Starting Say Hello Sweets, a vegan ice cream truck in Vancouver, British Columbia, was essentially an accident. In spring 2015, Naomi Arnaut’s dog, Babycakes, needed emergency surgery and after seeing the interest rate on the vet bill, she knew she had to do something to help her cover the costs.
By summer 2015, the bill was becoming too much to keep up with, so Naomi put together an ice cream tasting fundraiser. She made ice cream for the first time, and asked for donations to help her pay off Babycakes bill. “I figured even if the ice cream wasn’t great, my friends and family would still appreciate the effort and help out if they could,” she shared. It was to Naomi’s surprise when her friends and family really loved her ice cream and started putting in orders. Although she had toyed with the idea of a food truck before, she never really had a food concept that clicked. “An ice cream truck felt so perfect!”
Fast forward to November and Naomi bought the truck where she would serve her ice cream concoctions. She then purchased a new motor for her truck and by spring 2016 she had secured financing and built it into a kitchen. “It has just been a series of baby steps,” she explained.
But Say Hello Sweets doesn’t just serve your typical dairy ice cream, instead, Naomi has put her own spin on it and created dairy-free ice cream treats. “I don’t drink milk and I always felt uneasy about the dairy industry,” she explained. “I knew that if I was to continue making a dairy product that I would need to find an ethical and sustainable source.” Naomi found that the further she did her research, the more uncomfortable she became with the dairy industry. And after visiting a dairy barn and witnessing calves being removed from their mothers, and cows being used for not so nice experiments, Naomi knew, without a doubt, that she had to find an alternative.
Naomi began experimenting as she was determined she would achieve the same texture as dairy ice cream, without having to actually use dairy. This became her mission before opening Say Hello Sweets. Every night she would come home from her serving job and started experimenting into the morning hours with recipes until she had something she was proud of. Her ice creams now are made with a blend of coconut milk, cashew milk, organic agave syrup and other natural ingredients. Living proof that if you are determined to make something happen that may seem impossible to some, you can!
With the winter fast approaching, Naomi applied to be a vendor at Vancouver Winter Market where if her application is accepted, she plans to focus on coffee and take home pints of ice cream from her truck. She also is working on getting her products into boutique markets, with success so far at Smallflower Bakeshop and Fluffy Kittens Ice Cream Parlour, and having her truck available for private events through the fall and winter months.
For other entrepreneurs, she leaves you with one piece of advice: “If you are really passionate, no challenge or obstacle will hold you back. It’s okay to be scared, but keep pushing for your goals and ask for help.”
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada