ANTIGONISH: While the hot summer sun is usually public enemy number one for an ice cream cone, it’s keeping one local ice cream shop running.
Happy Cones is a solar-powered ice cream trailer created, owned, and operated by high school students, designed to promote the incredible benefits of solar energy while providing youth summer employment.
The mastermind behind what is the first solar-powered ice cream trailer in Nova Scotia and what could very well be the first of its kind in Canada, is Nicky Nicholson, a Grade 9 student at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School.
As the owner and operator of Happy Cones, Nicholson developed the portable solar-powered ice cream trailer to provide summer employment, not only for herself, but for her high school classmates as well.
With some assistance from of her family, the young entrepreneur purchased a small aluminum trailer, a 15 cubic foot storage freezer and constructed a serving counter with storage to accommodate sinks, a potable water supply, a small water pump, and a water heater.
The ice cream trailer is encompassed by a 3,000-watt solar power unit to run the equipment, along with four 100-watt solar roof panels.
While her ice cream stand is 100 per cent solar-powered and completely self-sufficient, its benefits go far beyond just scooping a refreshing treat on a hot summer day.
“It’s a wonderful educational, promotional, and marketing tool for the incredible benefits of solar energy to our town, community, province, and all of Canada,” Nicholson said.
She was able to make her business idea a reality and launched her business on July 8 with support from sponsors such as, Efficiency Nova Scotia, Clean NS, Brilliant Labs, Indigenous Clean Energy, Nova Scotia Power, Celcold, Scotsburn Joins Farmers, and RBC.
Nicholson also highlighted receiving tremendous support from StFX University’s Innovation and Enterprise Centre and their Girls Mean Business Program, where she participated in the eight-week summer program offered for girls aged 14 – 19 living in Antigonish who are interested in entrepreneurship.
“The program teaches young girls about the various aspects of running their own micro-business including design, marketing, sales, and launching their business into action,” she said.
This would be where she created and developed her idea for Happy Cones.
Partnering with her local radio station, 98.9 XFM, to get her message out with the great advantage of being “off-grid” and fully mobile, Happy Cones developed a highly visible sales and location plan which includes daily visits to shopping malls, parks, playgrounds, and high traffic areas.
“We are very pleased to support Happy Cones,” Antigonish Warden Owen McCarron said. “A true ambassador and champion in our community for solar power and energy efficiency.”
In addition, she plans to participate in her local and surrounding communities’ social, recreational, and sports events and activities including the Antigonish Farmer’s Market.
“We’re so happy to see young entrepreneurs thinking green and keeping community sustainability top of mind,” Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher said. “Happy Cones has shown how the great benefits of solar power can be used in creative ways and is a model for all of us to consider using solar to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Happy Cones will not only create youth summer employment for many years to come but also promote energy efficiency, solar power, and care for our environment in a unique, fun, and educational way.