Skip to main content

Edmonton entrepreneur refusing to give up on dream after streak of bad luck


An Edmonton woman’s new ice cream business has been plagued by bad luck over the past few months, but the owner refuses to let the dream die.

“I have always loved ice cream, artisan ice cream is my favourite food group,” said Abby Ulanimo, the owner of DRTY Ice Cream.

During a trip to the Philippines in 2019, Ulanimo was inspired to bring a piece of her cultural heritage to Canada.

“I remember it being a really hot day, like plus 40 and you're stuck in traffic...really bad traffic and you just hear this random ringing bell,” said Ulanimo. “This man walked by with a wooden cart and (friends) said, ‘Oh that’s the sorbetero, the dirty ice cream.’

“Kids would always want to get a treat whenever they see the ice cream cart, so their parents, to kind of negate them from getting a treat, would be like, ‘Oh, don’t eat that, it’s from the street, it’s dirty ice cream’ and it got that nickname.”

Ulanimo launched DRTY Ice Cream in 2020. Initially, the ice cream was only available out of a single café, but she slowly expanded to selling pints out of other local businesses.

“I was just so intrigued by that story and I though this is what Filipino ice cream is and this is something that I would love to share with the people in Canada, in my city,” Ulanimo added.

Over the last several months, DRTY Ice Cream started taking hits, some literally. In January, a collision sent Ulanimo to the hospital and wrecked the car she had been using for the business, it was a write off.

“It kind of put a nick and a pause in an already difficult time to grow, especially as a small business owner, a person of colour, a female,” said Ulanimo. “I was able to say, ‘You know, let’s get past this, it sucks, but what’s going to happen next? What could happen?’”

After that incident, she acquired a van for the business and was gearing up to start doing events when the van was broken into.

On top of that, the thief took the garage door opener to the businesses storage garage and stole equipment, freezers, ingredients and ice cream.

“It just caused a huge dent in our production and my morale,” said Ulanimo. “Trying not to give up in this state, especially just starting out when things could be so much easier when you can just let it go, but my passion and dream was just there.

“I want people to try this ice cream and I want this vision to come true.”

To recover from this setback, she started a GoFundMe, received a lot of support and just when things were looking back up, they were hit again.

“We felt so much love and motivation from everyone so we decided to keep pushing through and last week I was driving to my day job I was struck by a drunk driver,” said Ulanimo. “We were struck from one direction and then the car spun around and we were struck again from the other direction.”

Ulanimo suffered more injuries, leaving her unable to work and the van was written off.

“It’s just been a lot of feeling helpless and what else could go wrong and it’s been really hard not to give up,” said Ulanimo, holding back tears.

DRTY Ice Cream’s summer relaunch was halted, but the community support has been helping keep the business going. The business is looking to hire more people and while not all of the stolen equipment has been replaced, they’re persevering.

“We don’t want this to stop us from sharing our love and passion for our Filipino culture,” said Ulanimo. “We also still want to achieve the dream that we have of one day having our own cart that we can serve from and sharing the experience of the sorbetero.”

Ulanimo added that the driver from the second crash has been arrested and is facing multiple charges.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jessica Robb Top Stories

How to avoid the trap of becoming 'house poor'

The journey to home ownership can be exciting, but personal finance columnist Christopher Liew warns about the trappings of becoming 'house poor' -- where an overwhelming portion of your income is devoured by housing costs. Liew offers some practical strategies to maintain better financial health while owning a home.

Stay Connected