Greg Green’s earliest snowball memories take him back home to Mississippi, where he said there was a stand serving the icy treat on every corner.
“I always relate it to being with family and friends when we were out and about,” Green said. “You know it’s summertime when you have a snowball.”
So when a busy work schedule, a family illness, and his wife’s deployment to Afghanistan took a toll, the Accokeek resident said he decided to drop everything and open a stand of his own, IceGreen Snowballs. Green said the decision has helped make his family closer.
“They say most businesses start out of necessity,” Green said. “It was a necessity for me to have a snowball.”
Until February, Green, 39, was a financial manager at the Department of the Navy, a job he said made it difficult for him to see his sons, Darius, 14, and Jeremiah, 10, for more than two hours a day.
“I didn’t realize how disconnected I was from my kids,” Green said. “I was out of touch because I was literally away from my kids.”
Additionally, the family helped care for Green’s mother, who lived with them for six months to have chemotherapy treatments for stage IV breast cancer. Green said he worked 12-hour days to compensate for taking his mother on her visits to Georgetown University Hospital.
“She would tell me every morning, ‘You get up so early, before the sun comes up. You get home when it’s dark. You’re working too hard,” Green said. “She was telling me I was talented and she inspired me to step out on faith to start my business.”
In August his mother died and months later Green’s wife, Mimi, 38, a member of the U.S. Air Force, left home for a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Green said he could not sustain himself emotionally and decided it was time to make a transition. Mimi Green said she was nervous when her husband started to talk about leaving his job to open a snowball stand, but relaxed as she heard the calmness in his voice.
“I wanted him to be happy more than anything in the world. I can only imagine what he was going through after losing his mother and not having his spouse to talk to at night,” Mimi Green said. “When he brought this up, I heard the change in his voice. I heard happiness.”
Mimi Green found a discounted truck and trailer in Pittsburgh when she returned from Afghanistan and the couple started their snowball business in April. The Greens serve 22 flavors, including Island Breeze, Mississippi Margarita and Wedding Cake, at farmers markets and community events.
Darius and Jeremiah work with their father during the week and the family gathers on Sundays for a “lessons learned” meeting to discuss accomplishments and improvements.
Darrell Carpenter, 47, has been the Greens’ neighbor for more than five years and said the family is more relaxed and in tune with each other since they opened the snowball stand.
“You see and read about things like that, but to watch my neighbor go through that inspired me and told me, ‘You can do it, too,’” Carpenter said.
The Greens agree that the business has never been about making money, but rather spending time with each other.
“It truly has unified our family. We don’t know where it will take us, but we’re excited,” Greg Green said.