An innovator, ice-cream trendsetter and an all-around phenomenal woman. Sinenhlanhla Ndlela, better known by the ice-cream community as Sine, is showing the world that dairy-free ice-cream can be creamy, fun and quirky.
Founder of Yococo, makers of artificial colouring and dairy-free, vegan-friendly ice-cream, Ndlela is an “ice-cream loving, melanin popping, queen.” This ice-cream loving queen is originally from KwaZulu-Natal. Inspired by her home town and entrepreneurial family she saw an opportunity to start her own venture.
“Although I come from a family with strong entrepreneurial backgrounds, when it came to which field I wanted to specialize in, there was no pressure whatsoever.”
She believes that “a destination reached without a challenging journey is like having ice-cream after it has already melted – a loss of purpose is just not as rewarding.” The ice-cream queen attended a number of schools throughout her academic career. She started off grade one at Mamello Primary school in the Free State, and matriculated at Epworth School in KZN.
“By attending many different schools throughout my 12-year journey I knew that wherever I found myself, it would be in a creatively challenging space.” This is why she made the courageous decision to study television writing and post-production at AFDA Cape Town.
AFDA’s overall goal is to be a relevant educational institution that contributes to African nation-building. They also pride themselves in “providing a stimulating and globally integrated learning experience that empowers students with productive, innovative skills.”
After graduating at AFDA in 2016, Ndlela felt unfulfilled. She decided that because she had strong entrepreneurial blood running through her veins she would start her own business. By combining her love for ice-cream and wanting to stick to her non-animal product diet at the time, Yococo was born in the vibrant city of Johannesburg. She now travels all around South Africa to market her product. This ice-cream queen took what AFDA taught her and turned it into a practical, profitable, meaningful and dynamic business.
Yococo prides themselves in developing exciting and interesting flavours.
Chocolate, coffee, cookies and cream, cranberry and mixed berries might sound like ordinary flavours. “You will never get basic flavours with us, as we go the extra mile by mixing conventional ice-cream flavours with unconventional elements like lavender, rosewater… Because of our unique pairing of flavours, we often collaborate with other brands and companies for special flavours and events.” Yococo has collaborated with Cartier, Ster Kinekor and J&B, to name but a few.
Yococo has not just collaborated with these unique brands, but behind the scenes they have worked with influencers like Lesego Semenya, known as Les da Chef. Les is a former process engineer who quit the corporate world and travelled around SA for a year before he enrolled himself in culinary school. He now lives by his slogan of “taking the snobbery out of food”. When Yococo got the scoop on how Les da Chef had to change his diet as a dairy-lover when he found out he had type 1 diabetes, the two brands collaborated to make some diet-fitting Yococo magic happen.
Ndlela works beside two strong women, Ayanda Guma and Thandeka Nkosi. “They really see the vision of my business and I love that they are both quite different, but it’s almost as if they highlight different aspects of my personality.”
Their mission is to serve love in every scoop. “We use as many locally sourced ingredients and packaging as possible, as it is not only good for the environment but great for us as a sustainable business,” Ndlela shared.