Mikey Likes It

When you think of ice cream, you think of summertime fun and the memories that you created with your friends and families. You don't think of the hard work that goes into making that ice cream or the people it may actually help. Help—yes, you read that correctly. Ice cream is an escape for many from their day-to-day stresses, and though it isn't thought of in that moment, one scoop washes all the negative vibes away for a hot minute. That's what the Mikey Likes It Ice Cream experience delivers. Owner Michael Cole aka Mikey Likes It is on a mission to ensure that all who step into his shop—whether kids, teachers, a police officer or just people from around the way—get their magical scoop and are good to go. Like his recipes, Mikey has his own little secret: his G-Shock. Mikey's G-Shock keeps him on point and focused, whether he is making a fresh batch in time for opening or heading to meetings with his business partner, Ahkeem. Don’t let that sweet face fool you. While Mikey is filled with flavorful love, running a shop in the East Village of New York requires absolute toughness.

We chilled with Mikey while we were sent to cloud nine by the custom flavors he made for the G-Shock and RESPECT. team. Here's what he had to say about his daily grind, how ice cream changed his life and how his G-Shock watch keeps him from melting down.

How did you come up with the idea for Mikey Likes It Ice Cream?

Mikey Likes It Ice Cream came about from, really, a recipe that was my aunt’s. My late aunt Lucy, as I was cleaning out her apartment, I actually found a cookbook with a bunch of her recipes, and one of them was for vanilla ice cream. I didn't have much to do at the time, so I decided to try to make this vanilla ice cream. I didn't have a machine or anything, and I went downstairs, bought some supplies and made the ice cream in my freezer. It wasn't the right texture nor flavor I was looking for, and it just got me curious, tinkering with the actual recipe. Then I created another recipe from it, and that's actually the base of all the ice cream that we make now.

After you found the recipe, what led you to create all the different flavors and combinations that you have now?

It was the thought process of a moment. When we as people grow up, we all sort of do the same thing. When you’re in your house during Christmastime, on Christmas day, and the TV marathons are running, I don’t know how many times I told myself, “I’m not going to be watching that.” Yet while I’m eating dinner, I find myself watching the marathons. So I thought that, you know, these moments or thoughts that we have as our past, a lot of us have them together, and this is one way to bring people together and create community in a positive manner.

How did all the hip-hop influence come? And how did hip-hop culture give you support? Is it because you're a fan?

Yes, it's pop culture. Pop culture inspires us so many times to do a lot of things. Pop culture, if it's not fashion, if it's not movies, that's what really drives our society, and so this is one reflection of giving people from all walks and ways of life a moment to really stop and smell the roses, [rather than] just the way we move robotically through the city.

What has been the best experience you’ve had so far since you opened the shop?

Wow, it's really the smiles and the appreciation from the kids or just from the people in general. A child is so young that they don't have a filter or know how to tell you false. So a child will tell you if they like it—“yes,” or if they don't, it's a “yuck.” But what's awesome is that children will come in and say, “Hey, Mikey, I love your ice cream.” They’ll give me a pound and talk about what they did all day, and it lets me realize the child is opening up. How many times do we tell children not to talk to strangers? Kids come in here and open up their lives to us as staff, and it's rather cool to see what the product of ice cream can do by breaking people's senses down.

You're a pretty busy guy. Is time ever a huge factor in what you do?

Time is my worst enemy, I tell you that. Learning to be on time—that's the thing I have to work on, and we all have different time schedules. And this is just one thing, no pun intended, where your time is frozen when you come in here. We want you to come in here and not worry about what the world has to offer you on the other side of these doors.

You and G-Shock have come up with a couple of flavors for the “Masters of G” series. Can you tell us a little about that and how you came to it?

Okay, taking inspiration from the product itself, we’re going to re-interrupt your vision from our medium. When you have three watches that combine elements of the world here—you have land, sea and air—what we did was thoughtfully broke down those three components into flavors. The elements of the watches come from the inspiration from what you're creating. After determining what the “Masters of G” series was about, we decided to make three flavors that would match the watches. So breaking down the “Masters of G” series into “Land,” “Sea” and “Air,” we decided to give you three flavors that would transcend you right into those three elements. To match the first watch, “Land,” we created cashew-butter ice cream, and that will have vanilla, pomegranate-coated cashews and a caramel swirl. Now, that right there takes you to the mud, the foundation of what land is, which you build upon, and that's why we went with that. With “Air,” we decided to represent the sky, the clouds, with a blue-raspberry ice cream and cookies-and-cream version, using white Oreos but then bringing in a cloudberry jam, cloudberry preservatives, to represent those elements and put you right to that. The third one, “Sea,” we decided to use coconut water blended with shredded coconut as the base of the ice cream. And as sea, we couldn't really find a seaweed or an algae, but we thought of a wheat grass and mixed it with caramel, and that makes a green swirl that gives you the water with the sea. That's our interpretation of the “Masters of G” series.

What do you think of G-Shock watches? Are they watches that can keep up with you in this fast-paced, messy business?

Oh, most definitely. I remember G-Shock watches [and how] as child you would go to stores and get them in different colors, ’cause the bands were really stylish. The face was a different color and you’d match the white strap here or another color strap here, and it’d match your outfit, and you’d have, like, four or five different G-Shock faces, but with a lot of different straps. The temperature monitor and all the dials tell you everything you need to know in one solid case. This is definitely a great accessory to have in life.

Are there any similarities between G-Shock, as a company that's been around a long time, and yourself? You said the children come in to look at all of the colors and flavors. That's very similar to ice cream, right?

Yes. We are a small business here, but it's the big things that we try to focus on, and so big companies—even companies with longevity such as Casio—have a system they put in place for how they handle their structure and how they sift out products. There is a certain method to how they release and assemble their timepieces. So we as a small business look at this as a way to learn, and these are lessons that we take and put into our business so our message can be conveyed the same way to the consumer.

You refer to it as a movement. Can you explain that a little bit more?

Of course. You know, I am a child who was raised in this neighborhood. Too many times they look at people in the urban community and say that we are products of our environment, and then it's taken in a negative connotation. This is a spotlight of positivity, a place where we feel nothing negative happens, and so we are able to get other kids from the neighborhood to look at this business and replicate it. It doesn't have to be ice cream; it just has to be something positive, something that you're passionate about and something that helps build the community. That's what we call our movement. For Thanksgiving we feed over 100 families in the neighborhood. For Christmas we gave out over 250 jackets—that's what our movement is about. It's about strengthening the communities, going into the urban communities where people are disadvantaged and creating a safe haven and a positive light for the youth, because they’re the ones who are going to carry the torch for us to continue.

Is there anything we should know that is coming up for Mikey Likes It? Or is the shop just too busy this summer?

For us it's a year-round situation. We live life 365 days. So our thing is to be teaching and aggressive with this ice cream world we live every day. Every day we look to grow as people and better ourselves. We look to wake up the next day and see how we can change and be better, the next one and the next one. So what you're going to keep seeing from us is growth. You see us already here for about a little bit over two years, next year you'll see another set of growth, and every time you see us, we should be growing as a community and also as individuals.