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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org