Sweet Alchemy - Ballard
After graduating from UW with an Art degree, Lois Ko began pursuing her dream of creating the best ice cream in the Pacific Northwest. In 2016, she opened Sweet Alchemy where she prioritizes sustainability and strives to only use local, organic ingredients. Her Ballard shop opened in 2019, co-located with Mighty-O doughnuts.
|Not all college student ice cream scoopers love their job, but Lois Ko sure did. As an Art student at the University of Washington, she happily scooped away at the Häagen-Dazs shop in the University District. After graduating and a few jobs in the real world, she decided to return to ice cream. “I realized that I love selling ice cream,” laughs Lois. So, took over the Häagen-Dazs shop where everything had started. During the decade that Lois owned the shop, she also became a mother. Having kids ignited her passion for environmental sustainability, making her a pioneer of the brand’s green initiatives.|
Those were formative years for Lois, who decided to close the franchise in November 2015. She wanted to make her own ice cream – ice cream that aligned with her strong environmentalist values. “[I] started making every recipe in every book I could find,” Lois remembers. But in time, she pursued formal training and took Penn State’s Food Science Course, where she learned the molecular science behind ice cream from the oldest creamery in the world. Then, it was time. Sweet Alchemy opened its doors in February 2016.
Lois loves the opportunities for creativity that come with owning an ice cream shop. Flavor ideas are sourced from her team, customer suggestions, and even farmers themselves. “A lot of the flavors organically grow from people who come to us with raw ingredients,” notes Lois. She takes pride in working directly with local farmers, sourcing all of her ingredients within an 100 mile radius of the shop. Often she’ll take her employees, many of whom are University of Washington students, to visit partners’ farms. “It’s important to know where your food comes from,” says Lois, “and to have a thankful and big heart for the people who make it.”
|When Lois uses honey in her ice cream flavors, it comes from bee hives at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture.|