GROWN UP WEST children of the blackfeet reservation


 

Kool Breeze 

In 2012, Isaiah and Ian Webber returned home to the Blackfeet Reservation looking for work, but faced slim prospects, as the reservation’s unemployment rate hovered around 69%. Isaiah had just completed two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and his younger brother, Ian was home from college for the summer; both needed jobs. After months of unsuccessfully looking for work, the Webber family decided to create their own opportunity—the Kool Breeze Ice Cream Truck. Ian and Isaiah converted a passenger van into a mobile vending truck while their mother, Susan, used her accounting background to craft a business plan. With the assistance of a matching grant from the Blackfeet Tribe, they purchased the first month’s inventory. Kool Breeze became a community-wide success, selling out of ice cream week after week throughout the summer of 2012. The Kool Breeze Ice Cream Truck enjoyed a second successful summer in 2013. The owners expanded their menu to include 20 ice cream treats plus new products like candy and drinks. They repainted the exterior of the truck, hired three employees and even offered delivery service for “ice cream emergencies.” Ian has gained recognition around town, where he is affectionately known by all as “Ice Cream Man.” Looking toward the summer of 2014, the Webbers’ goal is to add another truck to the fleet in order to serve the reservation’s outlying communities. Kool Breeze will also accept credit cards and food stamps. Susan’s long-term goal is to extend the business into the winter by selling espresso and coffee drinks. Kool Breeze is a rare example of entrepreneurial achievement on the Blackfeet Reservation, where there are very few Native-owned businesses.

 

Browning kids are thrilled for the arrival of the Kool Breeze Ice Cream Truck on their street.
Isaiah Webber works the window as customers line up outside of the Last Star Homes housing development on the Blackfeet Reservation.
Ian Webber cruises his ice cream truck through the streets of Browning, in search of customers while blasting music from his ipod over the truck's speakers.
Youth rodeo particpants buy ice cream during a break.
A girl purchases treats for her siblings outside of the Blackfeet Community Pool in Browning, Montana
Kool Breezes most popular products  are the novelty ice cream pops like Batman, Madagascar, Sponge Bob and Hello Kitty.
A Kool Breeze customer counts her money
Employee, Robert Hall takes a mid-day inventory
Carlin Grounds purchases ice cream sandwiches for herself and her adult daughter Aubrey Grounds.
Left to right, Ian Webber (22) and Robert Hall (27) take a break and enjoy some ice cream.
In the summer of 2013, Kool Breeze expanded their menu to include a wider variety of ice cream plus mixed candy bags and beverages.
Middle school friends enjoy their ice cream in the rural community of Heart Butte.  While the Kool Breeze truck rarely makes it to this remote town with the exception of celebrations such as Heart Butte Youth Day
Kool Breezes most popular products  are the novelty ice cream pops like Batman, Madagascar, Sponge Bob and Hello Kitty
(Left to right) At the end of the workday, Robert Hall and Ian Webber calculate the days gross sales.  The Webber house is home base for the Kool Breeze business- and Ians mother,  Susan Webber does the accounting and bookkeeping for Kool Breeze
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© 2017 Rebecca Drobis