How this growing local ice cream business is fuelled by passion not profit
Sinenhlanhla Ndlela is the bubbly, fun-loving and ambitious woman behind SA's most sought after vegan ice cream brand, Yococo. I got to sample a scoop of the delicious dairy-free goodness at Food XX and was blown away not only by how good it tasted, but how Sinenhlanhla ('Sine' for short) is building a tiny empire out of her pure love for the creamy treat.
Sine, like many children, grew up with a love for ice cream. And after deciding to leave her job in TV production, she pursued a life of making and selling (vegan) ice cream with zero experience.
"I decided I was going to make yoghurt first because I thought ice cream was too ambitious and it was going to be too hard to make. But then I realised I was downplaying myself so I researched how to make ice cream. I didn't know anything about making ice cream. I only knew how I wanted it to taste."
Fast-forward three years and Sine is a thriving entrepreneur struggling to keep up with orders. Her ice cream flavours are contemporary and inspired. Think granadilla chocolate and hibiscus strawberry. Then there are the classics like coffee and plain chocolate. All made without eggs or dairy.
A few years ago Sine went through a deeply spiritual journey which has had a significant effect on her business. "Everything we do and everything we eat means something and I wanted to show that you're not just eating ice cream for the sake of it. It's a form of self-love and self-care."
Even though she's never owned a business before or knew nothing about the product she wanted it to sell, Sine didn't let anything stand in her way of success. In fact, the idea of chasing sales wasn't even at the top of her priority list.
"I translated it differently in my mind. It wasn't about making money. I told myself I was going to make something for people to consume. Money is important, but I am so focused on creating and having people love the ice cream, and through that, the sales come naturally. Money can be intimidating and if you're chasing it, it can be stressful and then it sometimes means you're not focused on the actual product. "
Plans for the future? Sine hopes to own her own farm one day where she is able to plant and harvest all the fruits for her ice cream on her own steam. We have no doubt she'll realise that dream soon.
Find Yococo at the following establishments:
Unwrapped in Braamfontein, Johannesburg
Salvation Deli in Milpark, Johannesburg
Farm Table - 62 6th Street, Linden, Johannesburg
Healthy Store - Shop 9 Umhlanga Centre (Buxtons), 189 Ridge Road, Umhlanga Rocks, Durban