Philadelphia native brings a unique treat to the Tampa Bay area

Auntie PJ’s Philadelphia Water Ice

When Priscilla Jackson moved to the Bay area, she fell in love with the sunny skies and warm weather Florida offers. However, she quickly realized a few things were missing from the Bay area that left her homesick for the Northeast.

Not having water ice in the Tampa Bay area was the catalyst that led to Jackson taking matters into her own hands and bringing a taste of Philly to the Tampa Bay area.

“I moved here from Philadelphia in 2016 and I realized I couldn’t find anything close to the frozen, iconic treat that I’m used to having in Philadelphia called water ice,” Jackson said. “Florida isn’t familiar with the name water ice because they’re used to shaved ice or snow cones. Water ice is between a slushy and Italian ice. However, water ice is creamier and has a different consistency, and the different flavors make it simply scrumptious. So, I decided to look into doing my own business.”

Although Jackson was confident her community would love this unique treat, she knew she would need some guidance in starting the business. “The initial problem I had was to refresh my knowledge in writing a business plan and the different facets of doing business finances. So, I reached out to the Florida SBDC at USF,” Jackson said. “From there, I was introduced to my consultant Simplice Essou.”

Jackson is grateful to have seen substantial growth within various areas of Auntie PJ’s Philadelphia Water Ice, since being introduced to her consultant.

“My business has grown with the knowledge and advice received from Florida SBDC at USF,” she said. “I remember Simplice saying how important social media and marketing will be beneficial for my business and gave great suggestions in ways of making it happen. One of the important things he reminded me of was the time when it would be necessary to make price adjustments for my product. He gave me key points about when and how the water ice prices should be adjusted while keeping in mind that you will always have business expenses to consider.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jackson experienced troubling times for her business and is glad to have had the financial guidance of the Florida SBDC at USF to help her through. “COVID-19 affected my business in ways of me not getting business contracts with corporations,” she said. “Because some corporations were/are still working on a hybrid schedule with their employees, they’ve stopped the food and dessert trucks from coming to their sites. That’s had a heavy impact financially on my business.”

Although COVID-19 slowed her progress initially, Jackson looks forward to continuing the relationship with Essou and the Florida SBDC at USF when she starts expanding her business. “The Florida SBDC at USF has done a lot for me from the business plan to the financial projections; just everything you need to know about a business, to starting up a business,” she said. “In the future, I will continue with the Florida SBDC at USF to see how to grow my business even more, branch out, and have more than one food truck in Florida. My vision is to share Philadelphia water ice throughout the state of Florida and be able to hire people and extend my mobile business.”

“My consultant Simplice Essou has excellent customer service and communication skills and is very patient and knowledgeable. I love that he listens to you and wants to hear your point of view,” she said. “It makes a significant difference when your consultant can listen and see your vision with you and will challenge your point of view to generate the best results possible.”

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“My business has grown with the knowledge and advice received from Florida SBDC at USF."”

Priscilla Jackson, Owner — Auntie PJ’s Philadelphia Water Ice