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 totally melted,” Case shared with Jill Martin on the 3rd Hour of TODAY Tuesday. “So she was like, ‘You obviously need help.'”
From there, a sweet partnership was born. In 2009, Case and Estreller co-founded Coolhaus, a frozen dessert company that specializes in premium and novelty ice cream pints and sandwiches.
The women hit it off romantically, too, and today, they are married with two children.
When they were first creating Coolhaus, Case says they wanted to “reinvent the ice (cream) truck for our generation.”
“I think as millennials, as women, as gay women, Freya as a woman of color … there were no stories there that were like, ‘Oh, that’s what feels authentic to us,'” Case said. “So we thought, ‘Why not create the brand that we want to buy?”
To launch their brand, they bought 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 that the two of us can think of?’ Coachella Music Festival,” Case said. “But how are we gonna get a truck with no engine to the desert? Well, we figured out that if we (joined) AAA Platinum, we got one free 200-mile tow. So the morning of Coachella, they towed us to the desert, and the legend was born.”
From these scrappy beginnings, the business grew exponentially. As word spread about their unique flavors, which included several dairy-free options, they began catering and introducing their products to grocery stores.
“We’re selling ice cream, we’re bringing people joy, so it was this also (a) really romantic way to, like, become so close like driving an ice cream truck into the sunset,” Case said.
As the business grew, however, it put some strain on their relationship, and Estreller ended up leaving 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 as strong as ever.
“She’s still my mentor and toughest critic and biggest champion,” Case said.
Today, Coolhaus ice cream is carried by thousands of retailers worldwide and works with delivery partners including Whole Foods, Instacart and Amazon Fresh.
Their sweet treats, they say, are becoming better for the planet, with the company working toward becoming 100% dairy-free.
Coolhaus has also partnered with Black Girl Ventures, donating all proceeds of their Carrot “Currency” Cake to creating a grant for female business owners of color.
They also created a special flavor, EnjoyMINT For All, to celebrate LGBTQ+ potential and pride.
“I never really thought about 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.”