Let's Keep This Simple + Sweet
By: Anna Whitehead
What do you get when you combine the most decadent local ingredients NWA has to offer with 14 percent butter fat and a heart warming cause? In short, the answer is 20-year-old Coleman Warren’s Simple + Sweet, an exceptional, super-premium ice cream shop and an economic engine for nonprofits to fight child hunger in NWA .
Warren is a junior at the University of Arkansas, where he studies Industrial Engineering and Political Science. In the summer of 2019, he served as an Americorps VISTA for two months in Omaha, Nebraska, and helped feed over 600 children each day at a local food bank.
During his stint in the Cornhusker state, he set out to try all the local artisanal ice cream shops. Floored with the quality and inspired to do more, Warren realized that his home in NWA was in need of a superhero with super-premium ice cream.
“It just totally changed my life. I started to look around and see my own privilege and then I started to think about how Nebraska is not one of the most food insecure states in the US… but Arkansas has a lot of hungry kids,” he said.
Coleman Warren, Photo Courtesy of Simple + Sweet
In October 2019, Warren and his team began working with the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center to form a business plan, buy equipment, and launch a storefront - then March hit.
“We didn’t have the equipment and we didn’t have the money… we didn’t know what we were going to do,” he said.
However, adapt they did. The group raised enough funds to purchase equipment and begin making ice cream in October 2020.
Simple + Sweet launched with a mission to achieve three things: joy, love, and generosity. For each pint of ice cream sold, over 50 percent of the profit is contributed to fighting child hunger in NWA. In the first three months of business, Simple + Sweet donated 10,000+ meals to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank and is just getting started.
“How can a kid be focused on their education, getting into college, or starting a career if they’re worried about what they’re going to eat for dinner? I just realized I wanted to make a difference and help feed kids in Arkansas,” he said.
According to NoKidHungry.org, 1 in 4 children in the United States could face hunger because of the coronavirus and more than 11 million children in the United States live in "food insecure" homes.
“I want people to know when they are buying this ice cream that they are helping people.”
Starting a business in the belly of a pandemic is no small feat, and the COVID-19 crisis definitely became a motivating factor, Warren said.
“It couldn’t have worked out better,” he said. “It allows us to represent a lot of things: being safe in a pandemic and supporting small businesses.”
Photo Courtesy of @simplesweetcreamery on Instagram
Warren made it increasingly clear that although 50 percent of the profits are donated, the remainder of Simple + Sweet’s earnings go towards maintaining infrastructure and feeding more kids.
“We want to represent how entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be this thing where we are exploiting anything… we’re just making great ice cream and helping people during a pandemic - and we’re doing it safely” he said.
So what makes ice cream super-premium? In order to be officially labeled as ice cream, the product must contain at least 10 percent butter fat (the fatty part of the milk). Simple + Sweet ice cream is infused with about 14 percent butterfat. In other words, this is the creamiest, stretchiest, most mouthwatering ice cream in the world.
Additionally, they only use all-natural ingredients such as lavender water extract and fresh strawberries to limit the amount of artificial sweeteners in the products. This creates an optimal experience for customers who are more sensitive to headaches associated with artificial sweeteners.
Most importantly, the ice cream is made extremely “small-batch”- four gallons at a time to be exact. This allows for less air in the product, leading to a richer taste. For comparison, some generic brands are also considered small-batch, yet produce 22 gallons at a time.
Photo Courtesy of @simplesweetcreamery on Instagram
And the quality doesn’t end there. Coleman and his team hand deliver every single pint of ice cream to ensure that customers are satisfied with their order.
“We personally pay our delivery drivers… it’s someone that I know and that I trust to be bringing you your ice cream,” he said. “I want people to know when they are buying this ice cream that they are helping people.”
As warmer weather (hopefully) approaches, more ice cream is on the way! Simple + Sweet is already making plans to expand to a food truck or storefront by this summer. In addition, Warren and his team are also planning to work with local schools to teach social entrepreneurship - while providing delicious treats along the way.
"I've found the things in my life that make me the happy, satisfied and joyous, are when I'm not worried about myself, but trying to help others around me," Warren said.
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