It all started with a melted ice cream sandwich.
Natasha Case had recently started making frozen desserts from scratch, and she brought one of her creations on her first date with Freya Estreller — but things didn’t go exactly as planned.
“(Freya) said, ‘What’s the deal with these ice cream sandwiches?’ Because I brought one on the first date but it completely melted,” Case shared with Jill Martin during the 3rd hour of TODAY on Tuesday. “So she was like, ‘You obviously need help.'”
From there, a sweet complicity was born. In 2009, Case and Estreller co-founded Coolhaus, a frozen dessert company specializing in premium and novelty pints of ice cream and sandwiches.
The women also hit it off romantically and today they are married with two children.
When they first created Coolhaus, Case said they wanted to “reinvent the ice cream (cream) truck for our generation”.
“I think as millennials, as women, as queer women, Freya as a woman of color…there weren’t stories out there that were like, ‘Oh, that’s which feels genuine to us,'” Case said. “So we thought, ‘Why not create the brand that we want to buy?'”
To launch their brand, they purchased an ice cream truck for $2,700 and found a creative way to reach their target demographic.
“We thought, ‘OK, what’s the biggest event we can both think of?’ Coachella Music Festival,” Case said. “But how are we going to get a truck without an engine in the desert? Well, we figured out that if we (joined) AAA Platinum, we’d get a free 200 mile tow. So on Coachella morning, they towed us up in the desert, and the legend was born.
Since those scrappy beginnings, the company has grown exponentially. As word spread about their unique flavors, which included several dairy-free options, they began serving and introducing their products to grocery stores.
“We sell ice cream, we bring joy to people, so it was also (a) really romantic way to get so close like driving an ice cream truck at sunset,” Case said.
However, as the company grew, it strained their relationship and Estreller eventually left the company.
“She wrote to our angel investors, like, ‘I can’t work for or with Natasha,'” Case recalled. “And I just knew that was the end.”
However, the women stayed together and their love is stronger than ever.
“She’s still my mentor, my toughest critic, and my biggest champion,” Case said.
Today, Coolhaus ice cream is offered by thousands of retailers worldwide and works with delivery partners such as Whole Foods, Instacart and Amazon Fresh.
Their treats, they say, are getting better for the planet as the company strives to become 100% dairy-free.
Coolhaus has also partnered with Black Girl Ventures, donating all proceeds from their “Mint” carrot cake to create a grant for women business owners of color.
They also created a special flavor, EnjoyMINT For All, to celebrate LGBTQ+ empowerment and pride.
“I never really thought of Coolhaus as just ice cream,” Case said. “It can be a canvas for…what we can stand for to help make the world a better place.”