I Scream, You Scream: The Ice Cream Marketing Queen
As far as marketing goes, ice cream isn’t such a tough sell. It’s pretty photogenic (especially on a cone), it has a reliable seasonal demand, and it’s usually much cheaper than stuffier dessert alternatives. The ice cream at Molly Moon’s has a slew of other qualities to recommend it: delicious rotating flavors, milk alternatives, local ingredients, and a sweet aesthetic in the shops themselves (seven throughout the city, soon to be eight!). Started in 2008 by Seattle resident Molly Moon Neitzel herself, the brand has become synonymous with fabulous sweet treats and a local entrepreneurial success. Yet, as Emily Kim, Molly Moon’s Marketing and Community Relations pro explains, there’s even more to admire about the company itself.
How did you end up working at Molly Moon’s, and what keeps you there?
I had been working in policy at the Seattle City Council for the last few years. When the council member I worked for did not win reelection, I began looking for another job. I had worked in government for most of my career and thought I would love to gain experience in the private sector, but wanted to make sure it was for a company that shared the values I had come to admire at the City. I had seen Molly around City Hall, she participated on committees that gave input on the $15 minimum wage legislation. She was also involved in the secure scheduling legislation among other things. I knew that she was political, progressive and an advocate for equity and worker’s rights, that also happened to make amazing ice cream! I applied and began as a community relations coordinator doing outreach and helping form a non-profit to work with food banks in every shop neighborhood to get them fresh milk and dairy. Now I am the marketing director. I love what I do and working for Molly Moon’s because it allows me to be creative, and at the same time allows me to work on bigger policy issues like racial and gender equity, community giving and progressive workplace policies!
The original Molly Moon shop is in Wallingford, where are you going next?
We’re super excited to say we are opening in Columbia City, hopefully around June 1st! This will be our shop furthest South, and we’re so glad to be expanding to another amazing neighborhood! We’ve already started working with awesome partners down there like the Rainier Valley Food Bank and Friends of the Children. We’re also currently working with local artists to do a mural in the Columbia City shop that reflects the culture in Columbia City and ties into the neighborhood.
You source 90% of your ingredients from the Pacific Northwest. Any particular suppliers that people should know more about who are doing great work?
We try to work with as many local farmers, producers, and makers as possible. We have some awesome farm partners, family-owned Smith Brother’s Farms supplies our dairy, Purple Haze Farms supplies our lavender, Viva Farms grows our berries. Viva Farms is an awesome farm incubator that helps farmers in need get their start! We also work with local Theo Chocolate for all of our flavors with chocolate. We love that they are local, organic and fair trade!
You have some awesome seasonal flavors right now–grapefruit rosemary sorbet, meyer lemon, vegan coconut chunk, and fudge brownie chunk. What’s the process of determining and testing your seasonal flavors, and what’s on deck?
We have an amazing culinary team! Each shop has a kitchen manager, who is a trained culinary professional. We make our ice cream fresh in each shop every day. Our team works together with Molly and our Culinary Director to develop new flavors or improve old favorites. We usually have four seasonals at any given time. The team looks at the season, what we did last year, what’s new and exciting, what local ingredients are in season and can be sourced among other things. Along with our seasonal flavors, our culinary team also develops a seasonal sundae. Right now it’s Maple Walnut ice cream with fresh banana slices and banana bread with a salty toffee sauce. All of the inclusions for our ice creams and toppings for our sundaes and scoops are made in our shops as well!
One of my favorite things about my job is doing the ice cream tastings. The culinary team works with Molly to complete a few different versions of each upcoming flavor, and Molly and the team tastes all of them and decides on any tweaks that need to be made!
Our upcoming seasonals are Thai Tea and Chocolate Sorbet. We also try to have at least two vegan options available at any given time, usually a sorbet and then one made with coconut milk. We’ve also tried doing flavors with goat’s milk since there is less lactose in it!