Bethesda, MD

Immigrant Family of Single Mom and Millennial Daughter Makes $230,000 a Year With Ice Cream Shop Business

Lara Ford

* This post was written with the help of AI

Back in 2019, former deli shop owner, Sarah, wasn't content with retirement. So, she decided to shake things up by opening an ice cream shop in Bethesda, Maryland.

However, she needed a little help from her daughter, Park, to get the store up and running. At the time, Annie Park, her daughter and a Harvard graduate was backpacking through Southeast Asia, getting to know the world and her cultural heritage, when her mother’s call altered the course of her career forever.

When Annie Park's mom shared that she wanted to open an ice cream shop, Park admits she wasn't thrilled at first. However, being the only daughter of a single mom in an immigrant family, she knew she couldn't ignore the opportunity to help her mother.

Despite her reservations, Park put her education policy and management degree from Harvard on hold to support her mom's initiative.

Park's mother's passion for homemade ice cream has led to the creation of delicious and natural treats and creative flavor blends. She was already doing that for the family as a hobby, so why not take it one step further and make it into a business? But when she did, Sarah kept the tradition of using only real ingredients such as fresh strawberries, instead of artificial flavors and sweeteners that are usually used by commercial ice cream makers.

The ice cream shop opening in March 2019 was a roaring success, with queues snaking around the block until they closed at 9 pm. Annie was astonished by the turnout, saying "It was beyond anything we could have imagined.

It was all hands on deck for Park and her mother on the opening day of their ice cream shop. With so much on the line, they worked tirelessly until 3 a.m. whipping up more sweet treats for their eager customers. Sleep-deprived but motivated, they knew the hard work was just beginning as they geared up for another busy day.

Sarah and Annie's handmade ice cream expanded rapidly from the start. Within a year, a second store in the D.C. area was already up and running. And the scoop doesn't stop there – the popular ice cream spot is planning to open a third location in Potomac, Maryland in December of 2023.

Although Annie initially intended to assist for only a brief duration, she decided to take on a full-time role as a business partner. The company now boasts 35 employees and yearly revenue of $1.86 million.

Park's total income for 2022 amounted to a whopping $230,000, consisting of a salary of $118,625 and the profits from the second store, which her mother co-partnered with her, amounting to $111,677.

Annie Park's journey from Seoul, South Korea to the United States is a tale of resilience and determination. Born and raised in Seoul, at 9 years old, she and her mother took a bold step and left for Maryland, USA.

Annie's mother was searching for better job prospects and wanted to avoid the social stigma associated with being a working single mother in South Korean culture.

Sarah was a hardworking individual who juggled two to three jobs while learning a new language.

Throughout her journey, she adhered to a strict budget, only spending money on the necessities of life. As a single mother, her top priority was to teach Annie that material wealth doesn't equate to true happiness. While making money is important, endlessly chasing after it only leads to an insatiable desire for more.

Although it was a successful grand opening for Sarah's Handmade Ice Cream, it took over six months for the business to become "a well-oiled machine". Despite the challenges, the shop persisted and eventually reached peak performance.

These days the Bethesda store rakes in almost $1.1 million in yearly revenue, while the North Bethesda location sees annual earnings of around $767,000. Impressive numbers that tell a tale of two successful stores.

The ice cream shops also gained a devoted following with unique marketing strategy. By donating to local nonprofits and community groups, the mother-daughter team behind the store has captured attention without a traditional marketing budget.

What’s more, in a bid to cultivate and inspire possible leaders from within the ranks of her own employees, Annie is also offering a leadership program for her people, who are mostly high school students. The program is aimed at nurturing career growth irrespective of skill level, and rewards loyalty. With a steadfast commitment to promoting her own people, Park's policy is to hire shift supervisors from within the ranks of the staff, making it an opportunity hub for aspiring leaders.


What are your thoughts on this dynamic mother-daughter business? What do you think the keys to their success are? Let us know the comments.

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Source: CNBC

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