There are some things in life that makes us feel just so good! Things like jumping in bed after an exhausting day, feeling the sun on your face during a cold winter, or getting an ice cream on a hot summer day… For us, the latter fulfills our feelings the most. Isn’t ice cream the cure for everything? After all, it is cheaper than therapy!
After being criticized for an architectural model that looked like a layered cake, Natasha Case thought to herself “Well, why is that bad!?”. Natasha had the passion for both food and architecture inside of her; she just didn’t know how to put the two together. Food was something she took seriously, as she grew up in a house where having ice cream after dinner was a ritual. So it made sense she evolved her idea into what is now known as “farchitecture” . In 2009, while working at Disney Imagineering, Coolhaus was born “out of the recession to bring awareness to architecture by using something nostalgic and comforting as ice-cream”. She started bringing ice cream sandwiches named after architects like “Mies Vanilla Rohe” and “Frank Behry” to relieve some tension in the office. And after seeing its success, Coolhaus was born from “a triple pun on the name of architect Rem Koolhaas, the Bauhaus movement and the idea that an ice cream sandwich is like a tiny, cold house”.
Lucky for her, Natasha was introduced at that time to her current business and life partner, Freya Estreller. Freya was in real estate, but also shared the interest in food. After many conversations and finally deciding to take their business to the next level, Coolhaus got its first real job as a food truck vendor at the Coachella Music Festival. Everything was running smoothly – checked the boxes with giant freezers and enough inventory to sell. But as every startup owner knows, challenges can come up pretty quickly! With as little as $2,700, you can imagine what type of ice cream truck they were able to buy on Craigslist. “We are pretty sure the previous owners were selling drugs out of it. It was a total POS! It didn’t even come with an engine”, said Natasha. So no money, no engine. How DID they manage to get to Coachella? Well, hats down to the creative minds of these two ladies for buying a AAA premier membership to receive a free 200-mile tow all the way to Coachella! Now THAT is some entrepreneurial thinking. And so thanks to their Coachella’s success, an audience was building up in L.A. After expanding their food trucks all the way to New York, Culver City and Pasadena, Coolhaus made its debut in the wholesale industry. They are now also available in more than 6,000 stores like Whole Foods and Safeway and are the biggest women founder and led company, “uniquely taking over the novelty section whereas most of our competitors are playing in the pint space”.
But it took more than free toll rides and social media to get Coolhaus where it is today. “In the beginning we experienced more age-based bias, where people did not take us seriously. This attitude made those individuals less liable to risk-taking which is necessary to make anything big happen. And by being millennials, we recognized what other millennials actually wanted which gave us a level of authenticity”. Natasha also talked how as a gay woman, it has definitely been a different journey but a positive one.
During the five-year mark, Natasha and Freya worked on the business, not in it. After their tenth year, Coolhaus finally settled as a household brand. And as everyone knows, hard work pays off eventually. As of today, Natasha has done brand partnerships with MeUndies, Bustle, Lexus, and K-Swiss among others. She has been featured as well in media outlets like Cosmo, Bon Appetit, Vice, NPR, Food52, and TV shows like Good Morning America, The list goes on and on…
Without her amazing team, she says, Coolhaus would never be be what it is today. “I value the culture, energy and passion they bring to the company. The fact that they show up every day and dedicate so much of their time helping make this dream a reality is incredibly meaningful. Also thanks to them, I’ve been able to take a step back and focus on my family”.
Natasha and Freya hope that Coolhaus will be the household brand of millennials. “There is an incredible opportunity for us to do that as a culture of women leaders – so to lead and change by example.. that alone is a revolution. To be a powerhouse of women who are behind that brand, who created and are running its vision, that is our true aspiration” – Natasha Case.
Takeaways? Never settle for anything, not even one scoop!
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