Crista Freeman’s favorite quote is “Be so great they can’t ignore you.”
While Steve Martin’s insight resonates with many of us, it’s especially fitting to the Phin & Phebes story, an ice cream company Crista started alongside her co-founder Jess Eddy.
Greater than my love of dessert (Yes, there are things I love more than chocolate), is a deep-seeded passion for using real ingredients to cook our meals.
In a food ecosystem clouded by ingredients we can’t pronounce from origins we most certainly don’t want to know, Phin & Phebes is a breath of fresh air.
The base of all of their ice creams is heavy cream, milk, cane sugar, and eggs. Yes, you read that right. There are just four ingredients.
Other additions, such as key lime pie and banana wafers are made with natural ingredients, many that are baked in the Phin & Phebes test kitchen.
Similar to their commitment to organic, non-GMO, and locally sourced ingredients, the young startup’s story is honest and simple.
Jess and Crista’s goal is for each spoonful (serving spoons are acceptable) to “recreate the experience of when you taste ice cream for the first time as a child.” Who can argue with that?
Phin & Phebes was born out of a winter ice cream experiment that went incredibly right.
After creating their first flavor Fluff Nut and testing new flavors while working their day jobs, the recipe-filled chalkboard hanging in their apartment test kitchen became a clear indication that Crista and Jess’ self-proclaimed titles of professional eaters needed to be solidified.
Four years later Crista and Jess are selling seven Phin & Phebes flavors in over 750 stores on the East Coast. Don’t worry West Coasters, the ice cream is in your future too. If you can’t wait until they expand, you can purchase the ice cream from our friends at Goldbely here.
Similar to the fact that Penn State’s Ice Cream University isn’t a tasting party as I hoped, building the business has cultivated tremendous grit for Crista and Jess.
People were shocked that we wanted to make ice cream with egg yolks and not carrageenan or guar gum.
When it came to scaling their home recipes, the founders had to reformat everything. As an amateur cook who panics about how many thyme leaves to add for an extra serving, I literally cannot imagine doing this.
It’s undeniable that bringing a food product to market is intense; And, I’m hugely grateful to Crista for being honest about what it was really like for Jess and her.
After finding an individual to deliver their ice cream, Crista needed to add an additional store to the Phin & Phebes roster each week.
I was persistent because if I didn’t sell it we weren’t going to make it. It was kind of make it or die.
While her approach can be humorously coined as minor stalking, it worked. Crista targeted buyers, figured out their schedules, and met them in the freezer isles with samples. In only four months, Phin & Phebes went from zero stores to 60.
As they now serve over 750 stores and plan to expand, Crista’s adamant about food entrepreneurs being picky about the retailers they partner with.
Today, she only identifies and works with stores that align with the Phin & Phebes brand, even if it means canceling some of the young startup’s accounts.
The core fit mentality drives everything the team does. From finding and working with investors to choosing packaging and doing demos, Crista, and Jess let transparency define their brand.
In Crista’s episode of 33founders, you’ll gain a deep understanding of the courage it takes to turn a home recipe into a food enjoyed by all, how to manufacture and distribute your product, determine true cost, and fundraise.
Aside from upcoming new flavors, which are obviously the most important, the Phin & Phebes team has an exciting year ahead.
They’re currently raising money on AngelList and CircleUp (you can click the links to learn more!) and are releasing new packaging in the spring. I’m especially excited about this because they’re showcasing the high-quality ingredients used in their ice cream.
While she couldn’t reveal all of the new flavors, Crista was able to share Phin & Phebes' forthcoming Mucho Vanilla, which I’m excited to top my brother’s favorite Apple Cobbler with.
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