Teens use pontoon to launch new ice cream business on a western Minnesota lake
Ice Cream Island owners Hallie Strem, Brooklyn Strem and Mya Haaven keep their pontoon at Oak Cove Resort and Marine on Maple Lake. They drive to locations around the lake, drop an anchor and start selling ice cream.
MENTOR, Minn. — Three young entrepreneurs have found a way to make weekends at the lake work for them.
Hallie Strem, 19, Brooklyn Strem, 17, and Mya Haaven, 14, this year launched a business on Maple Lake called Ice Cream Island.
The three young women from Fertile, Minnesota, founded their business because they have traditionally spent weekends from May until September at the lake with their families and didn’t want that to change when they were old enough to get summer jobs.
''It was hard to leave the lake on beautiful days,” Hallie said.
When the Strems’ parents came back from a Florida vacation this past winter and told them about a business that sold ice cream on a lake there, the Strem sisters and Haaven decided to to start a similar business on Maple Lake.
In January 2021, they began working on the start-up of Ice Cream Island.
“We bought a pontoon and we fixed it up, and changed it completely," Hallie said. The sisters and their cousin replaced the flooring, removed seats to make room for a freezer and installed a generator in the rear of the pontoon. They also wrapped the pontoon exterior with aluminum siding that has a large sticker with their business name on it.
Besides physical labor, starting the business also required filling out a lot of paperwork.
''There was a lot more research and forms and planning than we had ever imagined," Hallie said. That included obtaining a license from the state to operate the business, finding an ice cream distributor and figuring out how to keep the product cold.
But by late spring, the sisters and their cousin had the pontoon ready and the paperwork in order. On June 6, Ice Cream Island was launched.
Ice Cream Island’s owners keep the pontoon at Oak Cove Resort and Marine on Maple Lake, where they put the watercraft in the water, then drive to locations around the lake. Once at their desired location, they drop anchor and start selling. The three owners get help with the business from their friend Tyra Burke, of Fertile, who assists them with sales and marketing.
Besides selling ice cream from Maple Lake docks, Ice Cream Island occasionally makes deliveries to boats on the lake and hosts events, such as family reunions.
''We sell all different treats from ice cream sandwiches to sundaes,” Mya said. Ice Cream Island also sells freeze-dried ice cream and ice cream tubes; product flavors vary, from cookie dough to strawberry shortcake to Jolly Rancher candies.
Ice Cream Island has had a successful first summer. Next year, Hallie, Brooklyn and Mya plan to expand their ice cream menu and sell merchandise with their logo on it.
''We have met so many great people this summer and have some awesome, loyal customers that stop for ice cream every weekend,” Hallie said. "We work hard to make coming to Ice Cream Island a fun experience for everyone. The support we've gotten has been so great.
''The best part of working on Ice Cream Island is the customers for sure," she said.
Ice Cream Island will be on Maple Lake Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 28 and 29, and over Labor Day weekend, before closing for the season.