What inspired you to create lactose free ice cream?
I was inspired to create Beckon Ice Cream with my co-founder, Gwen, because of my lactose intolerance. I grew up loving ice cream but became lactose intolerant in my teens.
What is your current job at Beckon?
I wear many hats but one of my roles is leading our Operations and Supply Chain. This includes research and development of new flavors and formulas, sourcing new ingredients and managing the production of all our products. We used to make the ice cream ourselves in an incubator kitchen but have since grown into a more formal production.
How did you learn the skills to make a new kind of ice cream?
Making ice cream is all chemistry! Using my understanding of health sciences, I was able to figure out the need for the lactose enzyme to make dairy ice cream lactose free.
Do you have any stories about your innovation process?
Definitely. While working as a nurse at Children’s Hospital [in Boston], I would use my days off to experiment with making ice cream in my little Cuisinart ice cream maker. I was the guinea pig, needing to figure out if the ice cream was safe for someone who needed a completely lactose free option. Once I got that piece right, I needed to take on texture.
But lactose free ice cream existed before Beckon. Was there something missing from other lactose free ice cream?
The dairy-free alternatives that I had tried didn’t have the rich, creamy texture that I loved about ice cream, plus they were chock-full of stabilizers and gums to try to match it. Those additives caused me other digestive issues so I knew I wanted to use real ice cream ingredients with no extra additives. The challenge came in adding the lactase, which changes the make-up of the ingredients. With persistence and creativity though I finally found the formula that tasted just like the ice cream I grew up loving.
Any advice for women entering STEM fields?
It’s so exciting that more women are entering STEM fields! I would tell any woman or girl who is interested in pursuing STEM to go for it and don’t be afraid to combine it with other interests. STEM is at the heart of so many fields, even ice cream making! It is an incredible platform for pursuing all your dreams. I would also encourage anyone to find a great mentor! It helps to have someone you look up to navigate decisions and ideas.