The month of May is when Amanda Sahali and her family start gearing up for the summer rush – hot and thirsty customers eager to savor hand-crafted locally sourced frozen popsicles inspired by the Sahali family’s roots.
“Our family was inspired to start a business of our own after our industry was hit pretty hard by the pandemic,” says Sahali, co-founder of Seattle-based Ma & Pops. “My father-in-law had an old ice cream truck on his farm and instead of reselling ice cream, we began to experiment with making our own. We were inspired to support local farmers and settled on vegan popsicles that reminded us of some of our favorite Caribbean and Southern drinks.”
A family in it together
Ma & Pops is not only a family-owned business, it’s family-run. Everyone in the Sahali family is involved.
“The whole family helped to conceptualize the business,” says Amanda Sahali. Daughter Ani, 18, can be seen behind the Ma & Pops banner at local farmers’ markets and special events. Son Law, 7, helps create flavors with Sahali at home before they are recreated in the company’s production kitchen. Amanda and her husband, Tariq Sahali, Ma and Pops in Ma & Pops, are the production team.
“Production in our licensed kitchen is a task shared by just us parents, which makes for early mornings and late nights,” Sahali says. “Ma & Pops is, in a sense, seasonal. Summer is really busy for us which allows us to enjoy the downtime in the fall and winter even more. We love to travel and take frequent road trips down the west coast.”
Flavors from home
Family and heritage play a big role in Ma & Pops pops.
“My family is from Trinidad and Tobago and we visit often,” Sahali says. “We just returned from a trip in February when Carnival was taking place. The vibrant culture, colors, and food have given us lots of new ideas for this season.”
This summer, the brightly colored desserts can be found at farmers’ markets in Queen Anne, South Park, Renton, Burien, and South Delridge. They are also available at Cone & Steiner, Leschi Market, and Rain City Market stores.
A business active in the community
The Sahalis are very involved with the Africatown Community Land Trust, an organization working toward community ownership of land in the Central District as a key to the cultural and economic security of African descendants in the region. Ma & Pops will be bringing their pops to the trust’s Summer of Soul events, a lineup celebrating Seattle’s Black culture, history, and community in Seattle’s Central District between May 29 and August 6. They’ll also be present at other events on the Seattle Waterfront.
Sahali says the company, which launched in 2021 is working to grow the wholesale end of the business and has enjoyed stretching the boundaries of uniqueness beyond flavor profiles, which currently include spicy watermelon, peach tea lemonade, guava, and other combinations.
Ma & Pops enjoys its family collaboration as well as its work with other local entrepreneurs and artists. Last year, Ma & Pops worked with AR+Pop, artist Nina Vichayapai, and Lamp Lab to offer a popsicle on a custom-designed popsicle stick. The stick was laser-etched with a special QR code that in turn led to an Instagram showing an augmented reality version of the popsicle.
“We’re really proud of our collaboration,” Sahlai says.
“We’re a family of event organizers, so we enjoy attending community activities and festivals together,” she adds. “And now we get to engage in community activities and share our joy with others.”
Still, flavor is the name of the game at Ma & Pops. As summer rolls in, Sahali says Ma & Pops will be leaning into their unique style of tea and herb-based Pops – “Combinations like apricot-chamomile and lavender-blueberry come to mind.”
For more information, go to maandpops.com.
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