Hello! Great to have you here, the kettle’s just boiled – what would you like to drink?
A cup of tea would be lovely!
So, tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
Well my name is Sally Newall, I am 46 years old and I run a business making handmade ice cream near Ashford, Kent called Simply Ice Cream. I have been married to Robin for coming up to 19 years and we have 4 children, Jess 17, Matt 15, Tash 13 and William who’s 11
What inspired you to start your creative business?
I have always been into cooking, I travelled to Australia when I was 18 and ended up living there for 5 years where I trained as a chef, completed a business course and trained as an aerobics instructor! When I came back to the UK I took over from my mother’s business partner in the catering business she had been running since 1986. We had so many guests ask where they could buy the ice cream we were serving as dessert that I thought it would be a good idea to start making it in pots to sell into retail. The idea was that by selling a product into retail we could cut back on the catering so that I could spend more time with my husband and children on the weekends. However that has never panned out as I hadn’t realised how much marketing, PR, Sampling, attending events etc we would have to do on weekends to build brand awareness and expose the product to as many people as possible.
How did it all begin?
I set the ice cream company up in Oct 2005. Initially we trialled it in a local farm shop for 6 months from October to March – in retrospect it was a very strange time of year to launch!! However despite a very cold winter it did sell and so we then approached 3 other farm shops in 2006. We were selling the ice cream in 4 flavours to start with, honeycomb, strawberry, chocolate and vanilla. We now have over 32 flavours selling into retail which includes a range of sorbets.
How has your business changed and developed since it started?
From that 1 farm shop we are now sold in Waitrose across the UK, supply around 350 outlets across the South East with our own distribution and also supply through distributors. We supply farmshops, delis, tourist attractions, theatres, airlines and food service outlets. We also supply Cook Food with their own label ice cream and late last year signed a contract with the Middle East to send product over to Saudi which is really exciting.
So, where does all this take place? What’s your workspace like?
When we first set up we worked from my kitchen but as the business grew we converted two large rooms in our house into a factory space. This is self-contained and not accessible from the house now. We have one room dedicated to production and the other is an office with storage!
What are the best and worst bits of running your business?
We have recently restructured the business which has been amazing. For the last 8 years my husband and I had been working up to 18 hours a day at times. (Robin helps out when he gets back from work but doesn’t work in the business on a day to day basis) the restructure means that we are gradually getting a little bit of our lives back. I am really lucky in that with the restructure we now have dedicated staff in various positions that are all doing a fantastic job. You can’t run a small business without good staff and my staff are wonderful!! I now have time to work on the business again and its future growth. Working in the freezer is probably my least favourite job but going to events and hearing feedback or getting an email from a fan makes everything worth it.
What are your hopes, plans or ambitions for the future?
Our aim is to continue growing the business. We are passionate about getting the ice cream out to as much of the UK and beyond as possible. It’s a very indulgent ice cream and unlike anything else on the market. We think everyone should try it!
Finally, where can we find you online if we want to keep in touch?
Thanks so much for your time and chatting to you about your business!