There is no shortage of horror stories about Black-owned businesses suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic — especially those in the restaurant and foodservice industries.
But SoliDairy Creamery — a Black-owned ice cream shop located in northern New Jersey — saw the pandemic as an opportunity to not only thrive, but to connect with other members of the community who were desperately in need of the human touch.
“The world was going through rough times in 2020 [pandemic, social injustice, human separation, job loss, etc.]” said co-founder Alfah Topping. “We wanted to find a way to bring people together again — and what better way than with the love of ice cream? Our goal is to bring communities together with our farm-fresh, locally sourced, and hand-packed ice cream.”
Topping and co-owner Garan Dickson are long-time businessmen who came together to create this unique ice cream shop. Topping, whose background in digital marketing was a perfect compliment to serial entrepreneur Dickson’s can-do work ethic, says that taking a farm-to-table approach to ice cream affords them the ability to not only create delicious flavors, but to stimulate the local economy.
“What really separates our gourmet style ice cream, other than working with a local dairy farm, is our people, the taste, and our mission!” said Dickson. “We have a team of experts with over 30-plus years of experience and the science behind our ice cream is mind-blowing. All of the ingredients are sourced locally, farm-fresh, and each pint is hand packed. This reduces the air percentage, giving you a richer, creamier, and more dense pint of ice cream. We’ll also be offering vegan options soon!”
And that’s not all: SoliDairy has partnered with Neighbors Without Addresses to provide a mask for every pint purchased. They say they will continue to carry this mission as they expand, and to help out other communities as they grow.
With additional plans to have supermarkets and other retailers carry their goods nationwide, this Black-owned ice cream shop is more than just a small local business. And their secret to success is simple.
“Surround yourself with positive and like-minded people. You never know where an idea can take you,” said Topping.
Editorial note: Portions of this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.