5 Questions with - Cream Parlor

This is a 5 Questions post I am so excited about! One of my favorite spots around town is Cream Parlor—a sandwich and ice cream shop on Biscayne Blvd. Although it’s been open less than a year, when you walk in you immediately feel like you’ve stepped into your neighborhood ice cream parlor/cheers bar/stylish bff’s house. It’s adorned with vintage finds, husband and wife team Ainsley and Johnny, and the entire staff (which most of the time includes their 11 year old son, Zach) that makes you feel right at home. Then comes the food, and you seriously want to buy a cot and just camp out! Everything from tartines using Zac the Baker’s bread to the yummiest local ice cream around, it is a rare gem in Miami. I recently spoke with Johnny and Ainsley about why they decided to start Cream and what advice they have for folks looking to make the leap. Read on and then RUN over there, I promise you will not be disappointed.  

When did you make the big decision to start your own business? What inspired you? What scared you?

Johnny: Ainsley and I have always been entrepreneurs in spirit, whether as individuals or together as a team, so it was a natural progression. The decision was solidified when we were ready to break out of our day job/daily routines. Our tank (in that sense) was empty and we decided to finally take the all too frightening first leap forward. The thought was, “It was about time we got back into business for ourselves.” After all, we have so much to offer our community and we were eager to share it. 

Ainsley: So true. You know, our biggest fear going into this was doing it alone, physically, without any family members close by. We have always had their support anytime we needed it; but, it has only been Johnny and me (along with our, now, twelve-year-old son Zach) in Miami with no actual safety net to fall back on. Once we made that first leap forward, there was no going back. I think that would be anyone’s fear, of course. 

J: Also, we have to realize that part of what scares us also inspires us to keep moving forward. We had each other’s commitment, and our personal point of no return was the very first moment we decided to do this. The lack of that safety net naturally became a driving force. We never thought for a moment to go back on our decision or to our former jobs and lives. And now, seeing such happy people fill our shop and our lives, every day, reassures us of our decision and that continues to inspire us.

What has surprised you most about this process?

A: What surprised me the most was how many rules there were in the confusing process of green-lighting our small business and how many permits needed to be granted before we could even think about opening our doors!

J: Oh man, yes! I was really surprised—and kind of caught off-guard—with how unclear and difficult (and expensive!) the build-out and permitting processes were. It sometimes felt insurmountable, drowning us day after day without any relief. Luckily, we had each other to lean on (without a safety net—ha ha) as well as some amazing people along the way who helped us navigate those waters. We’ve been very fortunate to have had certain people who were in our corner through that process.

What do you wish you’d known before starting your business? Any advice for future small business entrepreneurs?

A: There's nothing I wish that I knew before starting Cream Parlor because everything that has happened has led us to where we are now. These experiences have made us smarter and stronger and we are so thankful for that.

J: I’m with Ainsley on this one. I wouldn’t want any additional insight—to be completely transparent here. I feel like anything we would have known ahead of time might have been a barrier to entry. If someone knows all the difficulties one would face, might they think it would be too difficult to take that first leap forward? I’ve found that much of the beauty of doing this has been discovering things as we went along. The only advice I have is to be true to yourself and very comfortable fumbling around in the dark. I mean it. I know it sounds like a joke, but so much of this relies on being ready for anything—and I mean anything—hence, the fumbling in the dark. If you can master that, you are ready to take this on.

Where do you go in Miami when you’re looking for inspiration?

J: This city is full of beautiful people and places to be inspired by; however, I think our own greatest source of inspiration is right here in our imaginations. Miami is a very inspiring city, indeed, and it’s only been getting better and better. Being close to the water also opens up the mind for new and limitless ideas. Naturally, ideas will flow. Also, being surrounded by great people who are doing amazing things makes me feel at home.

A: Agreed one hundred percent!

What local group or business do you look up to?

J: We have lots of small businesses here run by people with great and exciting minds. Lots of people acting locally and thinking globally kind of thing. I think it’s safe to say we look up to anyone who chooses to actualize their dreams on a daily basis: small business owners or small business supporters; concert promoters or concert goers; those who contribute positively to the great communities that make Miami unique. We are each responsible for shaping Miami as we know it.

A: I really admire people who do things for the betterment of their community and for others. I also have a great amount of respect for those who open up their own businesses—especially seeing how much works goes into it.

J: Being part of this community is an extraordinary experience! We look forward to each day as we grow with this beautiful city we call home.

Katie Blais