With Cecily Mills, Founder and CEO of Cecily’s
"Our aim has always been to bring you great-tasting, natural, plant-based ice cream which is so creamy and scoopy that you would not know it was dairy-free. Peter Jones described it as “exceptional” and the best free from ice cream he’d ever tasted. It’s certified organic, officially vegan, and probably the best non-dairy ice cream you’ll taste. 100% flavour - 0% guilt."
We all love a little sweet treat from time to time and how great is it to have found a delicious product that we can all enjoy... guilt-free! We continue our Celebration of "Women in Business" this International Women's day with a quick-fire Q&A with the founder of Coconuts Organic / Cecily's, Cecily Mills as we get to know the woman behind this amazing brand!
I started Cecily’s in 2015, though back then I was called Coconuts Organic. My background is
retail – I spent 5 years with M&S in store and commercial management roles, initially joining them as a graduate, and then moved to Oliver Bonas as their retail operations manager. It was during my time at Oliver Bona that I came up with the first version of Cecily’s ice cream. I had changed my diet, given up dairy and started using coconut milk to make ice cream to eat myself. I could see that plant-based as a movement was just starting to take off in the UK, and, given that I couldn’t find anything similar in the shops I decided to leave my career and pursue ice cream full time.
The What? What is the brand / product / service all about?
We make the creamiest plant-based ice cream around. Its very hard to make natural ice cream on a commercial scale – you need to ensure it doesn’t go icy, and it stays scoopable and smooth. So most ice creams use a variety so synthetic emulsifiers and stabilisers to achieve this. Our ice cream is entirely natural, in fact, its certified organic. It’s as close to a creamy dairy ice cream you’ll get, just no dairy.
The Why? Why did you decide to create and launch your own brand & company?
A variety of reason played a part. I think from when I was little I wanted to have my own business. I could just always see myself working for myself somehow. Whe I eventually started my career the hardest thing for me at the time was the adjustment I had to make that my time was no longer my own. I found that very difficult, as I wanted to be able to go for a surf if the waves were good, to work hard one day for 15 hours and go easy another day and do just the urgent stuff. Workplaces don’t work like that though! Then when I was making the ice cream myself, I suddenly had something that I loved and saw a very real opportunity in. The catalyst I think was the desire to start a family too. My then-job was taking about 12 to 13 hours out of my day – 4 of them just driving. I knew I couldn’t start a family and continue to do that but thought that with my own business I could have that flexibility.
We sell through UK retail – Ocado and M&S – and then also online via our webshop. The webshop is particularly exciting. We only launched it during the first UK lockdown, but it just took off straight away. Now we’re building a whole new website that will; start to offer things like subscriptions and exclusive flavour releases, its super exciting.
The Where? Where do you see the business, and the brand, in terms of growth/expansion or product development over the next year or two
We want to be famous for making the best plant-based ice cream. We want to keep growing at a good pace; this looks like expanding into new countries as well as more shelf space across the UK. This is what we’re all working towards.
Distribution Channels - On-line ? In store / retail?
Both. Cecily’s is available online, Ocado, M&S, and other independent retailers. RRP from £4.50
Who is your inspiration? What advise would you give your younger self?
There are lots of very inspiring female entrepreneurs, and I like to follow as many as I can. My latest obsession is Whitney Wolfe Heard. What she has done, to build Bumble to the stage it is now, well, its just incredible. We need more Whiteys.
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