at this stage as our operations can only cater for a certain volume. However, we are looking at expansion opportunities as our waiting list grows. We also have people on our worldwide waiting list who can’t wait for us to start delivering internationally. We’re looking into this.

How do you make it all happen, and what inspires new ideas and flavours?

We produce and deliver ice-cream one week per month. The rest of the month is spent doing admin, looking for inspiration for new flavours and sourcing the best local ingredients. I spend hours walking through markets looking for seasonal ingredients and meeting with local producers. It’s important to us that the very best ingredients are used to make our scream. I also get inspiration from my friends and family who are known to send me text messages in the middle of the night suggesting flavours I should make. Our members have also played a part in creating flavours, for example, our rainbow cookie flavour was inspired by one of our members.

So what’s next for MilkMade?

We’re looking at expanding our operations on various fronts. We’ve also recently burst onto the wedding scene and created a bespoke ice-cream flavour for a wedding couple. The wedding guests loved it! We’re also doing lots of ice-cream socials for corporates. All I can say is that we’re growing fast, so keep an eye out for us!

Part of MilkMade‘s appeal is that the ice-cream gets delivered to your door, and delivering ice-cream before it melts must be quite a challenge?

We have a few Milkmade girls who help us with our deliveries. We try and keep it green by delivering on bikes, by foot or even skateboards. We sometimes use the subway. The girls carry a few pints at a time in their backpacks with lots of dry ice. One day we hope to have some specially designed backpacks that bare our branding, but for now, we’re keeping it lean in terms of costs.