Local Fruits And Italian Ice

Marck and Lauren Shipley

Marck and Lauren Shipley
Owners, Papalani Gelato

Tell us about your business. We’re the only frozen dessert company on the island that uses Kaua’i-grown fruits and other ingredients in most of what we make. We’ve made sorbet and gelato flavors out of maybe as many as 15 to 20 different fruits on the island, anything from jack-fruit and star fruit, to mango and lilikoi. And even when we’re not using local fruits, it’s either 100 percent fruit puree or pure fruit from somewhere else. We have about 200 flavors we make.

What sets your business apart? Marck: We’re locally owned. We believe we have a couple of core philosophies, and one of them is that we try to spend our money as close to the store as possible. We also believe in sourcing local ingredients for the manufacturing of our products and selling local merchandise in the retail section of the store.

Why did you get into the food industry? Marck: I was a high-tech executive for the first part of my professional life, and I had gotten to the point where it wasn’t rewarding for me any longer. We ended up moving from California to Salt Spring Island in British Columbia – a different type of environment to finish raising our children and provide a more mellow, laid-back lifestyle.

Lauren: We bought a small chocolate shop there that had ice cream for the summer. That was when we decided to grow the business, add gelato and make it a store.

Marck: Salt Spring Island is known as an artisan island. It’s a lot like Kaua’i. We looked around and realized no one was making any kind of frozen dessert product on the island. Even though we sold ice cream, we thought that by making something locally, with a higher quality level, that it would increase sales.

Why gelato? Marck: At first we were going to do only ice cream, but we ran into some guys who had basically come over from Italy to try to promote gelato-making in North America and we hooked up with them. They were saying we had a really high-quality chocolate product. And ice cream and chocolate, while they go together, gelato and the style of chocolates we had were a better fit as far as the quality goes. And so they talked us into making gelato and taught us how to do it. And then, from there, we went out and found someone to teach us how to make it from scratch. From that, we developed our own recipes.

What is most challenging about your business? Marck: The biggest challenge for us in the two years we’ve been open is the economy. We opened right at the beginning of the melt-down in July 2008. And so, like many other businesses on the island, we’ve been adversely affected. Now, we’re doing better than a fair share of businesses on the island, so we’re doing well and not in any danger or anything like that. That definitely was a challenge, but I think we’ve made it through that.

A sampling of colorful fruit gelatos at Papalani

What are your goals for the future? Marck: Getting the percentage of sales sold to people receiving the kama`aina discount of 15 percent to increase. If we could get half our sales to locals, that would be great. One of the things we found out is that a lot of people don’t know about us. And they don’t know we also have products like yogurt.

What is your business motto? Lauren: Heaven on a cone.

What are your business hours? 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Sunday.

Poipu Shopping Village.
2360 Kiahuna Plantation Road, Koloa

742-CONE www.papalanigelato.com

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