Ice Cream Social sells ice cream on Instagram for social justice causes
“I was trying to come up with a creative way to help and I realized my ice cream might be able to do more than provide comfort to my friends.”
Katrina Ervin, founder of Ice Cream Social, started making ice cream for her family and friends this spring during Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” order.
Furloughed from her job as a graphic designer and photographer, Ervin wanted a project. She decided to start making ice cream to drop off on her friends’ doorsteps. “I started calling it Ice Cream Social,” Ervin says. “I designed a logo, ordered recyclable containers and stickers and was kind of over the top about it. I’m a designer at heart. The whole ‘ice cream social’ was a play on the social distancing thing and not being able to see each other.”
But after the murder of George Floyd at the end of May, the ‘social’ took on new meaning as Ervin shifted her focus from “socializing” with friends to social justice causes. “I was trying to come up with a creative way to help and I realized my ice cream might be able to do more than provide comfort to my friends,” Ervin says. She spent the night coming up with a plan which included selling her ice cream online and asking people for donations. She worked quickly to design an Instagram page and started taking photos of the batch of ice cream she had just made. With the motto “small batches for big change,” Ervin had everything up online within 24 hours. “In two days I had my first sale,” she says.
Ervin now sells her ice cream, which comes in 12 ounce containers, from the Instagram page. “It’s a glorified social media bake sale,” she says. Asking people to pay a base price for the ice cream—usually $7 or $8 depending on how complex the recipe is—people can also pay more if they choose. After covering her costs, all proceeds go to social justice causes. “It’s crazy how generous people have been,” Ervin says. “Some people pay the base price, which I am totally happy with, but there have been people who have given me $50 for a 12-ounce container of ice cream. I started crying… It’s just a good feeling to see kindness in the world after everything that has been going on.”
In three weeks Ice Cream Social has raised $620 for Campaign Zero, a police reform campaign. “I wanted to pick an organization that I felt had a wide reach,” Ervin says. With a final sale on Friday, June 26, Ervin hopes to reach $800 for the month of June. For the month of July all proceeds will go to Freedom Inc., a local non-profit that works with low- to no- income communities of color.
When making her small batches of ice cream Ervin loves experimenting with flavors. Past flavors include milk and honey, s’mores and raspberry chocolate chip. All flavors are gluten-free and Ervin also started making vegan ice cream using coconut milk. “People started messaging me asking if I was going to be making vegan stuff,” Ervin says. “I had never made vegan ice cream before but I said, ‘sure, I’ll give it a try.’” Now Ervin’s vegan ice cream is sought after. “It is the first ice cream to sell out every time I’ve done a sale,” Ervin says. “The first vegan batch I posted sold out in ten seconds.” With sales starting at 10:30 a.m.—Ervin says people sometimes set alarms as a reminder—the ice cream usually sells out in less than 15 minutes. When people arrive to pick up the ice cream outside her apartment, they bring a cooler. “Or a spoon so they can eat it right away!” Ervin says.