Founder of vegan ice-cream brand Sinenhlanhla Ndlela on how her business survived lockdown

Part of the Yococo Team
Part of the Yococo Team
Sinehlanhla Ndlela/Instagram

The lockdown hasn’t been easy for many, with businesses closing and people facing uncertainties over their present or futures – it certainly hasn’t been easy.  However, there are people who are finding ways to shine a light and spread love during this time. This local online ice-cream business is one of them.

DRUM spoke to Sinenhlanhla Ndlela, the owner and founder of Yococo, SA’s most-sought-after vegan ice-cream brand. Sinenhlanhla left her job in TV production to pursue a life making and serving vegan ice cream, without having owned or managed a business before, or knowing anything about the product she wanted to sell. 

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Speaking to Food24, she expressed that this was a completely new experience for her. “I didn’t know anything about making ice cream. I only knew how I wanted it to taste.”

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Trusting her inner voice, Yococo has seen great growth since she took the leap of faith. Sinenhlanhla shares that she has had to constantly redefine her why and making it as clear as possible for herself each year. 

“Experiencing this growth has been epic, exciting and sometimes scary! The lessons I have taken from the journey so far are not to identify myself with Yococo; not to base my self-esteem on my ideas, some ideas work and some don’t work. I’ve had to learn that it doesn’t have a direct reflection on who I am as a person,” Sinenhlanhla says.

“I have also learnt to allow people to help me when I need the help and also asking for helping is very important. The other important thing is how do I serve through my work and that really helps me remove myself and my insecurities.”

Yococo has recently launched a new initiative: providing groceries to child-headed homes and homes with people with disabilities. Sinenhlanhla said the idea came to her when she was asking herself how she can extend a helping hand during this time. “Honestly, I had been asking myself how can I help during this time and for a long time I didn’t know how, but as we were finalising the website it just came to me and I thought that a lot of people are really hungry right now and they need food. I then figured that I cannot do it alone and had to reach out to people I knew would really be keen to jump in and help us do this,” she says. Since then, they have assisted more than 20 households through serving love through scoops.

With the Covid-19 lockdown, many businesses have taken a hit or closed. Sinenhlanhla says that fortunately for the Yococo family, things have always been unfamiliar for them and they are able to continue doing their work.

“We live in the unknown most of the time. As a result of this, the time we find ourselves in as a small business is not so scary for us. All the things we are doing right now is what was already in our plans. I am more confident things will always workout and allowing things to unfold, but to also always serve love first,” Sinenhlanhla says.

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