Sam Rose went to college thinking he’d be a lawyer. Now he makes CBD ice cream under the label RoseBud Ice Cream. How’d that happen?
A trip to Colorado for a concert shortly after the legalization of marijuana in the state led Rose to switch his major from finance to entrepreneurship and create a business plan for a dispensary. He pitched his idea for RoseBud Dispensary to an investor who essentially said no one would go into such a risky business with an inexperienced 22 year-old fresh out of college. A dejected smoke session with a friend led to Rose’s next venture. He jokingly suggested Rose try his hand at making marijuana-infused ice cream. Rose took the idea seriously, sobered up and got to work.
In his own words, Rose, an amateur boxer, was starting from “negative ten” because he knew everything about eating ice cream but nothing about making it. He moved to Colorado and spent time working in ice cream shops to learn about the process and business on a grander scale. He perfected his THC ice cream in between his day job and boxing practice. In May 2019, Rose won the Colorado Golden Gloves, ended a long-term relationship and had the investors he had been working with for almost two years back out of the THC ice cream venture. That’s when he pivoted.
Rose realized that if he switched to CBD ice cream he could reach more consumers and sell in more places (THC products can only be sold in dispensaries). He spent the summer transitioning and launched his CBD infused ice cream in stores in November of 2019, right at the start of ice cream season in a state known for skiing. After weathering the winter, Rose left his day job just before the start of the Covid pandemic and has been devoting himself full time to hand making what he says is “the best ice cream in the world.”
RoseBud Ice Cream, which he describes as “a remedy and a reward,” comes in both CBD infused and non-infused flavors, a move he never thought he would make until Whole Foods jumped in. The retail powerhouse said they would sell his ice cream only if it didn’t contain CBD. Right now, the non-infused offerings include Moonlight Daydream (think Fruity Pebbles), Coffee, Midnight Mint (mint chocolate cookie using organic Newman O’s), Fancy Ass Vanilla and Strawberry Tasty. RoseBud also offers 5 ounce, single serving containers of their CBD ice cream with 30 milligrams of CBD each in Vanilla Chilla, Berry Chill and Choc-O-Chill. Rose spent so much time during research and development learning how to mask the flavor and pungency of marijuana that when he switched to using CBD, there was no trace of unintended flavor at all.
In-store sampling, which is the driving source of customers for new brands like Rosebud, has been largely non-existent during the pandemic, though Rose was able to do some socially distanced tasting in store parking lots over the summer. “I can interact and educate people on the product while I’m scooping it,” Rose said, “and that was a really good way to boost sales. We had around seven in ten people who tried the ice cream end up buying it.”
For the winter, Rose is planning on distributing pre-packaged samples to shoppers so they can try them at home and purchase pints on their next grocery run. He also keeps in touch with his client base by posting silly videos on social media. Rose decided to start by selling his ice cream in stores instead of at a solo scoop shop because he knew how hard it would be to make rent while selling $3 scoops of ice cream. That said, his goal is to open up a combination ice cream shop, THC dispensary and cafe, in the Amsterdam sense of the word, when the American market is ready for it.
Recently, RoseBud has launched a line of CBD infused sea salt chocolate chip cookies. The giant sized treats have 25 milligrams of CBD each and are sold in packs of four through their website. The cookies will greatly expand RoseBud’s business because they can be sold in stores that don’t have freezer capability and can be shipped without any refrigeration as they are shelf stable. Rose is excited to see how recipients get creative with the cookies and share the treats they come up with. If you want to try out these cookies for yourself (and you definitely should), use the code BEYONDISH for 25% off.
While an ice cream business might not seem like it’s changing the world, everything Rose does is aimed at doing good. He’s giving back by donating 20% of the proceeds from merchandise sales this month to a local Denver organization called Food for Thought that helps keep school lunch program students fed on the weekends. He’s trying to help people with ice cream because it’s something that always makes him smile. “When you eat ice cream, it’s not because you need it before you go into work, you don’t have a bowl to go into the office. I want to provide the best ice cream experience available. That’s where the CBD comes in: it takes the chilling experience to the next level.” Each pint of RoseBud Ice Cream and all of the related apparel is printed with their motto: “Make a Bad Day Good and a Good Day Great.”
RoseBud Ice Cream is currently available only in Colorado, but Rose is aiming to conquer “the whole world” starting in states like Texas and California where seasons don’t affect ice cream consumption as much. Rose makes each and every scoop himself at the moment, but he’s hoping to partner with a co-packer to facilitate the company’s expansion. If you live in Colorado, look for RoseBud pints in stores near you, and if you live in the rest of the country keep your eye out for the impending world domination of what Rose calls “the best ice cream ever.”
Not into CBD? Check out our feature on Charelston’s Hardscoop Alcohol Ice Cream here.
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