Rabia Kamara: D.C.’s Ice Cream Woman

Black-owned Businesses

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After seeing the rarity of Black-owned quality dessert providers in the Washington D.C., a young Black business woman decided to change that and serve her own. Rabia Kamara is the creator of Ruby Scoops, a retailer of ice creams, sorbets, sherbets, and other desserts that started October 2014 in Northeast D.C.

Rabia Kamara is the founder and chef of the Ruby Scoops Ice Cream Parlor in Northeast D.C. (Courtesy photos)

Kamara, 28, a Silver Spring, Md. native, made Ruby Scoops when she noticed that desserts “were taking a bit of a backseat in D.C.” compared with other food items on the menu. “I’ve been to other ‘food cities’ where desserts [are] still kind of its own importance and I went to one restaurant where there’s more pages to the dessert menu than the food menu,” she told the AFRO. “When you spend money for services I feel like they should be to par, which is part of my issue with desserts in restaurants and things in general.”

Kamara brought Ruby Scoops to the metropolitan area not only for the love she has for her community but also a love for what she does. Her love for creating desserts began when she was five years old. “This is a labor of love, this is not about money,” said Kamara. “I like money, I look forward to making money, but I don’t cook for the money. I cook because I think I would go crazy if I did anything else.”  She attended Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville, Md.

In college, at the University of Virginia Commonwealth, Kamara originally studied marketing then switch to business management. After college, she attended culinary school L’Academie De Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Md. After she decided to attend culinary school, Kamara said she experienced a rift in her family which led to her setting up shop in the area.

“My mom was like, ‘What are you doing with your life?’ so I figured if I was to do this I may as well come home to do it in her face,” she said.

Kamara, who is a first generation African-American, said, “African parents are very much about ‘I told you so’ and to this day, that’s probably one of my biggest driving factors. I don’t ever want to hear my mom say ‘I told you so,’ even if she has the right to.”

Being from a diverse community like Silver Spring, Kamara said she faced new racial difficulties as a young Black woman in the business world. “The whole food thing on the East Coast is all like White dudes and it’s really hard as a woman of color to walk up to someone and say ‘Hey, I would like you to teach me how to do everything you do.’ For some reason, that’s just not something that White men like to hear so it was really hard for me to figure out how to get into a kitchen,” Kamara said. “And when I got into the kitchen, it was hard for me to figure out how to express what my needs and wants are without them being misconstrued like I’m some angry Black [woman].”

Ruby Scoops uses Manheim, Penn.-based Kreider Farms dairy, cage free eggs, cane sugar, and seasonal fruit from local Black-owned farms. “I have personal relationships with the farmers that I work with . . . I see them on a bi-weekly basis, I check in with them about how things are going,” said Kamara. “This is not just about me making money but it’s about me putting money back in the hands of not only my local economy in general but my Black economy as well. I focus very heavily on collaborating with other small businesses.” She said her company donates to charitable causes that involve minority youth.

Ruby Scoops is currently served at a variety of farmers markets, eateries, and grocery stores in the area.