For Kristen Stewart, ice cream has always been her go-to treat. She considers the frozen dessert to be a perfect compliment to a good day and the reliable antidote to help get through the bad ones.
Stewart, 48, noticed how the pandemic was emotionally affecting people and realized that a sweet treat would be a good way to help.
“The pandemic has been filled with uncertainty and so much sadness,” the Greensboro native told QCity Metro. ”Ice cream is the joy that people need.”
In August of 2021, she created “Urban Sweets,” a pushcart ice cream shop that she would use to travel selling her variety of frozen dessert flavors.
Her signature flavors include Queen City Cream (vanilla), Uptown Choco Brown, Ballantyne Butter Pecan, and customer-favorite Dilworth Delight (cookies and cream), among others.
Currently, she is offering hand scooped ice cream in cones, cups and pints. Cones or Cups are $5 each and pints are $9 each or four for $30.
Customers can also get annual membership plans for $300 (paid in full or divided monthly) for pint service which provides four pints of any flavor each month. Urban Sweets is also available for event catering, beginning at $250.
Stewart wants her business to become one of Charlotte’s go-to ice cream stops but her journey as an entrepreneur came with some risks.
After over 13 years of working in marketing and sales, she left her job in pursuit of being a full-time entreprenuer.
“I decided that I needed to do something a little more fun and provide a different type of reward,” she said.
For Stewart, the reward has been meeting new people and seeing the joy they get when trying her treats.
“People were looking for just a little bit of comfort (during the pandemic),” she said, “and ice cream is definitely a comfort food.”
Stewart said her pushcart — she calls it “Sweetie” — allows her business to be “agile and adaptable.”
Like any small business, Stewart said her mobile ice cream shop has faced its share of struggles.
Lack of supplies and rising inflation were temporary problems, she said. And the high cost of commercial real estate in Charlotte meant that she had to defer her dream to open a brick-and-mortar shop and kickstart her business in a different way.
Stewart’s first opportunity to serve her ice cream was at brunch events for Good Life at Enderly Park.
“They gave me my first chance to be a vendor and I made $178,” she said. “It felt like I made a million dollars that day. It was just so rewarding to hear people say the ice cream was good.”
Urban Sweets has participated in a number of pop up shops and festivals including Bayhaven Food Festival, Charlotte SHOUT!, Girl Tribe Pop Up, Small Business Saturday in South End, South End Farmer’s Market, among others.
She has also expanded her services by selling cupcakes, painted chocolates, s’mores, hot chocolates, loose leaf teas and assorted candy trays.
Urban Sweets will have its first brick-and-mortar location in South End at Centro Square in June. Milkshakes and sundaes will be also be served at her new location.
Steward, who currently works alone, plans to hire staff for her new shop.
Though she has a permanent location, she doesn’t plan to retire Sweetie anytime soon. She will continue to use her pushcart to participate in more events across the city.
“To make our dreams come true, we need the support of the community,” she said.
To keep up with Urban Sweets, follow the business on Instagram.