Most kids like ice cream, but few love it as much as St. Charles resident Kimberly Elam, whose parents nicknamed her “Dairy Queen” because she enjoys it so much.
The “Dairy Queen” is known better as Kimmer these days, as in Kimmer’s Ice Cream. Those desiring delicious classics and gourmet flavors, as well as ice cream cakes and pies, have fallen in love with her St. Charles store so much that she opened her second location in Wheaton earlier this year.
“She’s always been in love with the ice cream business and has worked in those kinds of stores since she was a kid,” said Ashley Mayer, mission manager at JJR Marketing, who nominated Elam for a Best Under 40 award. “She loves what she does, and she loves serving her customers. Plus, giving back to the community is important to her.”
Growing up in Batavia, Elam took her first job at the local Baskin-Robbins when she was 16. She may not have known it at the time, but it would mark her beginning in the ice cream business. She later would work at the Batavia Creamery and Cold Stone.
She studied English at the University of Iowa, but it was getting her Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management and then attending Ice Cream University on the East Coast that paved the way for her to open Kimmer’s Ice Cream in 2011.
She was never afraid to follow her dreams.
“I remember graduating from college and telling my friends and family what I wanted to do and they were like, ‘What, you’re 22; you’re not going to do that,’ ” she said. “I learned how to make ice cream, because Baskin-Robbins and the other places I worked at got it sourced out. I made a business plan and went after it. I wanted it to be upbeat and pink, and I wanted to make kids and families happy about being here.”
Who wouldn’t be happy? Whether they’re enjoying something as basic as chocolate or vanilla, or as interesting as Sunday Morning Breakfast, which is french toast muffin pieces in maple ice cream.
“She wants to do it all,” Mayer said. “Whether it’s making ice cream or scooping it, she just loves what she does. She loves seeing the smile on kids’ faces.”
She uses fresh fruits, nuts, syrups, extracts, cookies and brownies and has founded the Kimmer’s Kares partnership program.
Kimmer’s Kares gives 10 percent of qualifying sales back to schools and other nonprofit organizations that wish to schedule fundraisers.
“She definitely likes to be involved with the community and give back,” Mayer said. “She makes people feel like family to her business. She’s just a total powerhouse and is showing no signs of slowing down.”
Although, she does occasionally take a break and sit down and enjoy some ice cream. After all, if she’s making it, she deserves to enjoy it, too.
“I really like the chocolate chip cookie dough,” Elam said. “But, we also now have a mint chocolate chip meltaway that’s so good.”
About the award
Through Tuesday, Sept. 22, the Kane County Chronicle is recognizing 12 area professionals younger than age 40 who have made significant contributions to their profession, company and community. To read the Best Under 40 profiles online, visit www.kcchronicle.com/bestunder40/2015.