Once you try Vedder’s Nice Cream you will be blown away that it is non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, organic and dairy-free. But what’s even more impressive is why this local Mama started mixing up ice cream alternatives in her kitchen. Ashley’s family has been personally affected by multiple Parkinson’s diagnoses, so eating clean is very important to her and her family. Find out how Vedder’s sweets has teamed up with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, where their adorable Nice Cream shop can be found in San Clemente and how this Mom of 3 manages it all.
Please tell us why you first started making vegan, non-dairy ice cream?
I first started making vegan ice cream because my husband was diagnosed in 2014 of Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease. I was 8 months pregnant, very large and very emotional. 🥴. What a shock!!!! I was hoping the doctors were wrong but they were certain. About 2 years later, with my husband Justin struggling each day with medications, movement, sleep, working his job, dealing with stress of supporting a family, we decided what went into our bodies was very important. We hired a nutritionist who was highly recommended. I joined a group of friends doing a Whole 30 Challenge, so I could cook and be on a similar program to Justin. These special programs were to help our bodies get rid of toxins and eat only clean foods. Two months into getting clean, we cheated and took our kids to frozen yogurt. Afterwards, our stomachs felt so sick. I had just shocked my clean system. This was later at night, so we came home and all went to bed. I woke up at 3 am and sat straight up! I was still sick to my stomach and then I had an epiphany….
What was your aha moment when you realized this delicious, nice cream should be shared with the masses?
My aha moment……”There needs to be healthy ice cream shops where everyone can go and enjoy ice cream!” I decided to write this down on a note next to my bed so I wouldn’t forget this idea in the morning. On this new lifestyle journey with food, I realized we could not enjoy ice cream or yogurt shops. My nice creams are all licensed organic, made with a coconut cream, (occasionally I have a cashew base or hemp milk base) sweetened with dates, maple sugars, and or coconut sugar chocolate chips.
Tell us about your partnership with the Michael J Fox foundation and why it is near and dear to your family?
The Michael J Fox Foundation is close to my heart because when we received this diagnosis, we turned to his website and googled everything he’s done to fight this disease. Michael J Fox has been an inspiration to us. It gave us ideas on what to do for the next steps with treating Justin. We also, started fundraising for the foundation. In 2015….. my husband was still hiding his diagnosis. It was so hard for him to come to terms with his new reality. I ran into a golf pro who worked with Justin on his golf game and knew Justin’s diagnoses (one of the few people he told) and another aha moment appeared for me. I said to him, “Do you think we can host a golf fundraiser at a golf club for the MJFF and this will help Justin come out with his diagnosis and benefit the foundation?” Well, we ended up hosting 3 MJFF fundraisers and we raised $500K in 3 years for the foundation. We were lucky enough to meet Michael J Fox and be invited to special dinners in NYC on behalf of the foundation.
Another reason the MJFF is close to us is my mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a couple years ago and Justin’s dad had Parkinson’s. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us. Once Vedder’s Organic Nice Creams starts shipping, our partnership with MJFF will begin. It will also begin when they have another event in California. We can be there at the event, selling nice cream and giving a percentage of the proceeds to them.
Why did you all select San Clemente to be the home of Vedder’s nice cream?
San Clemente called out to us when Covid first hit last March. Honestly, when Covid hit, I actually said to myself…. “Well, I definitely do not see me starting an ice cream business now!” Then the phone rang and it was The Lobster Shack, a restaurant in the Old Town Plaza. They said, “There is an empty spot for you in our plaza, you should check it out!” It took me until August to officially decide to jump on it, but it was meant to be.
What’s the best feedback you have gotten from customers?
I hear and get feedback all of the time, but the most common response is… “you can’t even tell it’s not dairy, it’s sooo good!”
What is your favorite Vedder nice cream Flavor? What flavor do your kids like most?
My favorite flavor is Strawberry and my kids each have a different flavor they enjoy. They are vanilla, coffee and dragon fruit at the moment.
What advice would you give to another mother that has a great product idea, but isn’t sure if she should dive in?
You have one shot in this lifetime, live it to the fullest. You never want to look back and wish you would have done something or at least tried it out.
How do you practice self-care?
I enjoy working out 3 to 4 times a week on my bike, yoga sculpt or a run. I also enjoy taking a bath and meditating whenever I can squeeze it in. I actually get more energy after doing these activities.
What is your favorite staycation in SoCal?
My favorite staycation would have to be to stay at a nice hotel with a big white bed! Where I’m not cooking or making my bed. Having someone else pick up after me and family, eating amazing food and getting a massage. Heaven!
Favorite Date Night restaurant/activity in SouthOC? (pre or post COVID)
Going out to dinner near the beach and to a place which isn’t too loud, so I can hear Justin. His voice goes in and out because of the disease. Not being interrupted and being together is perfect, no matter where we go. I’d have to say our favorite restaurants are Banderas, Nicks, R & D or the Vine.
How can other SouthOCMoms find your amazing products?
You can find VEDDER’S Organic Vegan Nice Creams and Sweets at our shop in San Clemente, on our website www.Vedderssweets.com, the Laguna Niguel Farmers Market on Sunday mornings from 8-12pm and we are also available on DoorDash.
Founder, WAKE Social + Content