Although it started as a single, 580-square-foot ice cream shop in a remote Terra Linda shopping center without any employees because as the Founding Twin, I acknowledge, 'I couldn’t afford any,' Three Twins Ice Cream is becoming an unlikely leader in the rapidly growing domestic organic ice cream market. Already the first and largest chain of organic ice cream shops with three company owned-stores, Three Twins opened a 4,200 square-foot dedicated organic ice cream factory in Petaluma last month that is allowing the company to exponentially increase its production while lowering its cost and make ice cream of an even higher quality in a greater number of flavors. No larger dedicated facility for the production of organic ice cream exists in the world.
Three Twins has gained much fanfare in the Bay Area since its first ice cream shop opened in August 2005; an untimely opening just days before summer ended and schools reopened. The first year, after the euphoria of opening one’s own business rapidly faded and the reality of volunteering 90+ hours per week for oneself set in, was extremely difficult, but I knew that Three Twins would grow beyond those limiting walls and get its inconceivably delicious ice cream to the world.
Prior to opening the factory, Three Twins consisted of its San Rafael, Napa and San Francisco scoop shops as well as a thriving foodservice and farmers’ market business, pints for groceries and a recently added online store. While the online store only accounts for a small part of Three Twins' business, I recently fulfilled an online order for a billionaire in Boston who purchased '100 Pints Personally Delivered' for the grandiose sum of $3,333.33.
The new plant is allowing Three Twins to produce its own organic ice cream from raw inputs, which was previously not a possibility at the two retail stores. Instead of buying finished ice cream mix through a local distributor, the company is now producing its own mix for a fraction of that cost. The factory also affords the company economies of scale in purchasing packaging and ingredients. The result is that Three Twins is able to reduce the average price of its pints in grocery stores from $5.99 to $4.49-$4.99 and partner with a distributor that is making Three Twins Ice Cream available up and down the West Coast. Whole Foods Market began rolling out Three Twins Ice Cream at its Washington, Oregon and California stores last week, as did dozens of other independent and chain stores.
The opening of the factory is the next step in building a significant national brand of inconceivably delicious ice cream that appeals not only to the organic consumer, but also to the wider group of individuals with taste buds.
Still, growth does not come without its challenges. While this is a very exciting time for the company, we’re a bit lean after paying for and starting up the factory and would benefit from additional equity investments in the coming months. The company has raised over $2 million in the last three years from friends, family, customers and outside investors.