Natasha Case Enhances People’s Eating Experiences With Design
Natasha Case founded Coolhaus in 2009 with Freya Estreller after working in architecture at Walt Disney Imagineering. The company has become one of the leading innovative small dessert businesses, growing significantly to include 4 trucks and 2 storefronts in LA, 2 trucks and one cart in NYC, and 4 trucks in Dallas, Texas.
Moreover, consumers can now find Coolhaus’ pre-packaged ice cream sandwiches, hand-dipped bars, and hand-packed pints in 6,000+ gourmet grocery stores nationally.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Freya and I started baking cookies, making ice cream, and combining them into “cool houses” in 2008. With mutual backgrounds in design and real estate, we began naming our ice cream sandwiches after architects and architectural movements that inspired us. We were inspired to take our newfound passion (dubbed “Farchitecture,” or Food + Architecture) to our hometown streets in Los Angeles.
The inspiration for the brand initially came when I was exploring “Farchitecture” in her graduate architecture program. The concept originated with the thought that design could enhance one’s eating experience, and by the same token that food could bring awareness to the design field, especially during the recession. After much experimenting, it became obvious that ice cream sandwiches were the perfect way to further explore this relationship.
Cookies, ice cream, and their combinations presented endless possibilities to reconstruct flavor profiles, and using pun-y names like the “Frank Berry” (Snickerdoodle cookies + Strawberry ice cream) started making knowledge about architecture and design fun and accessible among consumers. In fact, the name of the company (which is the first project under the Farchitecture umbrella) is a triple entendre:
- Bauhaus, an influential modernist design movement of the 1920’s and 30’s.
- Rem Koolhaas, a famous Dutch architect and theorist.
- “Cool house,” or what you’re eating when you bite into an ice cream sandwich…right?
Tell us about your business.
Coolhaus loves all types of food and works to push the boundaries of traditional dessert by creating unique, sweet-meets-savory combinations you can’t find anywhere else. Our adventurous spirit has led us to create flavors—like Milkshake & Fries, Balsamic Fig & Mascarpone, and Street Cart Churro Dough—that consistently shake up the freezer aisle.
Equally important is commitment to quality. All Coolhaus ice cream is made at a 20% overrun, making it one of the creamiest, most delicious ice creams on the market. Each treat is handcrafted with hormone-free, real California milk, cage free eggs, fair-trade chocolate, and the freshest, most unique ingredients available, meaning some flavors and ingredients are seasonal to promote peak flavor and responsible sourcing.
Coolhaus is also a certified woman-owned business.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Coolhaus constantly offers new promos to their customers, so follow us on Instagram (@Coolhaus) for up-to-the-minute promotions.
- Certified Women-Owned
- “Ice cream empire for the millennial market” – Inc.
- LinkedIn Under 35, 2015 – Food & Leisure
- Forbes 30 Under 30, 2013 – Food & Beverage
- Elevate Exponential 20 Under 40
- Zagat 30 Under 30, 2012 – NYC
Where is your business based?
Culver City, CA.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
We actually launched the company from a barely drivable postal van at the Coachella Music Festival to an audience of 100,000. Using a free tow we’d gotten by being new AAA members, we headed out to the music festival to make our debut to the world.
Coolhaus quickly built a loyal following over the festival weekend and returned to LA to an abundance of viral press, a rapidly building social media following, and an eager foodie audience.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
The brand was born as social and digital media started really taking off, so in addition to word of mouth, those avenues really helped put us on the map.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
One of my biggest challenges was having my loved ones and those around me not support my decisions and entrepreneurial spirit. My parents were not thrilled to see their daughter ditch architecture. At first they had an intervention with me, because it was a risk and wasn’t what I had studied in school. I knew, still, it was right to follow my instinct.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Not having any doubt about what you decide to do. I told her parents I’d be moving forward, and eventually my mom and dad did come around and have been very supportive ever since.
When skeptics ask if you are sure about something, you’ve got to tell them “Yes” and move right along!
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Eating Coolhaus ice cream, of course!
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
We are the only National certified women-owned company in the space.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Keep going. Keep trying. Keep learning. Keep growing. Failure and disappointment are necessary steps on the path to happiness and success.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Walk through a wall when you don’t see its there.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
One of my all-time favorites is Boomerang! I don’t know where I would be with following up and closing deals without Boomerang. I feel like I will never miss anything! I can mark it to send reminders if responses I’m waiting for don’t happen.
I can schedule follow-ups in advance; and I can ping emails that are not urgent to come back to my inbox whenever desired. It’s also good to use for east-coast correspondence, where I want an email to be received at a more strategic time if I’m getting to it late in the day Pacific time.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
My biggest goal is to spread awareness about other women-owned brands.
I recently launched a campaign on Instagram, #iBuyWomenOwned, to bring awareness to the cause.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Getting ready for Summer, our products fly off the shelves year-round, but Summer really puts a fire under us!
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.