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From food trucks to nationwide ice cream empire

What’s the common ground between architecture and dessert? Ask Natasha Case, the CEO and Co-Founder of Coolhaus, and she’ll tell you: ice cream sandwiches.

Like so many of our customers, Natasha started Coolhaus as a passion project. As an architecture student in college, she never imagined herself entering the food industry. “I fell into it, kind of on accident, because I had a professor in college who critiqued an architectural model of mine saying it looked like a layer cake—I thought, ‘well, why is that bad?’” (hint: it’s not).

Natasha realized that she could use food to make architecture more fun and accessible to the masses, and turned to ice cream and cookies as her building blocks. Coolhaus was born and the rest, as they say, is history.

An old postal truck, a few friends and a dream

Natasha and her Co-Founder and partner, Freya Estreller, were ready to introduce Coolhaus to the world in 2009, and they decided that Coachella would be the perfect launching pad, because what better place than a desert music festival to enjoy creamy ice cream treats? The pair bought an old postal truck and converted it into a food truck, convinced a few friends to help in exchange for festival tickets, and drove out to the desert. Their idea caught on instantly— “After Coachella, we saw such a viral demand that we quickly started looking for people to join our team,” she recalls.

In the early days, Natasha and Freya both juggled full-time jobs outside of Coolhaus. Humble beginnings and the need to be scrappy taught them that a little unbalance in life is fine. Bootstrapped for cash, they turned to us to help them incorporate and figure out what kinds of permits and licenses they would need to get up and running. Looking back, Natasha notes that they had no money to spend, but thankfully “LegalZoom was able to do everything that we needed to do at an affordable price point.”

We all scream for ice cream

In the nearly 10 years since Natasha left her day job to become an entrepreneur, Coolhaus has become an ice cream empire. With the help of her spirited team, Natasha expanded the brand into retail—they now sell their hand-crafted sandwiches, pints and bars everywhere from Whole Foods to Safeway to Kroger.

“We now have food trucks in Dallas and New York City, physical stores throughout the greater Los Angeles area and Dallas, and we distribute in 7,500 stores nationwide and internationally.”

That’s not to say that the journey has been seamless—like any small business owner, she had to learn some lessons the hard way. “The nature of running a startup is that you’re going to have obstacles,” remarks Natasha. “For example, getting the right team in place and figuring out the best organizational structure is an always ongoing process…it also takes years to understand who you are and who you want to be as a leader.”

The household ice cream brand of our generation 

Natasha is excited about Coolhaus’ future, and so are we! “The next few years will really be phenomenal for us in terms of some of the new products and flavors we’re introducing; we see Coolhaus as the household brand of our generation.”

She encourages other entrepreneurs to hold tight to their startup character and to surround themselves with others who share their vision (or passion for ice cream). “Keep reminding yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, and always keep that feeling close to you no matter what stage your company is at.”