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Dec 31, 2020

Nice Cream – a sweet story of success in Hopkins!

Last week we showed you the first part of our story with two enterprising sisters from Hopkins. In tonight’s follow-up, the owners of Nice Cream share more about running their business and how they have managed to balance work and home life. The siblings serve up some sound business advice – they are sharing their own challenges as they navigate the turbulent business climate during this pandemic.  If you are planning to start your own small business or have already done so – you may want to listen to some of the advice from Marissa Lewis Robinson and Kyra Lewis in the following story:


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

When sisters Marissa Lewis Robinson and Kyra Lewis decided to go into business together, nothing could have prepared them for the risks they have taken and the successes they have reaped together. But they knew one thing – they were better off working together than apart at their business – Nice Cream in Hopkins:


Marissa Lewis Robinson, Co-owner, Nice Cream

Marissa Lewis Robinson

“Kyra and I we have this bond – we really do. It is crazy. Kyra would say Marissa focus on what you are good at and I will focus on what I am good at. So, it is just about playing on our strengths and weaknesses.”

Kyra Lewis, Co-Owner, Nice Cream

“I am a good at making the ice cream because sometime Marissa would forget to put the sugar in. But she is better at the Instagram, the facebook, the marketing, the decorations and then helping me with other things making the waffle cones. So, we learn to balance each other out.”


And that balance has shaped Nice Cream into a local hotspot in Hopkins. It brings people together for refreshing treats at this colorful and welcoming outdoor space. Today, despite the tough economic times brought on by COVID-19, locals and expats alike, particularly from Hopkins and surrounding areas, support the quality and home-made taste of Nice Cream:


Malcolm Shaw

Malcolm Shaw, Customer, Nice Cream

“I spend six or seven months each year in Hopkins. I come from the UK. I am semi-retired and I live very close to where the ice cream is made. So, it is very easy to slip around. I only have one favourite and that is rum and raisin. It is really, really good.”


Andrea Polanco

“What keeps you coming back to Nice Cream when you are in Belize?”


Malcolm Shaw

“Simply because it is an authentic hand-made, home-made ice cream and it taste a bit better than the mass produced ice cream; a bit more novel.”


Belinda  Lacquisiere, Customer, Nice Cream

Belinda Lacquisiere

“I am enjoying Nice Cream since they have opened. My favourite one is the vanilla; the toasted coconut and rum and raisin. It is different; for me it is nicer; creamy; different flavour.”


Damian Grieco

Damian Grieco, Customer, Nice Cream

“I’ve been coming here since they opened. I think it is a couple years now. I live right down the street. We have a hotel and restaurant down there and tourists when they come they want to try something that is local and authentic. So, it is so great to be able to send guests there because Americans know what ice cream is but here they make it with all local ingredients and they make a cone that is out of cassava; they always have different flavours that are fantastic. So, it really is delicious and gives tourists and myself a place to go where they take a lot of pride in making things locally.”


And as you heard, tourists have also kept Nice Cream busy during the tourist season. But with COVID-19, when the tourists stopped coming to Belize, the Lewis sisters haven’t only had to work harder but smarter– like getting their ice cream into supermarkets in the south – but even that came with its challenges:


Kyra Lewis

Kyra Lewis

“One of the changes we have made is that we have started to take our ice creams into the stores, introduce it into the stores. So, they can find it there so that we can avoid people going to a lot of places. So, if they can just go to the grocery stores and get their essentials as well that is perfect for them. So, that is one of the ways we have done just to try to keep afloat. One of the challenges that we face is that we started out with seven or eight stores at the beginning of the pandemic and the orders were becoming less and less because they said that people were not – well, the pandemic – so for now we only have our ice cream in three or four stores. Three have said; wait until after the pandemic or wait until I call you. But the plan is to continue to take it farther. So, the plan is to continue to see how things and goes and make sure that our store here can provide the best service and the best ice cream possible that people can come from afar and taste our ice cream.”


Although times are tough, they are optimistic about the future. What these sisters want you to know is that they started out small – seven flavors of ice cream and today boast twenty flavors and a range of different tasty treats. They didn’t have to put themselves in a mountain of debt – they found something they are passionate about and got it going with the support of their family and their village. For these two moms, being entrepreneurial has empowered them to provide for their family and to contribute to the community:


Marissa Lewis – Robinson

“It is a good feeling – having someone there – like – laughs. Through the good days and the bad days – having that emotional support and encourage. See, I am getting a little emotional because it means a lot to me; it does; it does. And the community support as well – we couldn’t do it without the Hopkins; without Dangriga; Sittee River. The support has been overwhelming. They love Nice Cream and we really, really appreciate that.”

Kyra Lewis

“I get to do it at home. I go from my bed to the ice cream shop. I have my family and my mom cooks and the so the most rewarding is just doing it with family and seeing that the business is thriving and feeling good that you can create and become more.”


And if you are wondering when is the best time to start a business– this pair of business owners says that the time is right now. They have learned many lessons along the way – and they hope you can pick up one or two lessons from their experience, as you embark on your small business journey:


Marissa Lewis Robinson

“Keep an open mind; focus on the goal and challenge yourself every day. Like you said, for families, if Kyra wasn’t around I would be struggling most days.  I have a toddler. I don’t have a baby sitter. It is hard. But just to have that family support.”


Andrea Polanco

“So, the family support helps you to balance things?”


Marissa Lewis Robinson

“Yes, to have those people pushing you that are praising you and telling you don’t give up. Right now you may not understand but it is all coming together, slowly but surely and it will. It will. It will.”


Kyra Lewis

“I find that when you own your own business you think that you are your own boss and you can do whatever you want to do or however you want to do. But it is not that way. When you are a business owner, you need to work harder than when you are being employed by someone else. Just do not get discouraged, like for example, our sales for the day is twenty dollars when we barely see anyone but we realize and observe ourselves what are we doing wrong – how can we get better. What other strategy can we do? So sometimes we do a promotion or more advertisement. You have to be creative; have an open mind and watch your customers. They will tell you. When they are coming – they will tell you are doing something good and when they are not coming then what am I not doing right? People love sweet stuff and its one of the things they can never go wrong – people always love ice cream (laugh) – so that is one of the things that has been keeping us up.”


Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.


Nice Cream plans to expand its operations and get its products into more stores around the country. If you are passing through Hopkins over the holidays, you can check out Nice Cream’s holiday line of customizable Christmas Sundaes.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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