Coolhaus co-founders Natasha Case and Freya Estreller started baking cookies, making ice cream, and combining them into “cool houses” in 2008. With mutual backgrounds in the design and real estate fields, they began naming their ice cream sandwiches after architects and architectural movements that inspired them – and eventually decided to take their newfound passion (dubbed “Farchitecture,” or Food + Architecture) to their hometown streets in Los Angeles. So after a few days on Craigslist (and some time convincing their families they weren’t crazy), they found and bought a beat-up old postal van, trekked out to the world-famous Coachella Valley Music Festival in April 2009 to make their debut, and, well…the rest is history.
Now, Coolhaus distributes in 6,000+ grocery stores ranging from Whole Foods to Safeway to Publix markets with 30 SKU’s including hand-crafted ice cream sandwiches, artisan pints and chocolate-dipped bars. Fans can also visit Coolhaus at its two Southern California-based storefronts in Culver City and Pasadena, or swing by one of the 10 mobile ice cream trucks and carts in Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas.
What Makes Us Unique?
At Coolhaus, we love all types of food and strive to push the boundaries of traditional dessert by creating unique, sweet-meets-savory flavors you can’t find anywhere else. We sit down for a meal and think, “Shucks, wouldn’t that make a good ice cream sandwich combo?” (True story: pickled ginger radish and wasabi at a sushi dinner became an ice cream sandwich with ginger cookies and chocolate wasabi ice cream.) Our adventurous palates have led us to create pint flavors, like Milkshake & Fries, Balsamic Fig & Mascarpone and Street Cart Churro Dough, that consistently shake up the freezer aisle.
Equally important to our dedication to innovation is our commitment to quality. All Coolhaus ice cream is made at a 20% overrun making it one of the creamiest, most delicious ice creams on the market. Each treat is handcrafted with hormone free, real California milk, cage free eggs, fairtrade chocolate and the freshest, most unique ingredients available, meaning some flavors and ingredients are seasonal to promote peak flavor and responsible sourcing. Coolhaus is also a certified woman-owned business.
What’s Up With the Architectural Connection?
The inspiration for Coolhaus started when co-founder Natasha was exploring the concept of “Farchitecture” – or, Food + Architecture – in her graduate architecture program. The concept originated with the broader notion that design could enhance one’s eating experience, and, by the same token, that food could bring awareness to the the design field, especially during the recession. After experimenting with different kinds of desserts, it quickly became clear that ice cream sandwiches were a perfect (and not to mention, delicious) medium to further explore this relationship.
Cookies, ice cream, and their combinations presented endless possibilities to deconstruct flavor profiles, and using pun-y names like the “Frank Berry” (Snickerdoodle cookies + Strawberry ice cream) started making knowledge about architecture and design fun and accessible amongst consumers. In fact, the name of the company (which is the first project under the Farchitecture umbrella) is a triple entendre:
1. Bauhaus, an influential modernist design movement of the 1920’s and 30’s.
2. Rem Koolhaas, a famous Dutch architect and theorist.
3. “Cool house,” or what you’re eating when you bite into an ice cream sandwich…right?
Natasha Case is a Los Angeles native. She 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, and after graduating worked as 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 handed them out to her peers who found them to be tasty comic relief in spite of recent layoffs and discussion of further impending cutbacks. She had also just met Freya, who was helping her make the product behind the scenes along with putting numbers to the concept as a business model.
A few months later, they bought a beat up postal van on Craigslist, officially called the ice cream sandwich line Coolhaus (after architect Rem Koolhaas, Bauhaus – the minimalist design and lifestyle movement of the 1920’s and 1930’s in Germany …and because the ice cream sandwiches looked like tiny cold houses!), and were [barely] ready to hit the road!
The first event they participated in was Coachella Valley Music Festival in 2009, where they towed their barely drive-able postal van to the concert grounds and setup to serve their product to an audience of 100,000. They built a loyal following over the festival weekend and returned to LA to an abundance of viral press, a rapidly building social media following, and an eager foodie audience/client and customer base.
Since then, Natasha, as CEO, has overseen the business to a national fleet of trucks, including 4 trucks and two brick and mortars (Old Town Pasadena and Culver City) in LA, 2 trucks and one cart in NYC, and 4 truck in Dallas, TX. Coolhaus has distribution in over 5,000 supermarket doors nationwide. Under Natasha‘s oversight as CEO, Coolhaus has become one of the leading innovative dessert brands, and successfully launched new products including hand-dipped ice cream bars and pints for grocery. Thus far, the company revenue has at least doubled if not tripled every year, with 2017 yielding healthy profits.
Natasha works today as the CEO of Coolhaus, creating new products, designing merchandise and packaging, running the marketing department, building new relationships and innovating ideas that keep Coolhaus on top of its game as zealous expansion continues. Natasha has been named Forbes 30 Under 30 for Food and Beverage, and Zagat 30 Under 30 in New York City.