New for 2016, every Tuesday we delve into the day-to-day diary of a member of the local business community. This week we put the spotlight on Hadi Brooks, founder of the family run home made ice cream business Rays Ice Cream in Swindon’s Old Town.
Rays Ice Cream makes around 200 ice cream flavours on site. Of these, a choice of 16 is available at its shop at any one time. The company sources many of its key ingredients, including whole milk, double cream and fruit, locally.
The shop is called Rays Ice Cream after the sun’s rays which forms the basis of their logo. Hadi came up with the idea to open an ice cream shop as the whole of her family love ice cream and it complements her background in food marketing.
What time does your alarm go off?
What’s the first thing you do?
My first job of the day is to wake up my four year old daughter and get her ready for school.
How long does it take to make a batch of ice cream?
We have to pasteurise the batch first, we tend to do this in large quantities, about 60L at a time. The pasteurising process takes approximately three hours and then we need to let it ‘age’ for a further three hours to ensure the best quality ice cream. We then take smaller quantities of the pasteurised ‘base’, flavour and then freeze them to produce the ice cream, it’s called batch freezing. We make approx 10L at a time and it takes about 20 minutes.
What’s the most popular flavour?
Royal Bourbon vanilla! It’s amazing, we make so many fantastic flavours but we still sell more vanilla than any other flavour! We do use a really good vanilla pod – it’s from Madagascar and is considered to be the best you can buy. This is closely followed by chocolate, raspberry ripple, salted caramel and bubblegum at the moment.
What do you do for lunch?
It depends. Often I don’t have time for anything substantial, so I just tend to snack on the run.
What do you love most about your job?
As I run my own business, having flexibility and being in control is key. As I sell and make ice cream for a living, it is a great pleasure to make something which people love. Also, because Rays Ice Cream is located in the heart of Old Town, Swindon, there is a great sense of community. I get to meet so many new characters as well as seeing my loyal regulars.
What’s the worst part of the job?
January! Many people associate us with ice cream and not our hot drinks and homemade waffles, so it can be a long month.
What executive tool/ gadget could you not live without?
Recently I have been making the most of my smartphone when I work. It has been fantastic for social media marketing; having the ability to update our customers whenever and wherever I am is an invaluable asset.
What do you do after work?
In the evenings it is a great chance to play with my daughter. When I eventually get her to bed, I’ll have my own dinner, often with the laptop on my knee to catch up on paperwork.
If you changed direction, what would be your Plan B?
My plan B would be to do exactly what I am doing now, but somewhere warmer by the sea!