Phillip Ly graduated from SGHS in 2013 and from the University of Redlands in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Global Business. He is currently starting his own rolled ice cream business in San Gabriel called Swirlz Creamery.
Q: What inspired you to start your own business?
A: I grew up in an entrepreneurial household. My mother owned businesses and real estate and my older sister owns her own photography business, so that was a major influence for me growing up. But nothing really pushed me to actually start my own business until my senior year of college. I graduated with a [Bachelor of Science] in Global Business, and the majority of the people within the business department were interviewing and getting jobs in corporations. That’s great and all; however, I just wanted to try something else. I was very lucky to receive scholarships so that Redlands’ price tag wasn’t too much of financial burden for my mom.
Q: Why did you specifically choose to open an ice cream shop?
A: It was an idea that my sister brought up to me during the beginning of my last semester at Redlands. She saw the opportunity in it and asked if I wanted in. I said yes, and later on, my cousin got on board. However, our partnership didn’t last very long due to various reasons and I chose to leave and do my own thing.
Q: Have you faced any challenges throughout the process of creating Swirlz Creamery?
A: Besides learning how everything actually works in real life [versus] what they teach you in school, learning how to make the actual rolling ice cream was tough. While I was still in the partnership with my cousin and sister, we didn’t have the proper equipment yet, so we set off and experimented using household items and things you can buy at the 99 cent store [or] Smart & Final. Afterwards, we started making a bunch of different dairy combinations with wild flavors and poured it onto the plate and tried to roll it. We failed and failed and failed each time. We created ice cream chips instead of rolls. Out of all the dairy combinations and flavors we tested that day, we only came away with two perfect rolls like the ones you see on social media. I remember I was consoling my sister because she was bummed out that our efforts didn’t bear fruit; however, I remember that was when I was even more determined to make our ice cream rolls work.