The dreamer behind Ginger’s Divine Ice Creams is making an entrepreneur’s bet on happiness
By Jessica Koslow
One look at Margaret Schniderman’s face — her bright green eyes, beaming smile and ginger-colored hair — and it’s easy to see why she picked radiant yellow to dominate Ginger’s Divine Ice Creams, her new ice cream shop on West Washington Boulevard. Three yellow umbrellas, yellow door frames, yellow chairs … the list goes on.
“Yellow is a happy color,” Schniderman, whose nickname is Ginger, explains. “I want it to feel like a little break in here. A treat. A vacation spot.”
While Schniderman is no stranger to retail, this is her first foray into the food business. Born and raised in Santa Monica, she and her husband bought DNA Clothing on Rose Avenue in 1996. Although incredibly popular with locals, the one-of-its-kind-for-some-time boutique on Rose shut its doors in January 2016.
About two years before DNA closed, Schniderman began thinking about ice cream. In 2014, she attended an ice cream making program at University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the top two ice cream programs in the country along with Penn State. She worked in a dairy plant in the dead of winter with temperatures of 20 below, and followed that experience with a one-year gelato program in L.A.
Finally, Ginger’s Divine Ice Creams opened its doors in late January.
“I feel guilty doing this,” Schniderman says with a huge smile. “It’s so much fun.”
And it’s not only Schniderman who’s having a ball. Stop in most days after school or in the evening, and the welcoming shop is overflowing with joyful people of all ages.
“Being at DNA, I had great customers,” Schniderman says. “But I offered sizes 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10. I didn’t cater to seniors or kids. Here, I serve all sizes and all ages. They come in happy and leave happier.”
Now a Mar Vista resident, Schniderman picked her current business location because she can walk there. Being part of the community is important. Ginger’s partners with neighborhood schools to give out gift cards for their fundraisers. And schools can pick a Monday night to hold a fundraiser at the shop and receive a portion of the sales. The shop has already done a few, including one for her 7-year-old son’s school, Citizens of the World Mar Vista.
Her flavors are a mix of creative and basic, from Fresh Mint Chip to Mascarpone with Bacon Jam Brittle.
“I’ve always been a foodie,” she admits. “When I started making ice cream, it was like therapy, very relaxing. Now I can practice my craft. The milk is a blank canvas.”
One of her favorite flavors is Yuzu Boysenberry, and the shop’s most popular is Billionaire Brownie (brownies, caramel, fudge, pecans and Madagascar bourbon vanilla).
“I can’t make it fast enough,” she says. “I’m making it every other day. We hand-make the brownies that go into it.”
Schniderman also loves coffee. It’s why Ginger’s serves three types of coffee ice cream: Cold Brew, Vietnamese and Turkish (vegan), and a mocha pop, which is espresso ice cream dipped in a coffee-infused chocolate coating and rolled in coco nibs.
“I picked ice cream because everyone has a great ice cream childhood memory, and I wanted to tap into that for people,” she explains.
The importance of community spills over into Ginger’s ingredients, which are locally grown and produced. The dairy is 45 minutes away in Chino. The raspberries and blueberries are from Pudwill Farms, and the strawberries are from Harry’s Berries. Even the coffee (LAMILL) and chocolate (Guittard) are local.
Everything is from scratch: the caramel, the fudge, the waffle cones. It took her six weeks to perfect the chocolate chip cookie recipe — a perfect blend of chewy middle and crunchy edges. She gives one out free upon the return of each take-home glass pint jar.
Schniderman’s husband still works closely with her. He’s the head of operations and added the “Divine” part to Ginger’s Divine Ice Creams — mainly because her ice cream tastes divine, but also because a Ginger’s ice cream shop already exists in London.
In the future, Ginger’s plans to make ice cream cakes and start a catering service. But all in due time.
“It’s only been four months,” Schniderman says ecstatically, “and I’m living my dream.”