DETROIT – A Detroit ice cream company is jumping into the national spotlight by teaming up with Walmart.
HattieGirl Ice Cream and Food can be found in several Detroit supermarkets, and this week you’ll start to see them in Walmart stores across Southeast Michigan.
Owner and General Manager James Render credits the community with supporting and boosting their brand to get to this point.
Pints of HattieGirl were first put in freezers at the Walmart in Livonia on Plymouth Road. They sold out by Wednesday (March 23).
Render said they’ll be at the Sterling Heights Walmart location by Thursday.
“We’re working in Warren, and we have different areas,” said Render. “We’re rolling it out day by day.”
He has been praying for this moment for years.
“All credit to the Lord, Lord Savior Jesus,” Render said. “He blessed me. I’m just amazed at what we do and what he has done in my life.”
Render, a former award-winning teacher, started making ice cream in the third grade with his mother, Hattie Foster-Thomas.
“My mother and father bought me an ice cream maker,” said Render. “When I began, I began making ice cream. My mom was just telling me to ‘Try this, try that here; my grandmother taught me this.’”
He got the name for the brand from his mother’s nickname.
“She learned how to make the homemade ice creams and other desserts from her grandmother in rural Alabama, Midway, Alabama,” said Render. “My mother told me when she was talking to her, and she would say to her, ‘Hattie, girl, go pick that up, girl.’ When she told me that, I was told that I said, ‘hmm.’ So when I put the ice cream company together. I said, ‘HattieGirl.’”
The company has been around since 2006, and in 2012 Render bought an old church in Detroit.
“I’m a schoolteacher, so on that salary, I took that and built little by little, and finally we started manufacturing ice cream in here in 2018,” said Render.
The ingredients are all-natural.
Each pint is made from scratch by Render, his mother, and their small group of staff.
They make the regular flavors along with some signature flavors.
“Sweet potato pie with pecans, I’ve done a pound cake, a chocolate pound cake, pistachio, butter pecan, vanilla, and strawberry,” Render said. “It takes people back because when you were a kid, you would get a cake and ice cream, and you would mix it.”
He said more people getting a taste of what they have to offer is a proud moment for their family.
“My mom is 86-years-old,” Render said. “She’s in good health, driving, she does everything, but she told me she’s prayed and asked the Lord to be sure that she could be around to see the success of the company. She’s happy to see it grow.”
Render said there are only five certified Black ice cream manufacturers in the country; HattieGirl is the only one in Michigan.