After studying chemical engineering and working in the industry for nearly 15 years, Ajoa Mintah felt it was time for a career change.
“I had a realization one day that I had gone as far as I was going to go at the company as a Black female,” she says. “So, for me, it was, ‘Do I live with it — do I move onto another company and face the same issue — or do I figure something else out?’”
Mintah chose the last option, pivoting away from the corporate world to realize her lifelong dream of being a business owner. Combining her passion for engineering, sweets and the produce that grows in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, she launched Four All Ice Cream with the aim of offering ice cream made with natural ingredients and an intentional process behind it.
Four All Ice Cream Provides ‘an Option for Everybody’
Part of her vision was to provide an alternative option for people looking to avoid store-bought brands that are typically pumped full of chemicals.
“Everybody loves ice cream, but I think people stop eating it because it’s often made with weird ingredients and not everyone can eat it, like my one daughter who can’t eat dairy,” she says. “I wanted to start an ice cream business that focused on making sure there was an option for everybody — that was the key.”
Keen on celebrating the food that grows in the region, Mintah set to work creating ice cream flavours infused with healthy, locally sourced ingredients that would give people of all dietary needs a chance to enjoy ice cream — sans side effects. Four All Ice Cream flavors fall into four categories: nostalgic tastes from childhood, global-inspired foodie combinations, vegan and classic.
Taking a Scientific Approach to Ice Cream
Applying her chemical engineering background to her newfound career path, Mintah is meticulous about ensuring each ingredient serves a specific function, and that she’s always taking a scientific approach to the process from start to finish.
“Chemical engineers are concerned with how things go from unfinished to finished, so how do I take something from its raw state into a finished state?” Mintah says. “We build our ice creams from the ground up, we’re not flavouring a mix, there are no shortcuts. We’re understanding every single ingredient, what it is and what it does. Everything is functional.”
For example, not only does sugar add taste to the ice creams, but Mintah says it’s also useful from a textural perspective, which is why Four All hasn’t yet expanded into keto flavors. She says they also use honey and maple syrup as sweeteners if cane sugar is an issue.
Sustainability is Key to Four All Ice Cream’s Mission
“Personally, I’ve always been environmentally conscious, that’s how I live,” she says. “I didn’t have a background in the food industry, which was a benefit because I didn’t have any preconceptions, so I just thought, ‘Why can’t it be compostable or recyclable?’ It wasn’t a switch I had to make later, I did it from very beginning.”
Four All Ice Cream has a factory location in Kitchener and a scoop shop in Waterloo, but you can also purchase their products at a variety of locations across Ontario. Visit fourall.ca to learn more.
More Inspirational Female-founded Businesses
Here are more inspirational success stories from Ontario-based female founders:
- Sheba Zaidi and Genevive Savundranayagam are the co-founders of contemporary lifestyle brand Mahara Mindfulness. They create products and experiences that offer people a stepping-stone into a world of mindful practices and personal transformation.
- Stacey Martin Lifestyle is the brainchild of designer Stacey Martin. The Canadian luxe loungewear company aims to push the boundaries of the current fashion industry.
- Renia Pruchnicki founded Canadian accessory brand Truth Belts, which makes eco-friendly vegan belts. She started her company by sewing belts in her living room and in 2021 Truth Belts celebrates 20 years of business.
- Emily O’Brien runs gourmet popcorn company Comeback Snacks, which employs previously incarcerated women. Their mission is to raise awareness of the importance of re-integration after prison. They recently opened a storefront in Hamilton (and shared a Comeback Snacks popcorn recipe with us to celebrate).
Lead photo credit Four All Ice Cream