What is your story?
I’m born and raised in Vancouver. I have such a huge appreciation for how amazing our city is after travelling and living abroad briefly. This is home. I went to UVic for my undergrad in Psychology and then did my teaching degree at UBC. Neither Blair(my husband and partner in Rain or Shine) had any culinary experience when we decided to open an ice cream shop.
What inspired you to start Rain or Shine?
We’d been places on our travels, mainly in the USA, where they were serving this type of house made, real ingredient ice cream. We loved it and wished we could take it home with us. We thought Vancouverites would feel the same so we started researching how we could make it happen. Then I just started telling our friends, “We’re opening an ice cream store.” Many thought we were crazy, especially since we opened in November.
What does sustainability mean to you and why is it important to your business?
Blair and I have always been very environmentally conscious. We’re relieved that the awareness has become a lot more mainstream lately and we hope this will induce change. Since we got to decide how we would run things we wanted to make our business reflective of our values. We used compostable packaging from the start, sourced locally as much as possible, and are members of great environmental associations such as Bullfrog and Dogwood.
What does a typical day look like?
At this stage Blair and I are more behind the scenes. We’re usually visiting at least one of the stores. Communicating with our managers and ice cream production staff. Sourcing and ordering seasonal ingredients. Meeting with production for flavour themes and development. Since we have such amazing staff I’m now able to focus on a lot more charity work through our Rain or Shine partnerships. It’s been awesome to use our business as a platform to raise awareness and funds for charities we care about.
How does the process of coming up with a new flavour work? What do you take inspiration from?
I meet with our ice cream production leads at the start of every month to brainstorm a theme and flavours for the next month. Through the winter we have pretty set themes but in the summer things are a lot more fluid depending on how long local berries and fruit are available. We’re always trying to think of creative new ideas. We walk the line between unique and what people will actually order a whole scoop of. I get ideas all over the place, from specialty coffees, to desserts to cocktails.
What’s the best part of owning a local ice cream empire?
The flexibility and learning new things everyday. Having a family now we appreciate that we can trade off doing RoS work and parenting so that we’re able to be with our kids a lot. We are also constantly striving to improve and do our best. We feel very fortunate to have such amazing staff and a great work culture that we really care about.
Most challenging moments running an ice cream business?
Never being able to be fully off. We never know what the day will bring. The alarm going off in the middle of the night, running ice cream out to Burnaby for an event that’s running out, freezer malfunctioning on the Friday afternoon of a long weekend, dead truck battery. We’ve done it all. That’s the less glamorous side of being a business owner.
What’s next for Rain or Shine?
We’re happy where we are. We always aimed for three stores and we’ve achieved that, plus a truck. The size now is manageable for Blair and I to be hands on and involved in everything. We don’t want to lose that feel. Right now we have a great work life balance overall and we really value that too. Spending time with our kids is very important to us.
What was one of your most rewarding experiences as a founder so far?
Being able to use our business to do good. To increase awareness to great causes we feel passionate about. I want to give back and continue to spread happiness beyond ice cream.
Best piece of advice to others that are wanting to start their own business?
Find a niche, have a solid business plan and give it all you’ve got. If you feel strongly about something don’t let others dissuade you from it. No regrets and even if you fail you’ll learn so much but don’t let the fear of failure stop you.
Our exclusive collaboration scents, Honey Lavender and Peppermint Hot Cocoa, are now available for purchase at all three Rain or Shine locations, while supplies last!