Standing with friends outside her storefront on Georgia Avenue in Washington, D.C., Karin Sellers is all smiles.
It’s been over a month since the D.C. native opened the first ice cream shop in Columbia Heights owned by a black woman, and the response from the community to Here’s The Scoop has been “amazing,” she says.
“It has been so positive,” Sellers, 48, tells HuffPost. “People will come in and just express gratitude that we’re here. I really feel that a void has been filled and it’s been remarkable.”
Members of the neighborhood have made a point to support the fledgling business. Students from the nearby Howard University, neighborhood residents and others from the surrounding areas have already made multiple trips to grab a bite of the store’s delicious treats.
“A tour bus just went by and she was talking about how when he takes people on tours, he actually brings them here to the store,” says Evelyn Gainous, who has known Sellers since she was a high school student in Bladensburg, Maryland.
The shop offers a variety of ice cream and dessert items, from milkshakes and sundaes to pies and cupcakes.
A longtime entrepreneur, Sellers has had her eye on opening an ice cream parlor in her hometown for a while.
“I’ve actually had a desire to open a place like this because I felt that it was something missing in this community,” Sellers says. “I felt that the community needed a place that was really community-based, that made people happy, no bulletproof glass or anything like that, but somewhere they could come in and be treated really well.”
In 2018, Sellers was awarded $50,000 in funding to open the ice cream store through a grant that the city’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development offers to upstart businesses. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy ― they create jobs and business for DC residents and neighborhoods and help us give Washingtonians in all eight wards a fair shot,” Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement at the time.
But what makes this particular ice cream shop so special is not only its delectable treats — it doubles as an incubator for black talent. Most of Sellers’ employees are young, aspiring bakers who have plans to open up shops of their own one day.
“I want it to be a place that will be a platform for other businesses to get started,” she says. “A lot of my bakers are up-and-coming bakers who are taking their talents to another level. Not just baking out of your house, but I hope they can eventually open up a brick and mortar for themselves through this experience.”
Sellers eventually plans to host community seminars and pop-ups at the store, allowing for consumers to come away with not only a scoop of ice cream but a scoop of information as well.
Choosing to forgo attending college was a difficult decision for Sellers, but she says she was able to create her own path in life thanks to her father’s support. “I did it all in honor of my father,” she says.
Sellers also has a bit of advice for young black entrepreneurs looking to open their own stores one day: “If you have a vision, stick with it and do your research. You’re going to doubt yourself, but stick with it and own it.”