Orlee Berlove | Ice Cream Anyone?

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My daughter had the second piano recital of her young life the other day in a very grand Beacon Hill abode owned by the Harvard Musical Association. The building, as is true of most of the homes in this part of Boston, was old-world and imposing. There were copies of letters written by great classical music composers affixed to the walls and high ceilings to capture the notes from the beautiful Steinway pianos in the music hall.

I wondered if my daughter, at her tender age of 8, sensed a disconnect between her experience and the grandness of the locale. She has only been taking lessons for 6 months and while she might someday become a great pianist, she’s certainly not there yet. This image resonates with me – someone who is just starting out, as is the case with my daughter – but sees greatness all around her – as perhaps my daughter did in this hall where so much musical history and legend was showcased.

I have a similar feeling of being an 8 year old at times, hoping to be worthy of the halls around me.

Let me provide a bit of background to explain my feelings here. Six months ago my husband and I both lost our jobs which we had held successfully for many years. These disappointing realities were just two data points in what seemed to be a string of bad luck that hit our family. But, as the adage goes, every black cloud has a silver lining.

I have tried emphatically to see these sad events as a platform from which to launch anew. I want to take all that sadness and negativity and have it fuel me to do something really great. Again, I felt like my daughter, the 8 year-old on a Steinway piano. Greatness was all around me but did I have the tools to access that potential and what would the sounds be like when I tried to play the notes?

I have always loved to cook, to try wine, to experiment in the kitchen. I worked in the wine business for over a dozen years in a variety of positions and developed a very sensitive palate for food in addition to wine. One unique product I came up with over the past several years in my kitchen was a great non-dairy ice cream.

See, I have friends and family who don’t do milk so well for a variety of reasons. It’s nothing personal with cows, really. It’s simply that their diets cannot always take milk. So loving ice cream as I do, I came up with an awesome recipe for non-dairy ice cream.

After my friend Fern put some fire under my feet, I decided to see if anyone beyond my family would actually want to try my product. During the course of lunch with Fern and her family, we came up with a rough business idea, business model and delivery mechanism. So off I went and started asking people to try. To my happy surprise, many people wanted to buy my product. I get people e-mailing me every week asking how they can get some of my amazing non-dairy ice cream.

But my success to date is just a first step and I am not clear on how to make the second step. My dirty secret is that I am making my product at home in my (very clean) house. But my home does not let me get very far with my product. My home only let’s me get the product to people who like me. I want to sell my product to people who don’t like me. To achieve that feat, I need to find a commercial space, a commercial ice cream maker, a freezer truck and a food chemist.

Do you remember the part a few paragraphs ago where I noted that neither my husband nor I have jobs?

So, I am now back to feeling like an 8-year old in front of a Steinway. My solution to date has been to spend my mornings on the computer trying to find a job that will help me pay the bills. I have been spending my afternoons working on all things ice cream: calling ice cream folks in the ‘biz’, looking for new recipes, finding out about commercial space, and talking to people who can maybe help me think about funding.

I want to create to create my magnum opus … I’m just having trouble finding the right notes.

Any recommendations re:  jobs, commercial space, ice cream makers, freezer trucks, food chemists and/or bridging the gap between start-up idea and capital short-fall?  Please feel free to respond here, or share your thoughts via the online poll at Honestly, Now.

Orlee Berlove is a graduate of Cornell University with a Master's Degree in Operations Research. She spent four years in the go-go world of consulting before realizing that her true passion was wine and food. She has recently launched Ice Cream By Invitation Only, a gourmet, non-dairy ice cream line. You can reach her at orlee@icecreambyinvitationonly or view her site Ice Cream By Invitation Only.

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