December 04, 2014

An Interview with "In Your Face"

Editor's Note: When I tell people about April Miller of In Your Face Cookies & Ice Cream, I tell them she's my "blogging friend". We met one day for coffee and had a grand chat about our gifting philosophies (which are quite similar). You may have noticed that I've been gifting pints of April's handmade ice cream lately, complete with festive candles, for several birthday occasions. Let's meet April as she talks about gifting and a little bit about her business!

How have your customers been gifting your ice cream?
Customers have been gifting the ice cream for special occasions. I've had customers give Birthday Cake ice cream with the number for the age on top in sprinkles to kids. This is an awesome option for kids - parents are likely relieved not to have yet another toy in their home and this gift feels more personal. Some customers have ordered ice cream cakes or pies for loved ones, or pints in their spouses's favourite flavours. I've gifted the ice cream myself as well; I made my husband an ice cream cake for his birthday and one for my dad for Father's Day - it's always a popular gift! 

What's your gifting philosophy?
I've refined my gift giving philosophy and style over the last few years - I like gifts to be thoughtful, personal, and not burden the person. I really feel passionately that a gift should reflect the recipient, not the giver

I love giving the perfect gift for the person; I have a list for each person I gift to and whenever I hear them say something they really want or need, I put it on the list. It makes shopping a more pleasant experience since I'm looking for what they want, instead of being stressed about what I'm going to get them - it makes the experience about them, not me. Using lists for gift giving also makes me a better listener - I listen closely for gift ideas, which has the bonus of strengthening relationships since I 'm working on listening most of the time! 

I'm a professional organizer in my full-time gig so I am really passionate about not burdening people with 'stuff' - for that reason, I'm anti-gag gifts and mindless gifting (I also don't believe that because someone gives something to you that you should keep it forever out of guilt)!  Just this past year, a friend explained her philosophy of gifting - she loves to gift experiences instead of stuff. That's something I'd like to move towards. I recently read about a woman who didn't have kids so she took each of her nieces and nephews on a trip to a place of their choosing when they turned 13. The catch was that instead of giving them gifts for every occasion, she put money aside for the trip. I wish I had set that precedent with my nieces and nephews when they were little! 

Do you have any gifting tips for others?
My biggest gifting lesson I've learned over the past few years is that most people want the gift of your time - especially children.  But on a more practical note...Avoid shopping when the occasion is on top of you - that equals stress and thoughtless gifting. Start keeping a list (I like using an app because it's easily edited and shared) and start listening. Try giving gift certificates for experiences. Also, avoid gifting based on judgements - 'I think my daughter should cook more so I'll give her a slow cooker', for example. Give to the person, not to who you want them to be!

What's the best gift you've ever given or received!
This is a tough one - I feel like I should say my wedding ring or something ha ha! But it would have to be from "The Car Topper Surprise" Christmas as it's known in my family.

This one Christmas, after we had opened our gifts, our dad told us there was one more gift for everyone in the dining room. He'd moved our car topper (those things families store luggage in) in from the garage and the gifts were inside it. My dad passed out one gift at a time and we all watched each person open theirs. It was so surprising and suspenseful! My gift was a tv (my mom had said I couldn't have a tv in my room!), but it wasn't about the gift really. It was that Dad had gone out of his way to get something for each of us that we really wanted (my mom typically did the shopping) and the presentation was the best! I'll never forget the expression on my dad's face and how happy we all were. It's one of my favourite Christmas memories. 

Tell us a little bit about your business. How did you get started? What's does the "ice cream business" mean for you?

I started making ice cream on a fluke. I was roaming Costco and bought an ice cream machine on impulse. I became pretty obsessed with making ice cream but also with learning about all the artisan ice cream shops and market stalls that seem to have popped up all over the US and Canada. I love the idea of taking really simple ingredients and turning them into something people love!

I'm all about real ingredients - no preservatives or weird chemically stuff here! Just cream, milk, sugar, eggs, and whatever add-ins are needed for flavour. I've also been really inspired by paleta food truck culture for my freezies. Paletas are essentially popsicles made with fresh fruit and other quality ingredients. My most kid-frendly flavour is strawberry but I've made everything from Rhubarb Lemonade to Vietnamese Coffee. I eat more freezies more often than I should admit! I also make Vegan ice cream and have done flavours like Mexican Chocolate (my biggest Vegan seller), Fudge Chunk, Curried Peanut Butter, and German Chocolate Cake. 

How do you celebrate special occasions?

Usually just spending time with loved ones and good food! I've gotten more into doing things like lighthouse picnics for birthdays or anniversaries - more experiences than stuff. I don't think something has to be really expensive to be special. My husband and I take turns planning Valentine's Day and one year we did a $20 gift challenge and it was awesome! This past year, my friends went to Basho for dinner for my birthday and my husband made loot bags for everyone (kid-type ones, not adult) - I loved that.

Where can local customers find you?

Customers can find me at the St. John's Farmer's Market, Some Good Market at Cannonwood Hall, or contact me directly to purchase. This Fall I'll also be at Tombolo in Paradise and St. John's, as well as the NL Sports Centre Craft and Gift Fair.

You can find In Your Face Cookies and Ice Cream on Facebook and Twitter


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