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Harrisburg filmmaker cuts to childhood dream, opens vegan ice cream business, Honey Bear

Harrisburg filmmaker cuts to childhood dream, opens vegan ice cream business, Honey Bear

  • Natalie Wallace made a complete career shift to launch Honey Bear — a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free ice cream company.
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Years ago, Natalie Wallace felt an inkling, a whisper, an intuition — she wanted to make ice cream.  

Beginning in high school, she dreamt with her siblings about starting an ice cream shop. What would it look like? Where would it be?  

There were only two problems: First, Natalie had never made ice cream in her life. Second, she was allergic.  

The soul-delighting experience of licking creamy, tongue-numbing custard left her sick. So, Natalie let the dream melt.   

Instead, she launched a world-traveling, six-figure wedding videography business, which expanded into a second commercial videography company.  

A cold shift 

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Natalie’s businesses ground to a halt. Like the rest of the world, she was trapped at home, looking for a comforting outlet.  

Natalie turned to ice cream.  

She began researching and experimenting with allergy-friendly ingredients and created a creamy, cold dessert almost indistinguishable from its milk-based counterpart that was dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly. 

It was an instant hit with her friends.  

Natalie knew she had found her next entrepreneurial endeavor. In 2021, she launched her Harrisburg-based vegan ice cream company, Honey Bear.  

“It can be scary to listen to intuition,” she says, “but I think my life has been amplified by what seems like crazy decisions — like starting an ice cream company when I’m a filmmaker.”  

Expanding the footprint 

The concept quickly grew.  

Instead of filming weddings, Natalie began spending her weekends in the Honey Bear Scoop Trailer, dipping frozen dishes of vegan cream at festivals and events around the region. Honey Bear pints can now be found in an expanding number of select grocery stores in Harrisburg, Lancaster, and Mechanicsburg, with more stores coming online soon.  

“I’m all in 100 percent,” she says. “Every day, there’s something that makes up for every difficulty. Knowing that our customers appreciate our product so much and that we’re filling a gap in the market makes every day worth it.”  

Despite having no commercial food production experience, Natalie has continued to grow and expand her business’s footprint.  

In March, she competed against seven other food and beverage startups in Pennsylvania and won first place with a cash prize of $20,000 in a virtual pitch event hosted by Ben Franklin Technology Partners for its Food and Beverage TechCelerator. 

‘All the twists and turns’ 

Within the next year, she’s aiming to build out a bigger manufacturing kitchen with a scoop shop and get into additional grocery stores in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. 

“I think our lives don’t have to be straight paths,” she says. “They’re made more interesting and beautiful by all the twists and turns. Just go for it. Don’t have any regrets. You only have one life.”