Interview with Lola's Ice Pops
Lola's Ice Pops Lolasicepops.com
What inspired you to create Lola's Ice Pops?
Lola’s Ice Pops was founded by two friends -- Sandra Wong (originally from New York) and Julie Tuan (originally from San Francisco). Sandra and I were both working as lawyers when we moved to Hong Kong and continued to practice here for a number of years. Then we each had kids and decided we wanted to spend more time focusing on our families. We actually met through our kids who were then still babies– we formed our own little playgroup – and began making ice pops at home for them using fresh fruit, as there was nothing like that here in Hong Kong. From there, we decided to start Lola’s Ice Pops. We launched in April 2013 and made our debut at the Island East Markets.
How long did it take to get the business off the ground?
It took a good 6-8 months to get the business off the ground, as we carefully explored all of our options. Once we determined that we would start off modestly, and not dive directly into having a retail establishment, it took about 3 months to build our ice pops factory in order to obtain our frozen confection manufacturer license.
Tell us about the manufacturing process
Everything that goes into our ice pops is fresh and natural. We don’t use powdered mixes, artificial flavours, colouring, chemicals or preservatives. So that actually makes our manufacturing process quite simple. If we are making a “Watermelon Basil” ice pop, we blend up fresh watermelon and basil, then pour the mixture into popsicle molds and place them in our high-speed freezing machine. Although the process is simple, it can be very time consuming since we make everything from scratch. For example, we make our own brownies in our “Chocolate Fudge with Brownie Bites” popsicle, and hand-make the caramel in our “Green Apple Salted Caramel” popsicle. It’s a lot of work to make everything by hand and from scratch, but we think it’s worth it.
Tell about the distribution process (how do you get them to all the locations without melting!)
We have to carefully time our deliveries so that the ice pops are delivered from our workshop directly to our customers. In the summer months, in addition to regular food-grade ice, we also pack our ice pops in dry ice to ensure that they stay frozen when delivered to customers.
Where do you source ingredients from?
We source our ingredients from all over, really, but primarily from the markets in Hong Kong – the wet markets, wholesale fruit markets and supermarkets. For some specialty ingredients like pure vanilla extract or organic matcha, we obtain these from overseas.
Tell us about some challenges in running your business
Right now our biggest challenges are having enough time to do everything we want for the business and finding the right staff needed to properly grow the business.
How do you promote your yourself?
We promote our product primarily by participating in markets, fairs, festivals and various pop-ups throughout Hong Kong, which in the past have included:
- The Island East Markets
- The PMQ Night Markets
- Harbour Artisanal
- The Green Queen’s Made in HK
- Sassy’s Gourmet Evening
- Sassy Mama’s Marketplace
- Clockenflap Music Festival
- Homegrown Food’s Annual Harvest Feast
This exposure has led to catering jobs for corporate events, fashion events and product launches, which have included:
- Lane Crawford’s Vogue Fashion’s Night Out
- Harvey Nichols’ Exhibit K
- I.T/Kenzo’s new line launch
- Fujifilm’s product launch party, and most recently--
- J. Crew’s exhibition at IFC Mall
How big is your team?
It’s been mostly just the two of us. This year we have 2 additional part-time staff helping us.
What's next for Lola’s Ice Pops?
Aside from markets and fairs, we are working to expand the number of retail outlets carrying Lola’s Ice Pops so that they can be available for enjoyment on a more regular basis. We are also working with event planning companies and brand managers, so look out for us again at additional product launches and events this year.