Just when you think it is impossible for minority entrepreneurs to start a lucrative business after being rejected by some local banks, then comes Philadelphia’s Andre Andrews with his water ice and ice cream business determined to carve a niche into the cold treat industry. His homemade water ice and ice cream start-up business has now even found its way on the shelves of some of Philadelphia’s supermarkets.
With a background in finance from Bloomsburg University, Andrews
took a job with a firm in Philadelphia, working nine to five. He was also a member of the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church which planned a mission trip to South Africa. When his job would not grant him a leave of absence to allow his travel to South Africa, Andrew made a bold decision by resigning his job. For Andrew, his decision was not a foolish one because he had already bought some rental properties while he was in college.
With his investments, Andrews was able to sustain himself financially
while travelling to South Africa and later as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity to Nicaragua in South America.
Out of his list of business ideas, Andrews believed that water ice would be the easiest business to start because there was a void in his community for quality frozen products. Then, in the spring of 2013, on his way home from Nicaragua, Andrews decided to start a push-cart water ice business.
Determined, he used his own funds to purchase the equipment to make water ice, the ingredients and the push cart. It wasn’t long when Andrews began going door-to-door with his Dre’s water ice in his West Philadelphia neighborhood.
For several months Andrews stuck to his door-to-door marketing approach, convincing his customers about the quality of his products and giving away free samples. As time went by, his customers began to admire him for his tenacity and his consistency to build brand recognition in and outside of his community. Several months into his business, Andrews garnered the courage to present a business plan to Jeff Brown of the Brown’s Family ShopRite for a space in the supermarket.
To Andrews’ surprise and delight, Jeff Brown liked his proposal and allowed him to set up a water ice kiosk at the 52nd and Jefferson streets Brown’s ShopRite. Even though Andrews was delighted and began to now sell his water ice in a more controlled but bigger environment, his desire to tap into other areas related to the frozen treats industry remained high on his list.
He soon turned his focus to creating his own line of ice cream after convincing himself that he needed another product to compliment his water ice business. To meet the challenge, Andrews spent countless hours concocting his ice cream flavors. The result was his Southern Style Sweet Potato Ice Cream Pie followed by his Southern Style Banana Pudding Ice Cream. By the end of 2014, Andrews needed validation having finally developed a line of marketable ice cream products that were unique and delicious.
Comfortable with his business relationship with ShopRite Supermarkets, Andrews informed Jeff Brown about his ice cream inventions and invited him for a taste test. The fact that Dre’s water ice and ice cream are now being sold at Brown’s ShopRite Supermarkets in Philadelphia is an indication that after Jeff Brown and his executives sampled the ice cream, an agreement was reached between Andrews, the supermarket giant and its parent company Wakefern Foods to put Dre’s ice cream on the supermarkets’ shelves .
In January 2015, Andrews created four additional ice cream flavors and
introduced them to the public the week before Easter Sunday. Energized by the favorable responses he received from his customers, Andrews is currently in the process of creating more frozen flavors and novelties that he’s expecting to announce before the end of the year.
Though Andrews has a success story with his Dre’s Homemade Water Ice and Ice Cream business, he is still involved in his community with his business. Philadelphians can see Dre’s Homemade Water Ice and Ice Cream cart pounding the streets throughout his neighborhood. Andrews is considering opening his own water ice and ice cream store in his West Philadelphia to help the community’s economy.
It is Andrews’ hope that his collaborations with the Brown’s Family ShopRite will foster future community development. Andrews also hopes that the success and fame he has received can bring attention not just to himself but the economic needs of his community as well. For his part, Andrews plans to make substantive contributions through teaching entrepreneur skills, sponsoring sport teams, mentoring of young people and perhaps hosting events that will impact the West Philadelphia community.
Contribution from hgf media blog