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One to watch: Sinenhlanhla Ndlela

CEO and founder of vegan ice cream company Yococo, Sinenhlanhla Ndlela is gaining recognition for her non-dairy approach to a popular guilty pleasure.

Since starting her company in November 2016, Sinenhlanhla Ndlela, 24, has been recognized by Eat Out South Africa and her product continues to sell out at Sunday markets. We got to know Sine and discovered her favourite flavour, dream collaboration, and life mantra.

dairy free ice cream south africa

Sinenhlanhla Ndlela | Trevor Stuurman

Why vegan ice cream?

I wanted to become a vegan and I realized there wasn’t any ice cream that I actually liked without dairy and I love ice cream!! There was definitely a gap in the market as well. What better way to fulfil your purpose than to do it through what you love?

What is vegan ice cream?

Vegan ice cream is ice cream that doesn’t have any animal products. There are zero dairy, egg, honey, or gelatin products. I can almost always predict the question that will follow: “Then what is made of?”It's made with nut based milks and creams.

Are there any health benefits?

The other ingredients that make up the ice cream are fruits and vegetables; we use as many natural ingredients as possible so that the ice cream is full of real goodness.

What’s your favourite flavour?

It's almost like having favourites among your children but to be honest my current favourite is the Lemon Dreams.

What’s the process of creating a new flavour?

Sometimes it's very spontaneous and other times I have to look at what I have in stock and see what I could do with it. At times things go wrong, and from that, a new flavour emerges.

Tell us about the collaboration with streetwear brand, DEAD 93.

The DEAD. collaboration started very randomly. Thabang Rabothatha (founder of DEAD.) contacted me through social media and requested a meeting. At first, I was a little sceptical as I am always unsure of people’s commitment, but it turned out to be a great collaboration. We launched the ice cream at Van De Waffle in Rosebank Mall; it was greatly received.

Why collaborate with a fashion brand?

I was sold on the fact that they are about a designed lifestyle. This fits into the Yococo vision as we create designer ice cream; that’s the common ground found between the two brands. Thabang handles the marketing while I focus on the production.

Tell us about your dream collaboration?

I would really love to have my ice cream at the Ice Cream Museum but I’m not actively pursuing that for now, it will happen when the time is right.

What’s your favourite fashion piece?

I love handmade pieces and there is this beautiful choker my late grandmother made for me with beautiful beads.

What’s the one thing that is always in your handbag?

Hand sanitizer.

What has been your biggest challenge in starting a business?

Believing in myself to make my dream a reality, especially when people told me that the process wasn’t going to be as beautiful as I envisioned it.

How do you pick yourself up after a failure?

It's not a failure if I can learn something from it, that’s what helps me.

What is your life’s mantra?

It's all just a trip - don’t take it too seriously.

Follow Yococo on Twitter and Instagram, and send orders for ice cream to

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