You Scream, I scream, we ALL scream for MilkMade ice cream: An Ice Cream Subscription Service with a TASTING ROOM.
ICE CREAM! America’s favorite indulgent pass time with a wide range of flavors to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth is setting a new trend: artisanal. According to the National Restaurant Association, home-made ice cream (artisan) was the TOP 2015 dessert trend and has continued to grow since. With this dairy-licious market expanding, more and more players are entering the ice cream fray leading to saturation becoming a key problem but differentiation becoming a key solution.
Standing out of the “pint” takes more than just yummy flavors, but also smart business strategies that keep customers coming back for more! Well, self-proclaimed ice cream addict & founder of MilkMade, Diana Hardeman, has found an ingenious way to do just that: an ice cream subscription.
Started in 2009 in the East Village of NYC, MilkMade started off solely as a subscription service, providing its ice cream loving members three pints of ice cream over three months for $50 with unique flavors designed in their MilkMade test kitchen.
Within a week of putting a site up, Hardeman received 700 sign ups on her email list before even sending out a SINGLE pint. Since launching the subscription service, Hardeman has created over 200 different flavors of ice cream using locally sourced ingredients like rum from a nearby distillery to fulfill her dream and mission of “creating a better pint.” Her ice cream flavor experiments have quickly created a cult following via word-of-mouth and have already served thousands of local members in New York City. For MilkMade the delicious journey has just begun as they grow into their first brick & mortar location: let’s “take a lick.”
“IT’S NOT GOING TO BE PERFECT WHEN YOU LAUNCH. IT’S A WORK-IN-PROGRESS FOREVER”
To get the ice cream flowing, they ran a WILDLY successful Kickstarter campaign. Since its spontaneous start as a “creative outlet” for its founder, MilkMade has both evolved and grown with an ever-expanding wait list for its subscription service to a bustling storefront “tasting room.”
As it stands now, subscriptions start at $35 for two pints of ice cream delivered each month of that month’s flavors delivered straight to their door. The MilkMade plans also include delivery, unlike its competitors. The company also collaborates directly with local partners like Dough and Grady’s Manhattan, priding itself on being “sticklers for local ingredients.” and tries to consistently use the finest and most local, even sourcing their dry ice from a Manhattan-based distributor.
Despite its seemingly expensive pricing model, The BIG Apple based company has earned both widespread attention as well as a significant cult. For hooked MilkMade lovers though, the quality of the ingredients and the ice cream they create are well worth the price tag. The artisan hype may draw them in, but it’s the products taste that keeps them coming back for more.
MilkMade ice cream builds its brand by keeping it VERY personal.
Using an ice cream of the month model, the company has been able to scale their capacity, processing ice cream a few gallons at a time and then hand-packing and personally labeling EVERY pint for its members. The MilkMade team (called milkmaids) then puts the pints onto their bike baskets and hand-delivers them to its subscribers’ homes.
“There are so many favorite flavors, and they’ve improved so drastically.“As soon as the ice cream comes, my boyfriend & I eat it immediately. It’s hard to keep the pints past the first day we get them.”
With membership demand growing and people from all over wanting a taste of the proclaimed “really amazing ice cream”, MilkMade has opened up their first physical location to give everyone an opportunity to come to try out flavors in person.
“Everyday there’s something that goes wrong,”. “You just get used to it.”
-MilkMade Founder Diana Hardeman
Up until 2015, MilkMade had been strictly subscription-based, but when it moved its production facility it gained an open space in Cobble Hill that MilkMade founder, Diana Hardeman turned into the MilkMade Tasting Room. It is the founder’s hope that the addition of a storefront that ice cream lovers from all over can physically go to will in turn boost MilkMade’s popularity enough to further expand its business.
Along with rotating the extensive catalog of MilkMade engineered ice cream recipes in their storefront, the company also offers cone flavors to match the ice cream served as well as the option to do “ice cream flights” for $12 to allow customers to sample a range of their flavors in a single visit! DEFINITELY an improvement over boringly plain waffle cones and a lonely singular scoop of ice cream.
For longtime members or soon to be’s, do not worry: MilkMade will continue its staple ice cream subscriptions with delivery included and no flavors ever repeated as it pursues its goal of servicing more and more ice cream lovers. BUT if you want to check out their storefront in Cobble Hill, MilkMade’s retail hours are from Tuesday to Friday 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends until 11 p.m. (They are closed on Monday, so if you want the start of your week to have a MilkMade treat, then subscribe!)
“Your competitors can be your biggest helpers, We all understand it’s not a winner-takes-all market.”
-MilkMade Founder Diana Hardeman
This Untold story goes to show that as successful as a business may appear from the outside, it’s been anything but easy. It also highlights how key it is to stay transparent with other players in the industry in order for your own business to grow.
While MilkMade appreciates the positive attention, the company maintains that it is the quality of the product, rather than the hype, that is making its artisan ice cream so popular. With so many willing to pay the steep price point, one thing is certain: This frozen delight is a hot commodity.
Check out one of MilkMade’s seasonal flavor list and see if any strike your sweet tooth fancy:
Happy Ice Creaming!