About the interviewee:
Natasha Case attended UC Berkeley for her undergraduate studies, where she majored in Architecture and double minored in City & Regional Planning and Italian Studies. Natasha furthered those studies at UCLA where she pursued a Masters of Architecture. After graduating, she was an architectural intern at Walt Disney Imagineering in Hotel and Master Planning. During this time she started baking cookies and making ice cream, and naming the ice cream sandwich combinations after famous architects and architectural movements. She gave them to peers who found them to be tasty comic despite recent layoffs. A few months later, Natasha and Freya Estreller founded Coolhaus. Today, Natasha is the CEO of Coolhaus. She creates new products, designs merchandise and packaging, runs the marketing department and innovates ideas that keep Coolhaus on top of its game. Natasha has been named Forbes 30 Under 30, and Zagat 30 Under 30 in New York City.
Tell me about your firm:
We have brick and mortar stores in Culver City and Pasadena, CA and trucks in New York City, Austin and Dallas. Our pre-packaged ice cream sammies, pints of ice cream, and hand-dipped ice cream bars can also be found at more than 2,000 gourmet markets across the country! We love to think outside of the box for new companies to work with. We’ve partnered with Urban Outfitters and Quicksilver to merge food, fashion and architecture.
What type and size of companies do you have as clients?
We work with varying types of companies from larger scale corporate (including tech, like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Salesforce and Facebook) to entertainment—film studios who have branded our truck and created custom menus for Emmy campaigns and movie premieres, to just-married couples who have us as the featured dessert for their wedding. Ice cream is so all-encompassing and reaches such a broad audience, which is why we feel there are no limits to our growth!
What comes to mind when you think of “breaking the mold” in Business?
To break the mold in business, I think it’s important to take experience and re-imagine and re-purpose it in alternative ways that haven’t been done before. For example, I took my experiences from working as an architect and making ice cream and combined them. Some people thought it was a crazy idea, but Freya Estreller (Coolhaus co-founder) and I knew we were on to something.
What are the best practices for being innovative and on the cutting edge?
To be cutting edge, your vision has to be bigger than the original business idea; you have to look at what competitors are not doing and see if your company can do it. Coolhaus trucks stand out from other food trucks because of our tri-fold approach in the marketplace: trucks, brick and mortar AND wholesale distribution. I haven’t seen any truck diversify like with have with channels in grocery stores, movie theaters, stadiums and fashion retailers.