Sinenhlanhla Ndlela moved to Johannesburg to discover her true purpose – and found it as an entrepreneur, making delicious artisanal ice-cream

“I left Cape Town to work in the TV industry, but I had a desire for deeper fulfilment. I just didn’t know how to achieve it,” recalls Ndlela.
Her search for purpose coincided with a foray into veganism, but her lifelong love of ice-cream made giving up dairy very difficult. A natural problem-solver, she decided to make her own range of creamier, fun ice-creams for the growing vegan community.

Despite her new-found commitment, she worried about breaking the news of her career change to her family.

READ MORE: Veganism: More than a diet

“I didn’t think they’d understand it because, for them, ice-cream is just a treat that costs a few rand. I knew they’d doubt the sustainability of such a business.”

However, Ndlela’s mother turned out to be her biggest champion, paying for three months’ rent, stock and equipment.

“I thought I had to have a shop, so I rushed into renting a small space in the CBD. But it was a disaster, in the wrong location for my brand. People there don’t want artisanal ice-cream – they want a quick, hot meal for lunch. I opened in February last year and it was such a struggle that I closed the shop in April this year. I was only making about R25 a week and couldn’t draw a salary. I had to do freelance work to support myself,” she says.

However, she hasn’t given up. She’s now making ice-cream at home and supplying a few select farm-style shops and delis, running pop-up stalls at various markets and offering a delievery service through social media.

Her innovative postings on these platforms and delectable flavour pairings have won her many fans and helped her target the right audience.

READ MORE: Why more women are choosing the vegan lifestyle

Her strong, unique selling point, she says, is ice-cream a spiritual slant. “I’m a big believer in homeopathic and natural remedies and these principles guide my ice-cream flavours. They’re matched to chakras[the centresin our bodies through which energy flows]. So, for example, the third chakra– in the solar plexus – is represented by yellow. My flavour for that is Lemon Dreams, combining lemon, granadilla and chocolate. It’s one of my best-sellers,” she says.

She’s also done an incubation programme to find entrepreneurial advice.

“I’m taking things slowly, but my next phase is getting bigger machinery, staff and maybe a mobile kitchen or food truck. At the moment, I’m building capacity and creating interest in the brand. I’d like to have a place where people can taste my ice-cream, but I don’t think I’d go the shop route again. I’m doing things my own way – one step at a time,” says Ndlela.

Place orders for Ndlela’s ice-creams via Instagram or email: info@yococo.co.za