When Luisa Santos was getting ready to graduate college, she was debating between working a consulting job and opening her own ice cream shop. Ice cream won. As part of our Women’s History Month celebration, we talked to Luisa of Lulu’s Nitrogen Ice Cream to hear more about her journey into starting an ice cream revolution.
In between her junior and senior year of college, Luisa Santos found out about the process of using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream. “I always had a business bug,” she admits, and as her interest in this not-so-common ice cream technique continued to grow, she decided to get more serious about it.
“I began by hosting an ice cream pop-up shop at various events on and off campus,” she says. Then came a stand at the Georgetown Farmer’s Market. Then came pitching her idea at various competitions until she had enough money to get started with a catering, wholesale, and retail operation.
For Luisa, being in charge of her work life has given her a lot of freedom. “I love questioning the status quo and having full independence to change things when we know we can do them better,” she says. “Sometimes that means using our own methods to mix base and sometimes that means using only biodegradable paper goods instead of “traditional” ice cream cups.”
Still, there have been challenges. From dealing with the many unknowns of being a small business owner to flat-out sexism, Luisa has been through it all. “I have had permitting officials treat me in ways they would never treat my male counterparts in the past,” Luisa says.
But being able to combine her love of ice cream with her desire to build a value-driven business has been a dream come true. Not only does she work to support local farming when sourcing ingredients, she gives back to her employees, offering them personal development opportunities like financial literacy training.
Looking to the future, Luisa has big dreams. “In 5-10 years,” she says, “I hope that Lulu’s will provide craft ice cream made with wholesome ingredients to as large of an audience as possible throughout the world.”
With the addition of the Women-Owned business attribute on Yelp, you’ll now be able to see whether or not specific businesses in your area are women-owned!