You may not be familiar with the name Natasha Case, but you will most definitely be familiar with the name / brand / empire that is: Coolhaus. Well, now it’s time to put the pieces of the puzzle together and get familiar with a total superstar and all-round-legend-of-a-lady who will automatically become your new #girlboss inspo… Natasha Case: the CEO and co-founder of what can only be described as THE coolest freaking ice cream brand on the planet. Actually, that’s a little restrictive, most definitely the coolest freaking ice cream brand in the Universe (those ice cream aficionados on Mars don’t know what they’re missing out on!). Natasha built Coolhaus from scratch (read: nothing but an idea) with her co-founder, and now wife, Freya Estreller and they have recently become three when THE most adorable little guy, Remy, arrived earlier this year.
One of my all-time-favorite quotes is:
‘You can always tell who the strong women are: they’re the ones building each other up rather than tearing one another down.’
Well, this could not be a more adequate depiction of Natasha. And, if we’re measuring it via this quote it means she has the strength of Wonder Woman. You can ALWAYS tell, you can’t fake authenticity and being genuinely kind, supportive and willing to help others because you want to, not because you feel you have to. And that, is Natasha in a nutshell. Natasha is inspiration plus (and then plus plus plus some more). Natasha is just the loveliest, she is so sweet, so personable and so gracious with her time. Natasha is really kind-hearted and encouraging, from our first interaction she was so lovely and supportive of For, She Is You and its mission. It’s no wonder she is the #girlboss of the dessert industry – she is literally the sweetest and is so authentic in actively wanting to inspire and empower other women. (I can attest to this – mission accomplished). Oh, and if that doesn’t make her inspiring enough on its own, there’s just the small (insert dry humor here…it actually couldn’t be any more the polar opposite of small) fact that she created an outrageously successful and booming business from scratch… which all began with her ingenious idea, was born from her courage to take a risk and grew from her hard work, creativity and tenacity. Natasha has also been named on the Forbes 30 under 30 list (Could she be anymore of an inspiration to look up to!). Let me bring you up to speed on why Natasha is one reallyyy inspiring person and give you the cliff notes of the Coolhaus story…
Coolhaus is an architecturally inspired, gourmet, premium, artisanal ice cream company with trucks, stores and a wholesale retail distribution model. It all began as a hipster ice cream truck: one truck, one dream. But, the story behind Coolhaus is as cool as the brand itself. Natasha, who has always had a keen interest in food, was studying architecture at UCLA when she had a lightbulb moment to fuse her passions and began to explore the relationship between Food + Architecture: Farchitecture. She went on to work at Disney (after hounding them and following up at least 15 times – see, proof is in the pudding, if you want something bad enough you can make it happen) and began experimenting and bringing in her ice cream sandwich creations – named after famous architects – for her co-workers. After the recession hit and redundancies were in the works, Natasha was laid off (note: evidence that sometimes life has a different plan for you and when. you think you’re being steered off course, you are actually being propelled at exceptional speeds in an even better direction) and went full steam ahead with Coolhaus. She met Freya, they clicked instantly. She took ice cream sandwiches to their first date (I love this!!), from there they workshopped the idea and decided that Coachella was the place to launch. After buying an old, undriveable postal truck off Craigslist and decking it out, they had to get it to the desert on the cheap as they couldn’t afford a new engine, so they signed up for a AAA membership which allows you one free 200 mile tow, got it towed to Coachella (Total genius right – I think this is my favorite part of the entire story…Savviness, thinking outside the box and freaking girl power all-in-one!! How inspired are you right now!!!) and completely sold out at the festival … the next day, a publication featured a tiny write up on the brand (one paragraph to be precise), it went viral and the rest, my friends, is history. Anddddd, in addition to the amazing story behind the brand, the story behind the name is equally as creative. Natasha and Freya came up with Coolhaus as an homage to, and play on words with, Bahaus – a design movement, Rem Koolhaas – a famous Dutch architect and the fact that an ice cream sandwich is basically a “cool house”. I also think it is fitting because everything about Natasha is effortlessly cool.
Alas, now, a multi-million dollar cult brand, it boasts impressive flavors with the best names like Louis Ba-Kahn, Aunt Gladys’ Fruit Cake, Whiskey Lucky Charms, Street Cart Churro, Mintimalism, Campfire Smore’s, Cara-Mia Lehrer… and the list goes on, it’s easy to see how the brand is just outright freaking cool (pun intended) on every level. They’re always ahead of the game with innovation and originality when it comes to new flavors and what is going to be trending (they were first to market with the candied bacon trend). And, it literally all began with the (not-so-humble) ice cream sandwich and now their product range extends to quite literally the coolest (again, pun intended) tubs and bars in addition to the sammies. Everyone remembers their first, and my first Coolhaus was no exception. I can still remember who introduced me: my BFF Luke who said quote, unquote… these are the best, how have you never tried one before, you will lose your shit, the time: a Friday night, the occasion date night at the movies with my hubby and previously mentioned BFF, the place: Sunset 5 cinema, the flavor: the Peter Cook-ies – double chocolate chip cookie with cream and cookies ice cream (what can I say, clearly I’m a sucker for cookies), my first impression: wow, wow, wowwwwww. I can never eat another brand of ice cream again, and also, how aggressive is it to go to the candy bar and get another?
I love the story, I love the brand and I love how inspiring Natasha and Coolhaus are. A woman and brand that constantly pushes the envelope, forecasts trends and is ahead of the game when it comes to innovation. They pride themselves on sustainability and all their products are all natural, organic where possible and only made from premium, fresh and local ingredients. Oh, did I mention that the Coolhaus ice cream truck Sammies wrappers are sustainable and completely EDIBLE!! A booming company with a conscious, you couldn’t possibly be more inspired by a brand. And I mean, can we just talk for a second about a dream place to work – the culture of the company sounds next-level amazing, where team work is essential, hard work is rewarded and the boss is passionate, creative and part of the team. In addition to that, I just love that in the beginning, so many nay-sayers would’ve thought the idea was crazy, that the girls were too young to ‘know anything’ and that it would never take off….. and then look where they are now. THIS is the stuff that lights me up, seriously. I could talk about it and chew your ear off all day but this is what it’s all about. ANYTHING. IS. POSSIBLE.
I am excited to continue to watch Natasha create and can’t wait to see what the future holds for her and the Coolhaus brand as I know it will continue to grow, innovate and create. And I can’t wait to see her grace the cover of Forbes in what will probably be the not-too-distant future. She’s seriously amazing.
I tried to put together some notes as a summary of what you will take away from Natasha’s interview but without giving it all away, it’s a tough ask – because I literally want to include it all. Oh. My. Gosh – what won’t you learn from this interview?! I am so excited for you to read Natasha’s answers because you will literally find so much to take away. Also, guys, you will also most likely walk away with a craving for a Coolhaus ice cream sammie… or 5. So I think it’s best to just go get one now (or 5 – I won’t tell, I have been known to polish off a whole tub in one sitting) and enjoy every sweet morsel that touches your tastebuds while you’re reading this interview. Because: A) Multitasking and B) this is a PSA to ensure you are giving your full concentration and getting all the goodness available from this interview rather than just thinking
ice cream, ice cream, ice creammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….
I honestly can’t thank Natasha enough for being her beautiful, inspiring self and for generously giving up her time for this interview, it filled me up, had me buzzing with inspiration and hanging off every word. She is truly amazing. She is a game changer. You will be empowered after reading this. Whether it’s your side hustle, your full time hustle or your dreams that are still in the pipeline, it’s undeniable that this incredible lady will have you inspired to leap into life, full throttle – chase your dreams and follow your heart. Natasha is living proof that sometimes you just have to drown out the noise of ‘following a linear path’, break the mold, trust your gut and keep going, keep growing and learn along the way. You will realize that sometimes, naivety and ‘not knowing’ is actually your friend, you will feel encouraged to be tough, learn from your mistakes and step up to the plate. You will feel supported and know that it’s okay to fall down 20 times, just keep getting back up because that 21st time could be a game changer – hard work and persistence will be rewarded. You will be empowered by her attitude, her kindness, her beautiful give-back attitude and the fact that she is ALLLL about women supporting women…. You will understand that failure truly is just par for the course, and that you should take action rather than striving for perfection (something the A-type in me needs to learn to be better at) and she will most definitely inspire you to take risks, dream big and bet on yourself. This incredible lady deserves all the accolades, all the success and all the happiness in the world. She truly is remarkable and we need more women like her in this world, that is something I know for sure. I love that Natasha describes herself as confident, it’s a trait I find exceptionally inspiring and admirable, because if you’re not confident in you and don’t back yourself, no one else is going to do it for you. After reading Natasha’s interview that is something that most definitely stuck with me and something I plan on working on.
Ultimately though, Natasha is a PRIME example that YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT!!! Dream big. Think outside the box. Write your own story. Be your own boss. Create your dream life. You heard Natasha – think up your wildest, most imaginative dreams of what you want to do and how you want to spend your one precious life and know that it is all within the realm of possibility, but also know, that it’s all up to you. You. Just. Have. To. Do. It. The sky is the limit, but it all starts with you – no excuses. If you want something bad enough and if you inject hard work and genuine passion, you can make it happen. Natasha is living proof of this and an incredible example of following your vision, thinking outside the box and never ever taking no for an answer. As you’re about to find out, this wonderfully insightful, sweet, kind, creative, trail blazing woman is quite incredible. She’s so real, insightful, practical and wise and is totally nailing it as a boss, wife, mama and friend. Natasha is living proof that you can dream big and have it all… For, She Is You.
NATASHA CASE // CEO & CO-FOUNDER, COOLHAUS
One word you would use to describe yourself?
What would you tell your younger self?
Think of the most fantastical whimsical thing you can do (like making ice cream and being creative). It’s entirely possible to spend your days doing it as an adult.
The single best piece of advice you have ever received and how has it shaped you?
You can walk through a wall when you don’t know it’s there. It really made me realize that a little bit of not knowing can actually be a huge advantage because it allows you to take risks that you would otherwise overanalyze. Being smart about taking risks ultimately makes you more confident.
‘We have to lead by example and stop apologizing for putting ourselves first sometimes.’
What characteristics / values do you admire in the women that you surround yourself with?
I admire and surround myself with beings who have big visions and ambition and are unapologetic about it. People who are not afraid to break boundaries and take risks, a characteristic more women in general need to have. I surround myself with people who are alway up for an adventure and are willing to try something new (from food to fitness).
Why is it important to be kinder to ourselves and how do you combat negative self talk and self doubt?
We are our own worst enemy. I think people get so concerned with being accepted that they stop thinking about themselves because they are so wrapped up in everyone else. It’s okay to have a me moment. It’s okay to have an ego and to take care of that ego. You have to factor yourself into the vision. I also think that if you’re in a leadership role, you have to talk to those around you and inspire them to do the same. We have to lead by example and stop apologizing for putting ourselves first sometimes. Personally, physical activity really helps me clear my mind and combat self doubt.
‘When you consider the worst case scenarios, they are really never as bad as you build them up to be in your head.’
Something you don’t tell yourself enough?
To celebrate the wins. As entrepreneurs, we are always on to the next thing but it is okay to see and celebrate the little milestones along the way.
Your all-time-hands-down-favorite self love ritual?
So many! Soothe couples massages with HBO on on the background, golfing in a beautiful place, or just drinking coffee in the courtyard in the morning with my wife and son.
Your favorite feel good movie OF.ALL.TIME…
In your opinion, what is true strength of character?
True strength of character is about setting a personal goal and knowing that you truly lived up to everything you can do. Did you make the goal that you were put on this Earth to make? You don’t need the approval of others to validate yourself or the goal. If you succeed and achieve the goal, who will you see when you look around?
‘You can walk through a wall when you don’t know it’s there.’
Why do you believe in kindness?
We as people are so connected, so when you put kindness out to one person, that kindness ripples. Good energy will eventually come back even if it is not automatic. When you make your goal kindness it makes you see things from other peoples perspective so you are never really alone.
Have you ever been shown an act of kindness you will never forget?
When my son was born we received overwhelming love and support. I was never so aware of the love that surrounded us. It was such an affirmation. I’m so honored that Remy has that as his example of the world.
In your opinion, how can we cultivate more kindness (as a whole) on a day-to-day basis?
As I said, we need to remember to think of each other and approach people from kindness. Figure out what you have to give and do it.
How do you deal with stress, anxiety or overwhelm?
I usually turn to working out or really any physical activity – tennis, golf, etc. It just makes me happy and helps me decompress. As an entrepreneur, I am always thinking of the next thing I have to do or work on so it’s nice to clear my head and savor the little moments.
‘If we work together to build each other up instead of tearing each other down we can accomplish much more and may even teach the men something along the way!’
Your thoughts on fear?
Fear is very abstract. If you really take the time to consider what you actually fear and put in concrete details, the fear tends to dissolve. I think it’s really connected to risk too. When you consider the worst case scenarios, they are really never as bad as you build them up to be in your head.
Can you share any REAL advice on believing in yourself and following your dreams?
Definitely embrace the skills you have. There is always a way to apply the certain type of knowledge you have to something else. That being said, collaborate! Know what you don’t know and connect with people who can fill in those gaps. It takes a village to do anything well and the more you surround yourself with great voices the more you use the more you learn. Its about smartly delegating. Lastly, be transparent. Share revenue and goals with those around you so you are all working toward the same goal.
Have you experienced challenges, setbacks or failures and what have they taught you?
Of course. I think the setbacks along the way have really aught me that no set back or failure is that if you come back learning from it. You need to fail fast and evolve quickly to be a good entrepreneur.
From your experience in creating and building a (really freaking amazing!) brand, do you have any wisdom to impart on networking and ‘putting yourself out there’?
You already have your network, now leverage it. Most of networking is done organically. You will meet people in real life and in doing business so don’t stress. I think people get a little distracted and caught up in the networking game. By all means, go to networking events but go to the right networking events. Oh, and don’t drink the free wine unless you like buttery Chardonnay.
‘We as people are so connected, so when you put kindness out to one person, that kindness ripples. ‘
Entrepreneurship: what’s the savviest piece of business advice you can share?
You can walk through a wall when you don’t know it’s there.
Life is too short to tolerate…
pettiness and bad kimonos
Why is it integral for girls and women to celebrate, empower and support one another rather than tear one another down?
As women, we are over half the population. We have a lot to gain from each other. If we work together to build each other up instead of tearing each other down we can accomplish much more and may even teach the men something along the way!