Ample Hills Creamery co-founders Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna have reportedly been fired from their own business less than six months after they bought back the beloved ice cream brand.
The pair told Inc. that the investors pushed the duo out because of clashes with Ample Hills’ new CEO Lisa Teach, who is also an investor.
Smith and Cuscuna admitted that they often clashed with Teach over various issues, including company’s culture and branding, according to the report. The investors, according to the couple, had gotten tired of them “fighting with their CEO, and they made the decision to ultimately side with their CEO instead of the founders.”
It’s a shocking turn of events for the Brooklyn-based brand, which the couple founded in 2011. Smith and Cuscuna, who are married, enjoyed almost unheard of success with Ample Hills out the gate, winning accolades from the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Disney’s Bob Iger. But rapid over-expansion led to financial difficulties that ultimately forced them to sell their home-churned brand to Schmitt Industries in 2020, which in turn bungled their own management of the company.
With the help of the investors who are now reportedly ousting them, the couple was able to buy back Ample Hills for $150,000 and reopen a small number of their shuttered locations. In June, the original location in Prospect Heights relaunched to the delight of fans and with renewed optimism.
However, the relationship between the pair and its investors apparently soured like spoiled dairy. Inc. reported that their contract didn’t include an equity stake in the relaunched business and that the board could terminate. “We did a little too much trusting and not enough verifying,” Smith told the magazine.
“We’re just kind of devastated about the whole experience,” Cuscuna said. “It wasn’t just a job for us. The communities that we created through the shops, the brands, the ice cream, the creativity — it was our life’s work.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article misreported that Smith and Cuscuna still own the Social. They own a small minority stake. They also were not at will employees as stated.