We’ve seen subscription boxes of all kinds. Makeup samples, snacks, organic food, clothes even. But the day has come when we finally have the one subscription service that beats all others — ice cream.
Why hasn’t this been done sooner? Well, ice cream is a tricky product to deal with in terms of logistics, and every subscription service relies heavily on the surprise factor. But Natasha Chiam has created a service called Pint Society, where each month, subscribers receive two pints of a brand new, hand-crafted mystery ice cream flavour, conceived by the Pint Society ice cream team.
We spoke to Chiam, the brains behind the gourmet dessert subscription. Previously a practicing lawyer and writer at Female magazine, she left the field to begin Ice Cream & Cookie Co., Singapore’s first gourmet ice cream sandwich company. When asked how she first came up with the idea of starting an ice cream company, she simply said, “I always say it started with a craving!”
How did the idea for Pint Society come about?
The Ice Cream & Cookie Co. is now primarily a B2B business, which means the process for launching new products is much more lengthy and involved than if it were B2C. When your customers are companies, you can’t just launch new flavours all the time because they need consistency and continuity. Pint Society is a way for us to be truly experimental without those constraints. We have the opportunity use very seasonal or hard-to-find ingredients because each flavour is one-off.
I understand that you used to be a practicing lawyer! What was it about starting an ice cream business that appealed to you to make the switch?
I always had a strong interest in food, and also in business as my dad was an entrepreneur. Food is a great connector, it’s about sharing, conversation and good times. The Ice Cream & Cookie Co. started very organically, so it wasn’t a calculated move from day-job to small business. It was a gradual shift.
What was it about the idea of a subscription plan that appealed to you?
Subscriptions are so convenient. Magazine or newspaper subscriptions have been around for ages, so this is a new take on a tried and tested service. People nowadays are so busy, it’s nice to have someone do the thinking and the work for you. Subscribers just have to sign up once and the surprises keep coming.
Describe to us what goes on behind the scenes before a Pint Society shipment.
I imagine it’s similar to any kind of shipment — you pack and dispatch the goods, making sure the delivery times and addresses are accurate. We have the added challenge of delivering products that melt (especially in our Singapore weather).
How do you come up with the special flavours for each month?
We brainstorm, and do some testing. We might start with a basic flavour profile, for example — chocolate, or caramel, or fruit. Then we think about how we can make it interesting, with mix-ins, sauces or other fun textures. Every part needs to meld together nicely to make that perfect scoop.
How many subscribers do you have now, and what has the reception been like?
I can’t give away the exact number, but reception has been very positive. Once people hear about the idea, their faces light up! They get excited about the new flavours, and think it makes an awesome gift.
What is the recipe for a successful ice cream business?
Start with good quality ice cream. Your product is key to your business. I don’t believe in ‘secret recipes’ — these days with the Internet nothing is a secret. Ice cream recipes are actually quite scientific, as in, there are relatively standard ratios of fat to water to sugar etc. If you follow that properly, and use good ingredients and techniques, you’ll have good results.
Which ice cream flavour that you’ve invented is your all-time favourite?
Toasted Marshmallow. It makes me feel nostalgic, it reminds me of toasting marshmallows by the fire as a kid! It’s got that caramelised flavour that’s sweet yet smoky.
What are some of the best feedback you’ve received about Pint Society?
We haven’t done our first official delivery yet so it’s a bit early for feedback. We have however been getting some interesting flavour requests through our website — everything from churros & gula melaka to figs, blue cheese & honey!
You can subscribe to Pint Society via their website.