Ice cream in the winter? Yes, please! Ajoa Mintah, founder of Four All Ice Cream is ready to bring her handcrafted ice cream to uptown Waterloo with their first stand-alone retail location on Willis Way opening soon.
“It lets us deliver an experience for people. The space is cozy. We want to give people a comfortable place to sit. If sitting is not what you need, we’re in a very central location of the city that can be a bit of a community hub,” Mintah said.
Their all-natural ice cream made with locally-sourced ingredients (Guernsey cow milk from Eby Manor farm, combined with local cream) will still be made in small batches by hand at the original production facility on Whitney St. in Kitchener. The new kitchen in uptown Waterloo will make the add-ins and sauces and do some of the baking for mix-ins like brownies.
“Our kitchen is relatively open so that people can, if they want, have a peek at what we’re doing. It lets us deliver on an experience for people,” Mintah said.
Mintah sees ice cream as a blank canvas and looks to add in local flavours. Supporting the local business community is a priority for her and she looks for opportunities to collaborate.
“The blank canvas of ice cream really is a chance for us to highlight what other makers are doing and get that into our product to get back to people. We are happy to tell people who we partnered with,” Mintah said.
They work with all local partners: small farmers, a honey apiary, a maple producer, a baker, bean-to-bar chocolate makers, small-batch coffee roasters and local distillers and brewers in order to achieve “robust, full, deep flavour profiles that taste real.”
She has carried that local feeling into the decor of the shop as well, by using a local artist Steph Boutari to design two custom murals for the interior. The one on the main wall was sketched by the artist and painted by her team, and there are hidden surprises to discover in the bathrooms. Mintah is grateful to the KW community for their support of her and her business.
“I honestly feel if you are going to start a small business, [KW] is almost one of the best places to do it in. This is a community that loves entrepreneurship. People seek out and support new businesses or people trying something different,” Mintah said.
Although opening a business is not easy, she is thankful for the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in KW as well as support and resources available like Waterloo Region’s Small Business Centre.
“I see entrepreneurship in general as just not easy. In making a career shift from something that I knew very well, it’s very hard to do. There’s a lot I don’t know, but the attitude is put one foot forward every single day and tap into the resources that exist in this community.”
She advises people to do their homework before jumping into a new business and to just push forward every day. Mintah feels that as long as she has put her best effort in, she has succeeded. But finding time to balance it all is difficult for a small business owner and she leans on her support network.
“I had a great support system of people behind me that picked up the stuff that I wasn’t able to do so that I could get this off the ground. My husband is very supportive and at the time that I started I had very young children,” Mintah said.
She emphasizes that entrepreneurship is risky and that there is no guarantee of success. If you have support, it can be the backbone to help you take that leap.
Her journey to owning a small business started out of a quest for something different and a way to bring passion to her everyday work. She left the corporate world looking for a way to mix her education as a mechanical engineer with solving a problem and landed on ice cream.
“I know that everyone loves ice cream. I love ice cream. The issue is that people (have) stopped eating this amazing treat that they love, typically because of dietary issues or lack of a good quality product,” Mintah said.
Mintah has so many ideas for new ice cream flavours. At Four All, she has divided the flavours into four categories with something for everyone, hence the name Four All.
“Four All — because we want our products to be for as many people as possible. We make sure that we have a choice for everybody. It’s not just everything for everybody, but it is something for everybody,” Mintah said.
There are ‘Classic’ flavours for people that want a flavour that they recognize. ‘Childhood’ for some classic nostalgic favourites for the young and young at heart, as well as ‘Vegan’ for dairy-free options. Mintah’s favourite category is ‘Foodie’.
“(The foodie category) is for ice cream lovers that are adventurous – they want something that’s kind of out there. It’s something that we know works as a flavour combination that maybe we are actually hoping that you’ve never seen before as ice cream. That’s what we put together and that’s definitely my favourite,” Mintah said.
Four All anticipates a Mar. 7 opening for the new store. In the meantime, their ice cream is available to buy at their Factory Store at 141 Whitney Place, Unit #105 open Wed. to Fri., from 12 P.M. to 6 P.M. and at various stockists around the region.