In our efforts to promote proudly South African brands with a particular focus on the youth, we are pleased to reintroduce our Brand of the Month feature. The purpose of this feature is to shine a light on local brands that are getting Pats in the market. Yococo is one particular brand.
We caught up with the founder of this awesome brand, Sinenhlanhla Ndlela to learn more about this great brand.
When did all start and how? What inspired you to start?
It started officially in 2016 after quitting my job and I was looking to do something that is going to serve my purpose, something that made me feel alive and an opportunity to create impact.
I did an extensive amount of research and conducted surveys. I even did taste testing with my neighbours. I would go as far as taking surveys at meetings. I did eventually get out of the planning and brainstorming mood and acted upon my dream.
Yococo sounds fascinating, how did you come with this name?
I knew the product before the name, and I knew it was going to be a coconut-based product that was vegan friendly, and I knew I wanted it to be fun. I had several choices but Yococo stuck because I wanted to include the elements of yoga which means unity. I wanted to bring that element to the brand, and it ended up being a great fit.
On the other side, I thought that I was going to make yoghurt as well so I kept that open.
How did you come up Vegan ice cream as a product to offer?
When I was looking for things that I wanted to di and when I was in the transition phrase the thing that stuck with me was that I wanted to remove animal product s for my diet because I wasn’t feeling ok emotionally and I also wanted to eliminate things that could have been to adding to how I was feeling and first thing that I missed was ice cream.
Who is your target customer?
Vegans, lactose-intolerant people, and health-conscious people
What are some of the challenges your brand faced?
There have been different challenges for different stages of the business. When I was starting the business, I didn’t know what was actually required of me in terms of the business side of things. So I needed to get a bit of business acumen; I also needed to believe in myself and remind myself that I actually could do this thing because I didn’t have a direct reference to what I wanted to do. I had to pick from different inspirations to make what I wanted to come to life.
Finances also were a challenge for my small business. Finding the right team to work with was the key challenge for the different paths of the journey.
What have been some of the highlights of your brand’s journey?
Reflecting on where I started and where I am now even though I am not yet where I want to be; I can definitely see the growth. Last year I made it to the Top 200 Young South Africans for the Mail & Guardian which was so random but so great as it was validating and we got to go to Amsterdam as part of the Investec program which was something I wanted to do and that was definitely a highlight.
Just being recognised and other people seeing the work that I’m doing at Yococo is such a validating thing as well. Also, all the features that we’ve been in, the stores that we now supply, the team that we have. Those are highlights because now I can see that my brand as is not just something that’s in my head.
Where and how people can buy your products?
We have an e-commerce website that people can shop from.
They can also buy firm Thrupps in Illovo, Jackson’s Real Food Market in Kyalami and Bryanston.
In KZN they can get it The Farm Food Factory in Shelly Beach, Home Grown in Ballito.
Where do you see your brand in the next 3 years?
It’s difficult to answer but I know that will be very close to where I want the brand to go. Obviously, I want my brand to grow bigger. I have plans to take it outside the country. I’m open to the possibilities since so much can happen in a year. All I know is we will be leaps and bounds from where we are now.