Ice cream is more than a delicious treat to Victoria Lai. For her, it’s a business and a way to help others make memories.
Lai is the owner of Ice Cream Jubilee, an ice cream company with two D.C. locations and a third planned for Arlington, Virginia. Her creations can also be found in grocery stores across the Washington, D.C. area.
She didn’t originally plan to have such an ice cold career. Until a few years ago, she was a practicing attorney who simply made – and ate – ice cream as a hobby.
"My story in Washington, D.C. is similar to a lot of people’s," said Lai. "I came to Washington to work for the government. My passion was in public service, and I also loved food."
Lai began mixing up treats in her kitchen a few years ago. She attended Penn State University’s ice cream seminar in 2013, then she hit the ground running.
"I kept trying and trying, making new flavors, sharing it with other people," said Lai. "The easy thing is there are always people interested in trying out new flavors."
Creating unique flavors is something Lai prides herself on. While the menu is constantly changing, some favorites include: banana bourbon caramel, non-dairy espresso colada, gin and tonic sorbet and Thai iced tea.
Lai began selling her ice cream in grocery stores and restaurants before opening her first Ice Cream Jubilee location two years ago. Along the way, she learned quickly that running a business is much more than having a great product.
"You can have the best ice cream, you can love making ice cream, but to know that you want to make the leap to start a business really requires you to take a look into yourself and think, 'Do I like accounting?' 'Do I like people management?'" said Lai. "It was a gradual process that made me realize that I have something that people really love, and I love making ice cream that people love.”
Lai said her love of ice cream began at an early age. Seeing families enjoying her creations reminds her of sharing ice cream with her own family.
"It’s so memorable to me to know that we could have that family moment together over something we all enjoyed," said Lai. "I think about that all the time when I see families come in: knowing this is not just a snack for them, this is a memory they’re going to create."
Lai is now a parent herself. She says she constantly finds parallels between being an entrepreneur and being a parent.
"There is no way you’ll ever know all the answers. You’ll always stumble on things. The journey is in the discovery of how you can create a life with more positives than negatives," she said.
To find out more about Ice Cream Jubilee and where to find Lai's delicious ice cream, click here.