Truth be told, I am not a vegan. However I do understand that there are some benefits physically, socially and environmentally for being so. So in my life I try to make balance and holistic choices in my daily routine. One day whilst scoping the dairy-free ice cream aisle I came across this wonderous product called CocoLuscious. I could just not go past the fact that it had only 4-ingredients, all of which I was familiar with. When I had it in my mouth (Vanilla Gold) I was totally hooked and never turning back... CocoLuscious was my new go-to ice cream to have in the freezer. By the time Christmas came around it was another surprise, Swami and her team create the most amazing Christmas Ice-Cream EVER!! I was so grateful to be allowed into CocoLuscious' factory and meet the inspiring woman behind the Brand, Swami.
Swami, tell us about your life journey – how did you come to be a producer of delicious organic products of chocolate and ice cream?
In terms of my entrepreneurial life, I consider myself to be a late developer. After finishing school, I spend the first couple of years working in a job I didn’t love to save enough money to do what I did love: travelling. When I was 27, I had my first child, and spent the next 9 years raising my son, with very little idea of what I would do with my life. I still loved travelling, and had recently returned from living in France, and whilst there, I decided I wanted to have my own business. I wasn’t sure what it would be, but felt a compelling urge to start something that was aligned with my values and passion. My other great love was chocolate, and during a 40 day “raw food challenge” I tasted raw chocolate for the first time, which planted the seed for Rawganic. After nine months of recipe trials and many taste tests later, Rawganic was born on August 13, 2008.
You originally started off making chocolates and there’s a funny story about how you started on the ice cream – can you share it with us?
Yes, just a few months after making my first sales of Rawganic, I went into my production room where I had been melting cacao butter for that day’s production, and had to run out of the room because the smell was so overwhelming. It turned out that I was pregnant with my second child, and from that moment on, I couldn’t smell, look at or eat chocolate again without being sick, thus ending my chocolate making career! That was January 2009, and in April 2010, when my second son was 7 months old, I was overcome once again with an entrepreneurial urge to create a new business. I was reading the ingredients on a tub of soy ice cream, the only vegan ice cream that was available at that time, and couldn’t even pronounce half the ingredients. It was then that I thought there must be a healthier option, and four months later, on Rawganic’s second Birthday, CocoLuscious was released at my favourite vegan restaurant, with its official release (in tubs) three weeks later.
Where do you source all the ingredients from for both the chocolates and ice cream?
Our ingredients are sourced from all over the globe: the coconut milk comes from Thailand; the agave, cacao powder and coconut sugar are from Mexico; the mango is Australian; the vanilla beans and extract are from the United States … the most important factor is that they’re certified organic and fair trade.
One of the major things I love about your ice cream is that in the basic versions there are literally 4 ingredients in them of which I all know – how do the ingredients in your product impact what you are about?
When I was reading the tub of soy ice cream that inspired me to create CocoLuscious, I counted 19 ingredients. I truly believed that this was not necessary, and my first recipe trial for CocoLuscious was pretty much what I ended up going with (with the addition of less than 1% guar gum to help the consistency). We try to keep all the flavours as minimal as possible, which I think reflects my lifestyle and business model. I like simplicity!
I am not vegan, but your ice-cream is one of my favourite ice-creams, are you vegan and is this a major part of your business practice or would you say its more about knowing and being able to source & trace where each of your ingredients come from ?
I am vegan, and it is definitely the most important aspect of my business practice. Veganism is what I live and breathe, and I am proud to have a vegan company, where all my staff share my ethics and values. While this is of great importance to me, I know the satisfaction all my employees have working for a vegan business with likeminded colleagues. It can be difficult being vegan in a non-vegan world, and our workplace is like a little sanctuary for us and gives us all a sense of solidarity.
Tell everyone about the flavours of your ice-creams?
I started CocoLuscious with the release of three flavours, with the vision of releasing three flavours every season for the first year. Since the release date was in Spring, I made the Spring flavours Vanilla, Coconut and Chocolate. These are still our top three flavours (Chocolate being number one).
For Summer, I thought three fruit flavours would be nice, so went with Raspberry, Blueberry and Mango.
Leading up to Autumn, I put a post on facebook asking for some flavour ideas. Chai and Peppermint Choc Chip were requested. I had no idea what Chai ice cream should taste like, but I remember going to the factory one day waiting for a delivery, and decided to play with a few spices. I made a batch and tasted it, and thought it was amazing! That trial turned into the recipe we use today.
The Peppermint Choc Chip trial was not met with the same enthusiasm. When I tasted it, I thought there was a huge flavour clash with the coconut milk and peppermint, and I took the 10 litre bucket to my nearest stockist, gave it to the girls and told them it was awful and I wasn’t going to release it. For the next few days, every staff member of that store called me and said I HAD to release it, as they all thought it was fantastic. I followed their advice, and it turned out to be our fourth best selling flavour. The third Autumn flavour was Vanilla Choc Chip.
With only one season to go, Winter, I decided to make Coffee, Chilli Chcoolate and Choc Chip Cookie Dough.
I planned to stop at 12 flavours, but had requests to make some flavours sweetened with coconut sugar instead of agave, so released our “Gold” range in Vanilla and Chocolate.
We also make a Christmas ice cream, which is only released from October 25 until Christmas each year. It’s pretty special: cherries and cranberries soaked in French brandy overnight, then mixed through a base of either Vanilla or Chocolate (from the Gold range), with the addition of coconut flakes and chocolate chips.
Which is your favourite and do you have any special way you like to eat them?
My favourite is Chocolate Christmas – it’s a dangerous time of year for me, because once I start a tub, it’s hard to stop!! Outside Christmas time, I love Chilli Chocolate, although I only ever eat it at one of my favourite restaurants on the Gold Coast, Tian Ran, with their sago. Friends (and restaurant staff) find it funny that I go out and eat/pay for my own ice cream, but I eat it out more than I have it at home! I usually only have the occasional tub of vanilla in my home freezer, which I use in smoothies and iced chocolate.
What are your future plans for the business?
My business vision is massive!! There will be many more products coming in the next few years, and probably a few more flavours. I’d like CocoLuscious to be available worldwide (at this stage it’s available Australia wide, New Zealand and Malaysia). My son is 15 now and has quite an entrepreneurial spirit, and has been talking about his own vision for CocoLuscious. Between the two of us, we’ll be a formidable team, and I believe that if we have the dream, we can make it happen. Watch this space!