In a time where Instagram feeds are saturated with photos of the newest healthy food trends and weight loss tea promotions, it’s hard to find an authentic voice that uses a platform to add value to the community. When individuals create and share products that they truly believe in, it’s hard for us not to take notice. Salim Weldon, co-founder of Whimsicle has definitely captivated us with his work. His passion for providing a healthy alternative snack to the community blends seamlessly into his lifestyle. With the colorful fruit treats, he is mastering the art of running a business all while feeding the starved. Stay to read his colorful story, be drawn in by his infectious energy (yes you can feel it through the words), and add don’t forget to add “Buy Whimsicles” to your to-do list.
Culture Starved (CS): First of all, please introduce yourself to our readers.
Salim Weldon (SW): My name is Salim Weldon. I am co-owner of Whimsicle, Organic Fruit Popsicles. My partner’s name is Tonae Simon. Tonae Simon was really making Whimsicle for her older son. She did it for his birthday party for him and about 25 classmates and probably 25 parents and from that event led to us wanting to create healthy alternative snacks. We didn’t want to give our kids or anybody’s kids sugar. So she figured out how to make this and our first time really showing it to anybody besides family was at his party. After that party, one of my friends called me and he’s Haitian, he’s a really cool guy that’s a tow truck driver in Philadelphia. But when he has parties and when he has cookouts, I want to say like a thousand people come.
SW: So, when he had his cookout I showed him a picture of Whimsicle. I told him if he wanted his party to be talked about for years that he should support this product. And basically that’s what he did. He bought like two hundred and I brought about seven hundred with me. And for that seven hundred, it went really fast, probably in like an hour. So at the cookout we asked everybody not to put it on social media because we weren’t ready for it to come out as a business. His sister still put it on social media so at that point we went from five hundred followers to twenty-five hundred overnight. Everybody was like ‘Where do you get it from? Where do you get it from?’ And then somebody asked me if I could come to Atlanta, his name is Salon Ramsey. He asked me if I could fly to Atlanta. I always say this to everybody, if you can pay for my ticket and you pay for us to have somewhere to stay like a hotel, I’m coming. After that, I flew to Atlanta. I brought Whimsicles with me. While we were in the salon in Atlanta, Mama D was in there as well and they were taping part of Love & Hip Hop and I was able to get a contract with VH1 to do Mama D’s birthday party.
CS: Oh cool! That must have been great exposure.
SW: After I did that, social media went crazy. I came back to Philly and received a call to go to Paris for a wedding. So, Whimsicle was in a wedding in Paris, the popsicles. So, after I did that I met Kodak Lens and Emory Jones from Roc Nation, I met those guys at Made in America the first year. After meeting those guys, they were going to be my mentors – they said they were going to call me at the right time. They called me to open up their sneaker store in Brooklyn it’s called Roc N’ Sole. So, I ended up doing their sneaker store for them and I started getting more reviews, I was reading reviews from more celebrities. To this day, Spike Lee had Whimsicles, Will Smith family had Whimsicles, Kevin Hart, we did an event for the Obamas, numerous NFL camps, anybody that’s in the NBA or NFL that’s from Philadelphia, I do all of their camps. So instead of them buying Gatorade, they’ll buy Whimsicles and pass them out to the kids.
CS: It looks like you have a lot of impact in your community. Tell me, what is the purpose behind Whimsicle?
SW: Well the purpose is to fight childhood obesity and diabetes. So it’s 100% organic fruit, we don’t add any sugar. I’m a counselor and my son’s mother, that’s my partner, she’s an RN. So have therapeutic backgrounds and understand that if we fight childhood obesity and raise self-esteem, we lower suicide rates. We raise self-esteem all in this process, all through Whimsicle.
CS: In addition to that what value do you believe that you’re brand gives to people?
SW: You know, we are providing a healthy alternative snack for our community. So the values of giving a product that can be eaten by a seven year old all the way up to a seventy year old and still receive the same vitamins and everything that the body needs, that’s one of the biggest things that we can provide as of right now. Also on our new sticks we’ll have good deeds and positive affirmations. So it’ll say Whimsicle on the bottom of it and it’ll say good deeds to kids. It’ll also say positive affirmations on them, so we’ll do some things with raising their self-esteem and things like that. So overall, we just support our community. For the urban community, I’m really trying to provide a healthy snack and also raise our self-esteem. Help kids eat healthier at a younger age so they can be smarter and get better jobs.
So overall, we just support our community.
CS: That’s awesome! Speaking of jobs, when we spoke before, you mentioned high school interns, tell me a little bit about that.
SW: Yeah, so we want to work with high school interns. We are also going into the colleges. So we are going to provide different jobs and opportunities for college kids and eventually help them receive college credits. So maybe also working with some younger kids. I want to start like entrepreneurship where kids almost like what the Alex Lemonade thing does, I want to provide kids with maybe an opportunity to start a franchise.
CS: Love it!
SW: So maybe I’ll get a push cart for them and provide them with the Whimsicles and we’ll start them off at first, but eventually they’ll be able to own their own franchise.
CS: Very cool. So it’s really adding value to the community. The thing is, a lot of children don’t have that sort of resource or mentorship from adults who really want to see them succeed, so that’s amazing.
SW: Even with myself, I don’t have a mentor in the ice novelty field because there aren’t many Americans that sell it.
CS: Understood. I can appreciate what you are trying to do. I feel like our generation is really trying to give back where we felt that we lacked so I think that’s amazing. What’s the culture like within Whimsicle? How do you work, how does the team work?
SW: So to be honest it’s only really me, my son, my son’s mom, and I have photographers that work with us. I don’t really have a crew. Nobody really knows that. I provide and I get everything done, you know what I’m saying? But the culture would be consumer or customer first. We always have to smile. Any picture that I take I always smile, I never take pictures with people with cups in their hands because I am providing and promoting a children’s products. So if I do that, if I take pictures with people with cups in their hand, it could look bad, like it’s alcohol.
SW: Another thing that we try to do, let’s say that I ship out an order and it doesn’t get there in time, I always guarantee a person their order. We just try to always make sure the customer is right.
CS: Right, that’s always good, keeping it people-focused. So, you said it before – you build really good partnerships with people and different organizations. So, what do you think makes a valuable partnership and how do you personally seek out partnerships?
SW: Well a valuable partnership is 50/50, everything is 50/50. You know, I bring something to the table, you bring something to the table and whatever goal that we have together that we want to intertwine with, we come together and do that. There are certain people like Roc Nation, I really love those guys, I want to work with those guys, I hope that one day they manage me as a popsicle company. That would be a pretty good deal as a popsicle company, haha. But, I don’t really seek them out.
CS: Like synergy?
SW: Yeah, synergy. Everything’s got to make sense for all of us. You have to really come together in a manner that makes sense. You know, we have our own watches. I’m talking to some big companies and you have to really angle stuff to get these big companies want to deal with you. Again, I have culture behind me. I’m a black male Muslim. Me and my son’s mother, we are black Muslims. We have something that big companies want – we have the community, we have the attention of the youth.
CS: So, what are some of your proudest moments with this business?
SW: Being in Roc Nation building. Meeting mentors, Courtney Lowrey, Emory Jones, Lenny S , B Dot… Who else? I met Steve as well. His dad started Def Jam, he’s been purchasing Whimsicle for me, I’ve been talking to him about anything that I need to talk to him about. I don’t know, when you start saying names, you don’t want to leave people out haha. Oh yeah, and Jeff! That’s all I can say as my mentors right now. You know, these guys got me. But also, I want to put in something special for our investor. His name is Jahri Evans. He plays offensive lineman for the New Orleans Saints. That’s our investor, he gave us a lot of money. He was able to help us buy manufacturing and mass production machinery.
CS: Oh, the machinery you just got?
SW: Yeah, the stuff that I just got. But yeah, that guy, he’s a life saver. He took me to the next level. This is my friend. I will be working vert closely with Jahri Evans Foundation, a nonprofit. He’s a mentor, like a brother and a business partner of mine. Jahri has a football camp where he services about a thousand kids every summer for free and Whimsicle sponsors that event every year. We have a partnership where we will be the sponsor for a lifetime.
CS: Wow, you have a lot going on! So, what do you see as the ultimate goal for Whimsicle?
SW: The goal is to be in every airport, every supermarket, every baseball field, football field, stadium, every school district, that’s just how it’s going to be. I don’t think I’ll even have a brick and mortar. If it really gets big, I would try to do something like Hershey Park.
CS: So what else do you think your business needs in order to reach that goal?
SW: I mean, always financial. Different partners that have different knowledge to contribute. I mean we could do it but it’s like if I had somebody that’s like, you know, you can one thousand ship these Whimsicles for like a hundred dollars versus what it costs now.
CS: What do you believe is the best thing people can do to support you in this business?
SW: Word of mouth, tell people about our business! Well, the first thing is, a person has to want to eat healthy. So it’s a mind thing for themselves. They have to want to eat healthy. Then, once they want to eat healthy, Whimsicle is right there for them.
CS: You have any specific inspirations? Anything or anyone or any sort of music or anything that just kind of gets you going?
SW: I like Meek, you already know, we from Philly, haha. We gone say my boy, because what he did was he put Philly back on the map. He helped me without even co-signing my company, helped me get into the Roc Nation building. Nobody does stuff like Philly, no other place. Philly guys, we run stuff. It’s easy. Beanie Sigel, Will Smith.
When it comes to music, I want to mention Meek, Nas, and Jay Z. Due to Whimsicle, I was able to link up and was able to have personal conversations with all three of them. Those are my rappers. Through their music, I was really able to really have a situation with these guys, make money.
People always say, you know, why you on planes all the time? We come from nothing. Well you know I came from something, my family had money haha, but when you come from feeding yourself, raising yourself…that’s why I tell my son Bariq, he goes everywhere with me, every office I’ve ever been in. Every person that’s ever had a Whimsicle that’s major, a celebrity, or just important, they know about Bariq. I’m going to Miami tomorrow, he’s going to be with me. I told him, you know, you need me tomorrow? I can come but you know I have to bring my son, and I’ll bring him. And my son is going to help me win because I’m going to let him walk Whimsicle.
Enjoyed his perspective? Find out more about Salim and Whimsicle using the links below.
Whimsicle Instagram: @_whimsicle