Spread peanut butter and marshmallow fluff between two Ritz crackers. Cover the sandwich with caramel, then with chocolate. Finally, break the layers into tiny pieces and mix into a sweet ice cream base. The result is Fluffnut, the first flavor created by Brooklyn-based ice cream producer Phin & Phebes in February 2010.
Jess Eddy and Crista Freeman are the duo behind Phin & Phebes, as well as the joint owners of a dog named after their-now signature flavor. The company began as a wintertime hobby, born out of disappointment with the lack of super-premium ice creams in inventive flavors. They began prototyping flavors and sharing them with friends. In April of 2010 they took six of their best flavors to Brooklyn’s Lyceum Fair, where they gave free samples in return for customer surveys.
“We took that first opportunity to really figure out which flavors people liked the most and how they liked to buy their ice cream,” said Freeman. They compiled the data, along with age and gender information, and used the list as supporting evidence for their first major loan.
As they became more serious about the endeavor, the partners attended a course on ice cream manufacturing at Pennsylvania State University. “Penn State is known for their food science program and specifically their creamery,” said Freeman. “It was a big eye-opener that we had to start all over with the way we were developing our recipes.”
Phin & Phebes launched their pint business in November 2011. One year later, they’re in all 24 Whole Foods stores in the Northeast.
Originally both women were working day jobs outside of the food industry, Eddy as a user experience design consultant and Freeman as an e-commerce manager with Paragon Sports. Eddy still works as a design consultant but Freeman left her job in January of 2012 to focus completely on Phin & Phebes.
“Owning your own business is hard because you work non-stop but you get to dictate what you do with it,” Freeman said. “But the most fulfilling thing is seeing people eat our ice cream.”
Freeman works every day and estimates that many weeks she works over 80 hours. But she has no regrets about leaving her job in e-commerce. “It’s exciting to have complete control. Our marketing and our branding is pretty quirky and out there,” she said. “Being able to do what you want to do – it’s satisfying.”