Growing a small business, one scoop at a time

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Victoria Lai had a career as a Washington, D.C., lawyer working for the government, but she also had an unquenchable passion for cooking, baking and making ice cream. She started a blog called Ice Cream Jubilee and “tried to make myself hate ice cream,” she says, mixing and making four new flavors of ice cream each week to write about on her blog.

When she discovered Union Market’s DC Scoop ice cream competition a few years ago, Lai’s ultimate goal was to win it all. After serving 12 flavors to 8,000+ people, Ice Cream Jubilee was voted People’s Choice for best ice cream. “I had no idea what to do with that,” Lai says.

This week’s episode of Retail Gets Real gets the scoop on Ice Cream Jubilee, which now has two D.C. locations and has been featured on multiple lists of the “best ice cream shops in America.”

Victoria Lai (left) shared her entrepreneurial journey with co-host Tony Fontana (right).

Victoria Lai (left) shared her entrepreneurial journey with co-host Tony Fontana (right).

“Ice Cream Jubilee is an experience,” Lai says, because the products are handcrafted from local, seasonally available ingredients. Her favorite flavor is “Dark and Stormy” — a nod to her favorite cocktail — a blend of Gosling’s Dark Rum with ginger. Coming up with flavor combinations and naming products is Lai’s favorite part of running the business.

As for other entrepreneurs who are thinking of making the leap to retail: “Find out what you love and find out what you hate,” Lai says. Then “you can find the right partners or [decide] whether or not the opportunity is the right fit for you.”

Listen to this week’s episode to hear more about how Lai got started and where she finds the inspiration to continue.

Tony Fontana is a co-host on NRF’s Retail Gets Real. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.