About the Company - Company Information

Three Twins at a Glance
Company launch date: August 27, 2005
Company mission: To produce inconceivably delicious organic ice cream that is affordable and accessible
Number of scoop shops: 4 in Northern California
Size of first scoop shop: 580 square feet
Number of scoop shop flavors: Approximately 100, rotated throughout the year
Number of packaged flavors: 21
Packaged sizes available: 5 ounce cups, 16 ounce pints, and 32 ounce quarts
Total Packaged SKUs 39
Bulk sizes available: 10-quart tubs and 5-liter pans
Factory opening date: February 2010
Factory square footage: 4,200 square feet + 5,000 square feet of warehouses
Size of freezers in factory: 1,000 square feet
Ingredients in our base: 4 – milk, cream, sugar and eggs
Number of employees: Approximately 50
Certified organic by: California Certified Organic Farms (CCOF)
1% for the Planet number: Member #293

The Three Twins Story

Founding Twin Neal Gottlieb came to ice cream by way of a New Jersey childhood, undergraduate studies at Cornell University, a Peace Corps stint in Morocco and jobs at Gap and Levi Strauss. He was working at Levi’s when he applied and was accepted to business school, but he didn’t receive the fellowship he was hoping for. Instead of spending $110,000 for an MBA, Neal decided to launch his own business with $70,000 in savings and a $25,000 loan from The Bank of Mom and Dad.

When Neal registered for business planning classes at Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, he was sharing a San Francisco-area apartment with his twin brother, Carl, and Carl’s fiancée, Liz. They had already dubbed the trio’s home “Three Twins,” and when it came time to name his new company, Neal couldn’t think of a better business name. Three Twins Ice Cream was born.

Finding the first location was a challenge, as few landlords wanted to take a chance on someone with little money and little experience. To complicate the problem, the commercial real estate market was very strong at the time. After Neal looked for locations in and around San Francisco, his friend mentioned a vacant storefront in San Rafael’s Terra Linda neighborhood. The former taqueria space was in rough shape, but Neal signed a lease and started renovations in April 2005.

The construction he thought would take two months took nearly five. Still, Neal worked throughout that summer, and thanks to last-minute late-night help from his twin, Carl, and their older brother, Mark, Three Twins officially opened on August 27, 2005. Neal worked on four hours of sleep that first day, and he remained the company’s only employee for several more months. He would make ice cream in the morning, run the shop all day, clean up at night and finish paperwork after that. It was a challenging schedule, but Neal was thrilled to finally be in business.

Days after opening, Three Twins kicked off its tradition of charitable giving by hosting a post-Hurricane Katrina “name your own price” event that raised more than $1,300 for the Louisiana Environmental Action Network. The neighborhood kids returned to school less than a week later, and daily sales were sometimes dismal during that first winter. The worst day in Three Twins’ sales history was a cold, rainy Monday when the company sold just $49 worth of ice cream.

To boost revenue, Neal launched the wholesale side of the business, which required extra construction. During the month of February 2006, Neal worked with a contractor from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. and then opened the shop in the afternoon. By April, Rose’s Café in San Francisco ordered a few tubs of Madagascar Vanilla and became the company’s first restaurant client. That same month, Three Twins received its organic certification and joined 1% for the Planet. By the fall, Three Twins started scooping at the Berkeley Farmers' Market and began packing pints to sell in area supermarkets.

Things took off from there. Today, Three Twins Ice Cream operates four company-owned scoop shops (the original Terra Linda space in San Rafael, on Fillmore and Haight in San Francisco, in Napa’s Oxbow Public Market and at Marin Country Mart in Larkspur). The company opened a dedicated ice cream factory in Petaluma, California, in 2010. Three Twins also sells wholesale to Bay Area restaurants, and distributes packaged ice cream nationwide through Whole Foods Market, The Fresh Market and a variety of independent grocers and corner markets.

While the company has grown, its mission remains unchanged: To produce inconceivably delicious organic ice cream that is affordable and accessible. Three Twins still donates one percent of sales to land conservation initiatives through 1% for the Planet. We still use organic ingredients and serve our scoops in compostable dishes and spoons. We still enjoy what we do. And, we always enjoy making our customers’ lives just a little sweeter in the process.

Hungry for more? View a presentation highlighting Three Twins’ background and mission here.