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Inspiring Conversations with Tamara Keefe of Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tamara Keefe.

Hi Tamara, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I have been making ice cream my whole life with my family. When I was a child, ice cream entirely changed my sense of community and therefore, my sense of self. We grew up below the poverty line. Every Sunday after church, the other families would meet at the local ice cream parlor. I remember tugging on my mom’s dress, begging her for us to join them for ice cream, not knowing the financial burden a trip to the ice cream parlor would cause our family of seven.

Then, one day my mom ran across an old crank & boom ice cream maker for $2 at a garage sale, and that day my life was changed forever. We made ice cream together as a family after church every Sunday. Word of our delicious ice cream spread, and soon enough, rather than going out for ice cream, the church families began to gather at our house, with each family bringing a different ingredient. I suddenly had friends and felt like I belonged. My whole sense of community changed because of ice cream, and I never forgot that feeling. Later in life, I became a very successful businesswoman working 60-70-hour weeks and successfully climbing the corporate ladder. By 2014, I was running a $70 million dollar business and on the road constantly. I thought I had it all – a dream job, success, a nice salary, but I was exhausted and miserable. A group of friends talked me into following my bliss and quitting corporate America to pursue my dream of making the best ice cream in the country.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you plan it to. Around every corner, there was a new license, a new cost, a new timeline, so those were obstacles and challenges I had to overcome.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery?
Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery is named around the two types of ice creams we make. Naughty (boozy) and Nice (non-boozy). We have a trade-secret process for infusing alcohol into ice cream up to 18%. We are also one of only a handful of micro-creameries in the country. There are qualifications you have to meet in order to be one. First, it has to be a Small Batch made in a real ice cream machine (batch freezer) and handcrafted, which means that everything in the ice cream has to be made by hand. If there’s a pie, cake or cookie in our ice cream, our kitchen staff will make it and bake it. We salt our own caramel and candy our pecans.

For some flavors, we collaborate to support another local artisan maker and use their product. We are proud to only use “all-natural” ingredients and all of our ice creams have between 16-18% butterfat, which is why they are so decadent. And, by using dairy from local, grass-fed, pasture-raised, hormone and RBST-free cows, you’re starting with the purest, most unadulterated, best tasting, non-altered, fresh dairy you can imagine. As a result, our base dairy is so much cleaner, richer, and creamier. It is healthier, tastes better, it benefits the cows, and our environment, which makes me very proud!

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
People first. I had to prioritize my staff above all else. Without them, we couldn’t have pivoted like we did. I am so proud of our team and what we overcame during the pandemic.

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Image Credits

The photo of Tamara holding the ice cream scoop with her arms crossed is credited to Chris Bauer. Everything else is credited to “Courtesy of Clementine’s Creamery”.

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