They don’t refer to themselves as CEO’s or owners, they’re ‘laborers’. “A lot of people like to say that they’re the CEO of this or owner of that, I always say we’re the laborers, we do everything, mop the floors, every single thing as a small business owner” says Elvis Percentie. After all, Shiver Premium Ice Cream which he and Melissa Darville started two years ago is the quintessential ‘home business’. It currently markets 10 flavors of sorbet such as mango, passion fruit, tamarind and soursop; made with real fruit, no preservatives.
“Elvis bought me a small ice cream machine for my birthday and we would make ice cream on the weekends when we had family barbecues. From there, he said we should try and see if we could make this into a business. We ran into the passion fruit and the tamarind and we said let’s try making sorbets; before that we were making gelatos. We found however that they melted so quickly because of consistency and everything else. We started out with fruit sorbets and that’s how we ended up with where we are now,” says Melissa, who left the teaching profession to pursue the dream of operating her own ice-cream business.
Elvis, a computer engineer by profession says that they waited for two years before they sold their product commercially. “We planned for two years before we sold the first commercial batch. “We didn’t want to come out with a subpar product. Google became our friend. We did our research. We wanted people to judge our product on the same level that they would judge a Nestle or Häagen–Dazs. We are still trying to grow, still trying to get things together.”
“Most our clients came really through word of mouth because we would drop off little bags with samples to all of ours friends at their workplace and then through that that’s how we got started with our deliveries,” says Melissa.
“It was great that we did the sorbet because we were into island flavors like tamarind, soursop and mango,” says Elvis. “Tamarind is not something that you see in the ice cream aisle.” Shiver Premium Ice cream is distributed locally by Fun food Wholesale, also the distributors of a Nestle and Häagen–Dazs and can be found in stores like Super Value. “They’re probably the biggest ice-cream distributor in The Bahamas and it was great that they gave us an opportunity. They gave a young company, maybe six months old at the time a chance. Sometimes you need a helping hand. There isn’t enough of that and we’re truly grateful.” Elvis and Melissa say that family support has also been key in helping them get the businesses up and running.
“We are going to cut back down on the flavors to five or six. We have strawberry, strawberry lemon, guava, pineapple, lemon, mango, passion fruit, tamarind and sour-sop and tropical. We’re going to move to ice-cream and we’re designing the cup right now. We’re trying to move from a small to a medium business. We’re trying to launch the ice-cream line early next year, by March the latest. We’re going to be fully committed to the ice-cream,” says Elvis.
Melissa and Elvis say that they are excited about the growth potential of their business. “She was working from six in the morning to until about six or seven in the evening coming home tired and didn’t have time for the kids. We see the growth potential. Right now she can control her time,” says Elvis.