5 minutes with Yococo founder Sinenhlanhla Ndlela


Sinenhlanhla Ndlela, CEO of Yococo ice cream, chats to Fundiswa Nkwanyana about her business and exhibiting at the Handmade Contemporary Fair 2019.

My fond childhood memories are eating ice cream with my grandmother. I spent a lot of time with her because my parents were in school, and so away for long periods. I looked forward to their return because they always came back with delicious treats and ice cream. My grandmother used to serve me an extra helping; that is how my love for ice cream began. As I grew older, it continued being my favourite treat and I enjoyed indulging in its rich flavours.

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In 2016, I started Yococo because I saw a gap in the market for dairy-free ice cream. Before I started my business, I decided to eliminate all animal products from my diet. With ice cream being my favourite treat, I was sad when I struggled to find one that was dairy-free. This inspired me to create an ice cream from nut-based milk as well as organic fruits and vegetables because those ingredients were part of my diet.

Even though this business has its challenges, it’s a fulfilling venture.  I initially struggled to make my product accepted in certain spaces, use the right jargon and create a holistic work environment. But, I’m glad I overcame these challenges by researching and understanding what it takes to make things work in the dairy-free ice cream sector. With my business growing, my challenge is now capital and capacity. But, I have a plan of action in place to deal with them. I believe that everything has a solution and, as an entrepreneur, I have to come up with creative solutions all the time.

I’ll be exhibiting at the Handmade Contemporary Fair for the first time this year. It was one of my goals to exhibit at the fair because last year, people kept asking me why I wasn’t there. So, when I received the acceptance letter, I was both excited and grateful for the opportunity. I love that the fair exhibits amazing products from creatives across the continent. I’m looking forward to interacting with clients and growing my brand.

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My advice for people who want to follow in my footsteps is to create your own path. You need to figure out what works for you because our journeys are not the same. You also have to understand that nobody knows everything. That is the beauty of life; we’re all here to experience and experiment with it.

The Handmade Contemporary Fair 2019 will take place at the Hyde Park Corner rooftop from 11 – 13 October.