AN icy pole maker for Christmas spawned a boutique business that now sells ice creams and icy poles across WA.
When La Paleta owner Ami McDonald opened her Christmas present seven years ago she quickly became hooked on creating delicious icy treats.
“I started using it for fun and suddenly I had a lot of different mixes in the fridge,” the Hamilton Hill local says.
La Paleta’s Mexican-inspired icy poles and ice creams are made from fresh ingredients using real fruit.
The practice is commonplace now, but at the time Ms McDonald was ahead of the curve.
“Using real strawberries was a revolutionary thought; this was before the movement for using natural ingredients. It was a lightbulb moment for me.”
Most of the fruit is sourced in WA, including mangos from a small Carnarvon orchard, limes from Pemberton and lemons from Harvey.
Her iced confections don’t contain stabilisers, additives or preservatives: “There’s no agar or xanthan gum and there’s no juice concentrate.”
When Ms McDonald launched her business, $75 was enough to buy a second-hand freezer and some moulds, and she converted her shed into a commercial kitchen.
She soon got a pitch at the South Fremantle farmers market and sold 35 icy poles on her first day.
“It was mainly to friends and family; at the beginning there was a lot of educating our customers,” she says with a smile.
As the food truck movement kicked off, so did her business, and operations were moved to a Bibra Lake factory.
“People were ready for a change and interested in whole food and natural food. It was a lovely time for us to start.”
La Paleta now has 10 employees and Ms McDonald has fostered a friendly work environment with flexible hours and a co-op, where staff can buy business supplies in bulk.
“When you’re the owner you get to create how you want it to be, to make it an enjoyable place to be, even for me.”
By JENNY D’ANGER
Geelong Court, Bibra Lake
0402 801 515