Black-Owned Business Spotlight: W.O.W Ice
Owners Alex and Patience Murray create a local business looking to bring joy to the community and beyond.
Words of Alex Murray
Tell us a little about how W.O.W Ice came to life.
W.O.W Ice is more than a frozen treat company—it's an extension of my sister's legacy. On June 12, 2016, the world lost a great leader and student-athlete, Akyra Murray. When everyone else moved on with their lives, I couldn’t. Akyra was more than a student-athlete to me—she was my little sister, my best friend, and the only person who believed in me when no one else did. When I found out she’d been killed in the Pulse Nightclub shooting, I was devastated. We were supposed to be celebrating her high school graduation, and her basketball scholarship to Mercyhurst University. Instead, my family and I were forced to mourn her.
I refuse to let her memory die, and I will celebrate her legacy for as long as I live. And that’s where W.O.W Ice comes in: Akyra's soul lives on in every aspect of company, from its bright and cheerful branding, to the joy our customers get from our frozen treats. Believe it or not, the idea for W.O.W Ice came from a dream, the concept and atmosphere of the brand formed from a picture in my mind. I soon realized that W.O.W Ice was destined to be a staple in every community, bringing that “WOW factor” of deliciousness, love, and joy to everyone who’s lucky enough to try it.
What is something you’re most proud of with your small business?
We’re fortunate to have the ability and divine responsibility to bring joy to our customers every day. Here at W.O.W Ice, we like to call ourselves “love ambassadors” who genuinely want to make each person we meet smile. Naturally, that kind of spirit inspires our customers to think about their own purpose, and how they can do their part in bringing joy to others. We make an impact everywhere we go, and that's always the goal.
We hear there was an amazing proposal on court at one of our HEAT games! Tell us about that experience and how long you’ve been HEAT fans.
I’ve been a fan of Miami HEAT basketball since early the 2000s. I remember the days when they had the late, great Rasual Butler, may he rest in peace. I remember the days when Alonzo Mourning and Caron Butler were burning up the courts before the HEAT drafted Dwyane Wade in 2003. But nothing compares to the 2006 lineup when Shaq, a.k.a. “The Diesel,” stood as tall as a tower and when Gary “The Glove” Payton stole more passes than we could count. I fell in love with the team.
Then came the moment to propose to my wife, Patience, on March 27th—the day after her birthday. It was during one of the most highly anticipated games of Dwyane Wade’s final season. I planned the proposal three months in advance to make sure it would be a day she remembered for the rest of her beautiful life. With the help of the HEAT’s Crystal Rogers, I was able to get down on one knee with eight minutes and 26 seconds left in the first quarter. The HEAT was up by three points and the Arena was packed beyond capacity. It was perfect! When Crystal texted me that it was time, we headed downstairs from our seats to the courtside seats. It was a movie moment, the crowd chattering excitedly. And Patience was so confused. We had actually tricked her into thinking we’d been picked as the lucky Kia Seat Upgrade winners—she thought we’d won a free car! And then – as Burnie kept her distracted – I got down one knee behind her. The HEAT Dancers signaled for her to turn around, and there I was, looking up at her with the most beautiful ring I could find. She was speechless and started crying, so I started waving my hand in the air to hype up the crowd. Thousands of HEAT fans and celebrities immediately erupted, cheering on my wife to say “YES!”. How dope is that?!
As a Black business owner, what advice would you offer to others looking to create a successful business?
As a young Black business owner, with minimal support, expect challenges to arise along the way and prepare in advance. If you don’t truly LOVE your business, those challenges are only going to make you give up and quit, so it’s crucial to have a meaningful “why” as the foundation of your business—a constant reminder that your business is bigger than you. Create your brand with love so that you can universally connect with everyone, and inspire a new generation of young Black entrepreneuers to start their own businesses. That way, the positive cycle only continues.
What is your goal for W.O.W Ice over the next year?
Our main goal at W.O.W Ice is to connect and share our story with as many people as possible. We aren’t focused solely on sales—it’s about building a legacy that will outlive us. And, of course, it’s about making sure every that every generation after us never forgets the name, Akyra Murray.
From a business perspective, we want to build a variety of genuine relationships with diverse partners to help expand the W.O.W Ice brand and immerse it within a range of atmospheres. One of our biggest goals is to rewrite our history in Orlando, the city where my sister’s life was taken. That’s where I want to plant our flag of love, and where I want our brick-and-mortar location to be. I plan on installing ceiling portrait to honor the lives of the 49 angels who lost their lives at Pulse Nightclub as well. That way, whenever their family members enter, they can look up and see their smiling angel, and that’s sort of the larger message: we should all take more time to look up. Sometimes, life is so painful that we hang our heads and miss the beauty above us. We plan to take the pain of the city, and pour it into purpose, creating colorful, cheerful, deliciously tasteful, utterly inspiring, and undeniably “WOW-tastic” experience.
Lastly, we want to create an entrepreneurial program for minority youth to resell our product around the city. I got the idea from Alex’s Lemonade Stand – now a foundation for cancer research – and the impact it had on me and other young kids in my community. The kids I knew who worked their lemonade stands were self-reliant, resilient and hardworking individuals. I hope to create a similar business learning experience for kids so they too can feel empowered and encouraged to build the life they want.