Some large corporations looking to capitalize on Juneteenth now that it's a federal holiday were met with backlash. And after one such debacle with Walmart (WMT), Black-owned ice cream brand Creamalicious suddenly saw a surge in demand.
“We've had a ton of support,” Liz Rogers, founder of Creamalicious, told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “I've just really been really excited about just the brand in general, just expanding, and just meeting all of the Creamalicious fans across the country. It's been extremely inspiring. And it's been amazing brand awareness, to say the least.”
Walmart pulled a Juneteenth-themed ice cream product in May after consumers took to social media to criticize the big-name retailer, alleging that it copied the red velvet cheesecake flavor from Creamalicious. According to Rogers, demand for her ice cream soared overnight.
Creamalicious, which boasts Southern-inspired ice cream flavors, had been growing before the controversy and made its way into stores like Walmart and Target.
“Creamalicious — you know, I'm the underdog," Rogers said. "I'm right there next to Ben & Jerry's and Nestlé and Haagen-Dazs. These brands are giants. Just growing up, I looked up to these brands. They have really great staying powers. And they have a huge machine behind them. So what I try to do is, I don't compete with the bigger brands. I created my own dessert category.”
Rogers said that having a Black-owned brand is a “piece of it,” but “we shouldn't lead with that because I don't think any brand's leading with the color of their skin.”
She also stressed how important it is to support minority-owned businesses like hers that don’t necessarily have all of the resources to compete in crowded markets and voiced support for the 15 Percent Pledge, which encourages retailers to dedicate 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands. (Walmart and Target have yet to commit to the pledge, which has been signed by other companies like Sephora, Macy's, and Yelp.)
“I do like the 15% Pledge because there has not been an African-American in mass production as it relates to ice cream that's national, in the masses,” Rogers said. “We do have African-American-owned ice cream manufacturers that are regional. But I'd like to see more of that.”
She added that "we do have the opportunity to go into the retailers, but we do need resources to stay and to sustain the brand. There needs to be resources allocated to smaller businesses. … It needs to be an even playing scale.”
Rogers expanded her brand's visibility by striking a deal with McAlister's Deli to produce an ice cream version of the restaurant chain's signature sweet tea.
“They're super famous for their iced tea, and that was a really cool situation for me because I got an opportunity to really taste their iced tea, make the ice cream with the iced tea flavors and components, and really bring a two-in-one dessert to market,” Rogers said. “So that was a really big learning experience for me. And I'm doing a lot more of that."
Rogers noted that she built a strong team that's prepared for whatever challenges and opportunities may come, whether they be more brand deals or social media virality.
"Creamalicious is extremely innovative," Rogers said. "We're very agile. We can make fast moves. So when things come about in opportunities, that is, for Creamalicious, we're able to move on things a lot quicker, without having to go through so much red tape."
Edwin is a producer for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter @Edwin__Roman.