In our new Supplier Stories series, we’re featuring our wonderful suppliers! So many of them have special stories, from women entrepreneurs to family farms to mission-driven folks who want to make a difference. Some are local — only available in a couple of stores — while others are growing along with us. Follow along as we share their tales.
If the name Neal Gottlieb sounds familiar, it’s no surprise. After all, he’s worn many hats: from corporate finance to the Peace Corps to the founder of Three Twins Ice Cream (plus a contestant on CBS’s Survivor.)
But his role as an organic ice cream maker might be most impressive — mostly because it’s a story of making dreams happen in the most delicious way ever.
An Apartment, Three Twins and a Sweet Recipe
Though Neal’s career started in finance, he realized before too long that he wanted to do something different. So he joined the Peace Corps and ended up in Morocco. But when the program was unexpectedly evacuated, he moved to California as a 20-something with new perspective and a new idea.
“I needed a place to stay and ended up moving in with my twin brother and his fiancé (now wife), who is also a twin,” he said. “We called the apartment Three Twins and when 2005 rolled around and I decided to start an organic ice cream company, I knew just what to call it.
Three Twins Ice Cream launched that year as a small shop in San Rafael, California.
A Chance Run-In with Whole Foods Market
Neal later started selling at the Saturday Berkeley farmers’ market, where he met a Whole Foods Market local forager who discovered his product and helped get it on shelves.
“That introduction led to my first business with Whole Foods Market, which was selling bulk tubs to be scooped at the new store in Cupertino,” he said.
Eventually, thanks to support from many places — including the Whole Foods Market Local Producer Loan Program — it grew from there. Two factories, 23 flavors, 80+ employees and a few freezer trucks later, Three Twins Ice Cream is now available in all Whole Foods Market stores across the country.
Eat Ice Cream. Protect the Planet.
As a way to give back after their sweet success, Three Twins Ice Cream has for the past five years managed their own land conservation initiative, Ice Cream For Acres, which supports the Austin-based Global Wildlife Conservation.
Through the program, each pint funds the purchase and protection of six square feet of land. Since Ice Cream For Acres’ launch, Three Twins Ice Cream has helped protect about 8,000 acres.
You can find Three Twins Ice Cream pints, sandwiches and more (made from their in-house-made recipes) in all Whole Foods Market stores in the U.S. Find a store near you to get your sweet fix.