How can an ice cream business start out in a sociology class? It's a bit of a stretch, but here goes: When Alexis (Miesen) Gallivan went from high school in Rocky River to the University of Michigan, that was her major.
"Back then," says the 41-year-old entrepreneur, "if you wanted to do good in the world, taking sociology [the study of social problems] was the only way." After a getting a masters in nonprofit management from Columbia University, working jobs around the globe, and, oh yeah, following her lifelong love of ice cream, Gallivan co-founded Blue Marble Ice Cream Co. in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The doing-good-in-the-world piece? In some eyes, making ice cream might be enough. But this award-winning product (New York Times, Food & Wine) is certified organic, meaning no pesticides, growth hormones or genetically engineered ingredients. Plus, its success helped create sister ice cream shops in Rwanda and Haiti, as well as internships at the home shop for high school students from the South Bronx.
A film about the Rwandan store, Sweet Dreams, made the film festival circuit a few years ago, and was screened at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Now, almost 10 years after Gallivan and her business partner, Jennie Dundas, opened their doors, Blue Marble is in the freezer cases at Heinen's.
"We're so excited to be in Cleveland," Gallivan said by phone recently. "The idea that people I went to high school with could be feeding their children our ice cream is such an honor and a thrill. It's like coming full circle."