Ice cream has been a part of Coolhaus cofounders Natasha Case and Freya Estreller’s relationship since the very beginning.
In fact, Case brought along ice cream sandwiches on the couple’s first-ever date.
As Estreller says, “the rest is history.” The couple has been married for four years and now operates an ice cream brand with 10 trucks in Los Angeles, New York, and Houston, storefronts in Pasadena and Culver City, and a line of products featured in grocery stores nationwide.
The idea for Coolhaus really kicked off when Case participated in an employee bake sale while she was still working at Walt Disney Imagineering.
“I made ice cream sandwiches, and seeing how popular ice cream sandwiched in between two cookies was, Freya and I decided to transition our hobby into a business,” she told Business Insider.
Things progressed pretty quickly after that.
“We decided to just jump in, head-first, not spending too much time coming up with business or financial plans,” Estreller says. “We both had the thought, ‘let’s just do this and not sit around and wait. We can figure things out as we go.'”
The theme behind Coolhaus was a nod to Case’s architectural background. The name of the brand is a play on the Bauhaus movement, as well as a nod to Dutch architect and theorist Rem Koolhaas.
“Our official launch was at Coachella in 2009 in an old, beat-up postal van we bought off of Craigslist,” Case says. “We drove it to Indio, California, to serve ice cream sammies with punny and architecturally inspired names.”
With names like Frank Behry (sugar cookie with strawberry ice cream), Mintimalism (chocolate chip cookie with mint chip ice cream), and Mies Vanilla Rohe (chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream), the ice cream sandwiches were a hit.
“During the festival, Coolhaus went viral and we had acquired a small cult following,” Case says. “Freya and I both said to each other that we couldn’t ignore the interest and demand for our product.”
In addition to running a business together, Case and Estreller also share a mini schnauzer named Hamilton and a Lhasa Apso named Scoob. They were married in 2012, and their first child is due in February.
The couple spoke with Business Insider and shared some of their insight on how to run a business with your spouse:
1. Don’t make business disagreements personal
“We both know after almost 10 years of business together how not to turn our work arguments into a personal attack on the other person,” Case says. “When we have business disagreements, we embrace them for what they are and know that we are a strong couple who can get through the argument to get to a higher ground and have a better understanding of each other from the disagreement.”
2. Learn from one another
Case says that, in the early days of Coolhaus, Estreller focused on operations and finance, while she tackled marketing, sales, and branding. Those roles have shifted over time.
“These days, people think Freya is the creative and I’m the numbers person,” Case says. “We have absorbed each other’s strengths to become better leaders and business owners. These wouldn’t have appeared unless we created a business together, so it is almost as if we have seen another side of each other.”
3. Be smart about your money
Estreller says that it’s important to keep an eye on your finances, as you’ll be “dipping from the same well” as a couple.
“When you don’t have a steady income, it can be hard to plan for your future such as buying a house or saving for children,” she told Business Insider. “For us, we recognise that our business relationship has strengthened and brought our personal relationship closer, and we know we are prepared to start a family together.”
4. Never neglect your relationship
“Just be sure to create boundaries and establish a relationship outside of work so you don’t lose your personal relationship because of the business,” Case says. “We make it a point to go out and have fun at least once a week and not talk about the business. “
5. Get your (legal) ducks in a row
“Also, when you go into business together, you don’t think the worst case scenario will happen, but it may,” Estreller says. “From the very beginning, make a clear legal plan in case this happens. Not only will you thank yourselves for putting it in place prior to the situation, but you’ll have something legally to protect each other from the fallout.”
6. Rely on each other for support
“Having the ability to share successes together and come through difficult times with someone you love, admire, and respect is something amazing to achieve together,” Case says.
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