Mavens Creamery: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

Ice cream sandwiches are a much-loved nostalgic dessert. But they could be made even better if the homemade ice cream was sandwiched between the delicate French cookie treats known as macarons (not to be confused with macaroons) rather than just standard cookies. That was the thinking of Gwen and Christine Nguyen from San Jose, California, who, in 2014, decided to launch a range of macaron ice cream sandwiches.

Beyond common Western flavors, the sisters were especially interested in using Asian-inspired flavors, in honor of their Vietnamese heritage. And having realized there was a gap in the market, they launched Mavens Creamery. Despite not having any culinary experience at all, the pair turned to the internet for cookery tips and set about making the macarons and ice creams themselves from home.

The macron ice cream sandwiches proved popular, and the Nguyen sisters were able to open a commercial kitchen in 2015. And by 2019, with production already up to 7000 units every day, they turned to "Shark Tank," seeking investment to grow their Mavens Creamery business.

What happened to Mavens Creamery on Shark Tank

Gwen and Christine Nguyen appeared on "Shark Tank" season 10 in 2019, seeking $400,000 for a 10% stake in their business, Mavens Creamery. Already selling in 22 states, the sisters were hoping to use the investment to automate the process of making their macaron ice cream sandwiches. This would drive labor costs down, and help to increase profit margins for the company.

Mavens Creamery had already expanded its offering to 30 flavors of macaron ice cream sandwiches by the time the show was filmed, with eight flavors available at any one time. The sisters offered the Sharks four popular flavors to sample — cookies and cream, strawberry shortcake, salted caramel, and chocolate toasted almond — and the Sharks were suitably impressed with the quality and taste.

But Barbara Corcoran, who was moved by the family story of the sisters and the hard-working ethic inspired by their father, was the only Shark to make an offer. Corcoran offered the $400,000 (as $200,000 plus a $200,000 line of credit) but asked for a third of the business. The Nguyens countered with 20 percent and eventually agreed on 25 percent for a deal with Corcoran.

Mavens Creamery after Shark Tank

Following Mavens Creamery's appearance on "Shark Tank," the deal with Shark Barbara Corcoran fell through. And the decision appears to have been mutual, with the Nguyens and Corcoran struggling to agree on the logistics of expanding the business. Gwen Ngyuen explained in an interview with Tasting Table after the show that a major sticking point was "we felt like we were being asked to give up too much of our company."

Unlike many businesses, Mavens Creamery didn't feel that it got a spike in sales after appearing on "Shark Tank," mainly because the business was centered on supplying retailers rather than selling to the public. But the business did go on to expand and slowly began to automate the production process, which was the original aim had it received investment from a Shark. In 2021, Mavens unveiled a new automation machine to help package the macarons more efficiently.

Though Christine Ngyuen left the business, with sister Gwen remaining as CEO, Mavens Creamery stayed true to its ambitions to focus on more Asian-inspired flavors. And one new product, in particular, would prove to be a huge success: pints of ice cream made with durian, the pungent, custardy Southeast Asian fruit.

Is Mavens Creamery still in business?

Mavens Creamery is not only still in business, but is thriving, largely thanks to increasing its product range to include pints of ice cream rather than just macaron ice cream sandwiches. The company's durian ice cream has proved immensely popular, being sold in Costco across seven regions in just the first nine months since its launch. And the product is about to expand further, with the imminent arrival in December 2023 of "thousands of durian ice cream packs" (via Instagram) in Costco in the Northwest.

When Mavens Creamery appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2019, the ambition was to reach $2 million in sales that year. Some of the Sharks appeared skeptical, with Kevin O'Leary estimating that the brand was worth around $600,000 to $800,000 at the time. But by fall 2023, Gwen Ngyuen revealed that Mavens Creamery had reached "at least five times" the original projection of $2 million this year (via Tasting Table.)

In November 2023, several Costcos in the Southeast had completely sold out of the durian ice cream, with more stock due in January 2024. The macaron ice cream sandwiches are stocked by retailers including Safeway, Wholefoods, and many more. And the success looks only to continue for Mavens.

What's next for Mavens Creamery?

Mavens Creamery's launch of pints of durian ice cream has proved to be a breakthrough product and a runaway success for the brand, being sold in Costcos across several regions. It's the first durian ice cream sold by the retail giant, and Mavens is also hoping to expand its presence into other stores beyond Costco in the future.

Unsurprisingly, Mavens Creamery plans to capitalize on the success of its durian ice cream by developing other flavors of ice creams in the future, with a focus on more Southeast Asian-influenced tastes. And if they prove even half as popular as the durian flavor, Mavens will be onto a winner.

With both the macaron ice cream sandwiches and the Southeast Asian-inspired pints of ice cream, Mavens Creamery has continued to forge its own unique path, despite the deal with a Shark not coming to fruition. And with all sorts of routes for expansion possible, from new flavors and products to diversifying its retail options, the future looks very sweet indeed for the brand.