When Kiahna Malloy, our NJMOMpreneur of the Week, was a little girl, there was nothing she loved more than ice cream. Yet as an adult, most of the ice cream she had didn’t have the creaminess or full flavor she remembered. So, in 2012 while working her full-time job, she studied the science of ice cream, experimented, and created the depth of flavors in ice cream reminiscent of those she had long ago. Add in an idea to make an unusual ice cream sandwich with slices of cake instead of cookies, and Kreme & Krumbs was born. At first, Kiahna debuted her artisanal ice cream and sandwiches at farmer’s markets and food expos, but when she got laid off, she knew this was her moment to go all in. Today, with a storefront in Bloomfield (and a move to Montclair this spring), she churns a revolving mix of small-batch ice cream flavors based on seasonal ingredients and layers them between freshly baked “krumbs” in the ice cream sandwiches. We chatted with this East Orange mom of two to find out how her business changed during the pandemic, how she’s adapting to growth, and where she goes for some of the best Caribbean food around.
Tell us a little about your family and where you live. My husband, Leon Malloy, and I have been married for 18 years, and we have two daughters, a 14-year-old and a 4-year-old. We live in East Orange, where I went to high school. There’s so much to love, like the small-town vibe and great restaurants, especially the Caribbean ones. There are a lot of new businesses coming in right now, and with so much rebuilding, it’s an exciting time to be here.
What were you doing before you started Kreme & Krumbs? I was a legal assistant for the Federal Government, working for a few different agencies over the years, including Immigration Court, IRS Chief Counsel, and Federal Resources. A few years ago, when the administration changed from one party to another, they dismantled certain agencies, and I got laid off. Because I’d been working on my craft for years, it seemed like the right time to focus all my energy on my business and brand. I got my name out there by doing farmer’s markets, pop-ups, and big events like the Essence Street Style Block Party, which was great exposure for brand recognition and got some major buzz going before opening my storefront.
What was your “aha” moment that led you to launch this business? I don’t know that I had an exact “aha” moment. I had a cupcake business many years ago, and my aunt told me that she was surprised I decided to bake since I’ve always loved ice cream so much. I think her saying that planted a seed in my head and made me realize that ice cream was the way to go if the timing were ever right for me to have my own business again.
Has the pandemic impacted your business? How have you had to pivot? Because our brick and mortar is only 400 square feet, it was impossible to keep our customers 6 feet apart, so we pivoted and started doing pre-orders, which is a model we’re still maintaining. We announce what our week flavors will be on a Friday before and spend a few days making it. To keep things interesting, I switch up our flavors every week. I start making the ice cream and mix-ins on Mondays and Tuesdays, such as brownies, cake, crumbles, and jams. On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, we’re churning and packing our ice cream flavors into pints and packing up our unique ice cream sandwiches, which we make with cake instead of cookies, so Saturdays are for pickups.
What is your bestseller? Is it your favorite, too? Our most popular flavor is Bourbon Pecan, heavily laced with bourbon ice cream base with candied pecans throughout. Everyone absolutely loves it. And though I tell people that I don’t have a favorite, I have to admit that I love Chocolate Deluxe. It’s made from Valrhona chocolate which is the absolute best, and it’s a chocolate ice cream base with chocolate fudge and chocolate cake throughout and finished with Chocolate Pearls. It’s out of this world fantastic.
Does your family ever get involved in your business? My husband, Leon, has always been very supportive, offering emotional support and doing the heavy lifting (literally) whenever needed. But this past summer, I realized that if we take this to the next level, it would be best if we’re both all in. He recently left his job and started working with me and will be instrumental in helping Kreme and Krumbs grow. Together, we divide and conquer and get everything done. Also, my mom is a wonderful support for our daughters. I don’t know how I’d be able to handle everything without her. And, my aunt and uncle might be my biggest fans–they never fail to get their weekly orders in.
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur? What about the most challenging thing? The best thing about owning a business is doing what I love to do, and I get to be creative. The hardest thing is that people always think you have free time, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When you’re an entrepreneur, you have very little down-time. It isn’t easy to balance running a business and being the best wife, mom, and daughter, but I do the best I can.
What’s next? Last year, a good friend of mine invited me to do a pop-up in Montclair’s Vault 491, and the exposure and response were insane. Bloomfield has been very good for us, but we’ve outgrown this space at only 400 sq. ft. This spring, Kreme and Krumbs will be moving to a 1,600 sq. ft. space in Montclair. Montclair is still very close for our local customers, and with the town’s fine dining, art district, lovely boutiques, and The Wellmont Theater, I know it’s where we need to be to continue to grow.
What are some of your favorite NJ businesses? Save & Rave, a consignment store in Bloomfield, always has great pieces. My 14 year old loves hoodies, and we always find quality-type stuff with different slogans. And Palmer’s Bakehouse in Maplewood is my favorite bake shop. Everything is delicious, and I love the macarons, but the Oatmeal Cream Pies keep me hooked. I load up on them and stick them in the fridge to enjoy with coffee or tea whenever the mood strikes. I’m also a big fan of Tasha’s Caribbean & Soul Restaurant in East Orange, which has a menu board of Caribbean and Soul dishes that changes weekly, the way my ice cream flavors do. She makes the food right in front of you, and everything is so flavorful. And Liv Breads, in Millburn, makes gingersnap cookies that are so good and as big as your face, plus they have Counter Culture Coffee, which is my absolute favorite. Also, their challah is the best. I buy three at a time and freeze two of them, so I always have it on hand to make my “famous in our home” blueberry French toast.
Please share some places in NJ where you and your family spend time. I’m a homebody at heart, so we always spent a lot of time at home enjoying each other’s company even before the pandemic hit. That being said, the American Dream is special. It’s my older daughter’s favorite for walking around and good shopping. And my husband and I make sure we sneak out from time to time to get some time away from work and our girls and focus on each other. Ani Ramen is one of our go-tos.
What’s your best piece of advice for an NJMOMpreneur just starting? Don’t get so caught up in listening to what others think you should do. Instead, do what you want to do. Listen to yourself. Believe in yourself. And most importantly, be kind to yourself because it will be a rough road at times.