Almost 10 years ago, Danielle Jowdy left her mother’s home with a hand-crank ice cream maker, one that held fond memories from her childhood. She brought it back to Philadelphia and began making ice cream for parties with friends and family. Her first attempt – pumpkin ice cream – is still on the lineup of seasonal flavors you’ll find from Zsa’s today. Over the next few years, Danielle’s weekend ice cream hobby quickly gained enough momentum to become a full time business for herself and co-founder/fiance, Parker Whitehead. After chatting with Danielle, here’s the short and sweet on the ins and outs of small business and what makes good ice cream.
Who’s working behind the scenes?
Danielle oversees production, scheduling, kitchen work, orders and private events. Parker’s background in industrial design equipped him to manage their web presence and design work, while also maintaining their 2 ice cream trucks and ice cream cart.
What took Zsa’s from hobby to full-time business?
Between 2009 and 2011 the company where Danielle held her “9-5” job was experiencing lay offs and rehires, so she used her free time to research how to grow a weekend ice cream making hobby into a full time gig. She found a commercial kitchen and was using a bakery after hours to produce ice cream for weekend farmers markets. It was clear that to make an ice cream business viable year round, she would need to sell wholesale and distribute locally. Then came Gatsby.
Easily considered the mascot of Zsa’s, Gatsby is a 1963 International Harvester Metro Van turned ice cream truck. Parker surprised Danielle with the van-turned-ice-cream-truck to kick start the business. You’ll find Gatsby (and their newest addition, Lorraine) at private events, corporate catering, weddings, and street festivals, such as the Phoenixville Food Truck Festival.
What’s makes great ice cream?
Making everything “seriously from scratch,” of course! Zsa’s uses local dairy from Trickling Springs Creamery in Chambersburg, PA. Their blend of milk and cream is 16% butterfat, which explains the oh-so-creamy texture. “You don’t find too many ice creams with that high a butterfat,” says Danielle. Trickling Springs Creamery’s grass-fed milk is from heritage breed cows, raised without the use of synthetic hormones.
What’s the most fulling part of the job?
“Seeing the way the product makes people pay attention to what they’re eating because of how great it tastes. Having it at a birthday party or a wedding, you’re always going to make someone’s day better.”
Find a rotating selection of Zsa’s ice cream in our freezer case!