Two things that make the world go-round for Little Baby's founder Pete Angevine: art and dairy. Pete talks to Inspire about how ice cream possesses more than ordinary significance, and how business can be a powerful tool for enacting change, stirring creative thinking, and community experimentation.
Little Baby's is now a cornerstone of Frankford Avenue in Fishtown. Take us back to when and how it started.
Pete Angevine: We started our company in 2011, and we opened our shop in Fishtown almost exactly 5 years ago. My entire personal and professional experience has been playing music. You know when you go see the bands you really like, and there are one or two opening bands that nobody has heard of? Yeah, I was exclusively in those bands. Prior to Little Baby's I had no experience in food or business. So this has definitely been a surprising and wild ride.
Little Baby's honestly began as a different kind of outlet for imagination and creativity that didn’t include being in a band. I started off with two partners, and we were all coming from the music and art world. We were all a little burnt out and looking for a new way to be creative and expressive.
Tell us more about that concept. What about ice cream made you see it as a creative outlet?
Pete: Ice cream became apparent to me as a unique, blank canvas that was quite different from esoteric music in many ways. If you think about it, ice cream is a universal equalizer. It brings people together and it makes people happy. At the time, I was excited by the idea of ice cream being a great platform for subversion and trying new and different things, and encouraging others to be curious and try things that were unfamiliar to them. That's what motivated me to start this business.
In what ways have you tried to have an impact on your communities, both neighboring and artistic?
Pete: I suppose I didn't understand this at the onset, but over time I have come to recognize business as a really powerful way to build the world you want to live in. Business has the ability to shape so much of the way things are, and even in your own tiny little business or universe, you can be really intentional and righteous about the way you interact with people or the environment or your community.
We have collaborated with dozens of artists, filmmakers, and musicians of all stripes. We are constantly working on various community partnerships and frequently, we spend a lot of time doing little to nothing that has to do with ice cream. Not only do we enjoy it, but I think that's what sets us apart. Little Baby's is an outlet for our worldview, and we just happen to sell a lot of ice cream.
What has been one of your favorite collaborations?
Pete: One of my favorite examples is from two summers ago. We collaborated with a local packaging company to create our new pint containers. If you can imagine your typical cylindrical ice cream cardboard pint, there is a thick waxy coating on it, which is made with a polyethylene based plastic that cannot be recycled. We decided to make ours with this recently developed coating that is completely plant based, that is both 100% repulpable and recyclable. Our containers remain to be one of a kind in the market. To announce our new pint containers, we partnered with a cool, alternative public high school called the Workshop School, which resulted in the students launching one of our ice cream pints into space. The kids had just finished studying things like atmospheric buoyancy, propulsion, density – all of the things you need to send ice cream into space.
Does Little Baby's participate in any sustainably minded business practices?
Pete: A core value of ours is being as environmentally conscious as possible. I would like to think that most of the decisions we make are informed by that value. We exclusively source all of our dairy locally from Pennsylvania, where all of the cows are grass fed and hormone and antibiotic-free. I could go on for hours about how grass fed dairy is this beautiful, sustainable, cosmic process that has been an organic collaboration between humans and the earth and cows for thousands of years. There are so many positive benefits, and it is a huge reason why our product is any good at all.
We also have more incidental environmental practices. All of our cups, napkins, and spoons are compostable. Also, all ice cream shops have a dipper well, which is what the ice cream scooper sits in inbetween flavor scoops. We have a really unique, German designed dipper well that does not run on a consistent basis like most, but sprays on demand when you need a scooper to be rinsed. This saves an insane amount of water on a day to day basis.
And finally, why Inspire?
Pete: It was a pretty simple decision as it completely resonates with one of our fundamental core values. Renewable sources of energy are superior in my mind, and the way Inspire does it, there is no operational change to the business. It's just super simple and it was easy to say yes.
Sustainably Minded Ice Cream At:
Little Baby's Ice Cream World Headquarters
2311 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125