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2011 December 13

Moonlighting, Vol. 4: Lela Rose

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Lela Rose Lela Rose
Ryan McCune/PatrickMcMullan.com
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(NEW YORK) Lela Rose is known for whipping up saccharine confections for her society patrons, but edible sweet treats? That's a new one. For the last five years, the Dallas-born designer has been peddling homemade ice cream from her Tribeca apartment window. Fancy a brownie bowl? Your Daily got the candy-coated scoop. MARIA DENARDO

What's the story with your ice cream pop-up?
If I weren't a designer, trust me, I'd be selling homemade ice cream. I always wanted to have a homemade ice cream shop. My kids and I put on a homemade ice cream sale every summer for one day. We open up the front window and sell ice cream out of it. We've been doing it for about five years now. It always benefits a charity that the kids choose, usually something about animals. One year it was the World Wildlife Fund; another year it was the ASPCA. It's like a bake sale—a very exhausting bake sale.

Did you have bake sales as a kid?
I did! We sold lemonade by the side of the road, but I always felt that no one really wanted the lemonade. Who doesn't love ice cream? Plus, the kids, who are ten and five years old, can be involved and have a good time. 

What was your first summer job?
I worked for the first I Can't Believe It's Yogurt flagship store in Dallas. That's right. I was a yogurt girl. It's what started my yogurt craze. My friend from high school and I started at the same time. We were typical teenagers who were told we had to get a job. We'd declare 'hat day' and whoever had the best hat would win a free yogurt. I would wear this Carmen Miranda fruit hat that and declare myself the winner every time. We weren't the best workers. We'd suntan on the top of our car during work hours. 

What flavors do you sell at your ice cream stand?
We have five different kinds every year, but they vary. We have brown bread, which was totally unpopular the first year. Once you get people to try it, they adore it. It's an old family recipe, and it's divine. Then, we do cinnamon and brownie, which the kids love. I make it all. You think your kids are going to help you, but they stand outside and just play with their friends on the block while you're the one hawking ice cream out a window.

How do you like your ice cream?
I like it way too much. We eat homemade ice cream three nights a week. We don't do low-fat yogurt or fruit sorbet. We go with the full fat. I'm actually on my bike right now at a green light about to get some heavy cream from the store. It's terrible, isn't it? 

How much do you charge for a cone?
$2.50. I try to get the kids into the whole selling mode and teach them how to be confident, look people in the eye, and explain the charity we chose. Of course, they never have a clue, and I'm like, 'No really, we're actually giving this to charity.' We have a lot of work to do.

What's the most money you've raised in one day?
We've made over $1,000 in a day.

What are your hours of operation?
We don't have set hours. We just put the sign up and email people who love to come. We always run out of ice cream and have to close up shop and eat outside with everyone. I might grab a bottle of wine at that point... 

What would the starting salary be for your first ice cream employee?
I have absolutely zero idea. If we did it on my kid's starting salary, it would be zero.

Do your kids get the required 15 minute breaks?
Are you kidding? The entire time is a break for them. They don't do anything. I'm like, 'Oh my goodness. Come back here and grab a spoon!' We're still working on that. 

Do your neighborhood customers know who you are?
Oh no, but when people see me, they ask when we're having the ice cream sale. They get really excited.

Do you ever have any off-the-wall buyers?
Nope! Everyone is pretty nice across the board. We have had some celebrities. I don't remember who it was...that Ed guy from 60 Minutes.

Ed Bradley?
Yes! And actress Allison Janney. My kids have no idea who these people are, but they're excited to tell people they've sold to celebrities.

Would you consider starting a real ice cream shop?
Oh, that would be fun. I bike everywhere; that's how I get around. I have a custom-built rickshaw that carries my dog and my kids. I've thought about selling ice cream out the back of it from a refrigerator unit—like a food truck except it'll be a food bike.

Are you going to be the next Ben & Jerry's?
I'd love to be the next Blue Bell ice cream. That was my favorite growing up. Made in Texas! 

 




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