Vegan ice cream proves a cool idea
In the Venn diagram, the word delicious appeared twice. Zina Edwards Malcolm and Nikki Fagan are used to working data charts putting a brand together for their clients.
But they put themselves in both the driver's and the passenger's seats when the The Brand Lion started distributing their own brand of frozen dessert, Cocovida.
“As entrepreneurs, once you can believe in something, then it's a much easier path to building out a brand and selling it,” Ms Edwards Malcolm said.
“Nikki is always on the hunt for new and exciting things. She called me and said, ‘Zina how about some vegan ice cream?' I said, ‘Sure'.
“She said, ‘No, no, no, how about we sell some vegan ice cream?'”
They sourced the product, “a vegan, gluten-free frozen dessert that is really creamy without dairy” in Florida. The producers have had success in places like Aruba and Miami Beach.
Taking note of the growing trend towards vegan, plant-based vegan lifestyles, it also helped that Ms Fagan is lactose intolerant.
“I went to the factory and we talked about the Bermuda market,” Ms Edwards Malcolm said.
“It is the perfect tropical dessert for the evolving tastes of consumers. People are more and more concerned with eliminating dairy from their diet for health or ethical reasons and also more and more people have expressed interest in being gluten-free, not just coeliacs.”
While they explored other flavour combinations including chocolate and piña colada, Ms Edwards Malcom said she's “a vanilla girl” at heart.
“Because I'm the greediest member of the team, I tasted all the flavours,” she said. “They created a version that was perfect for us. The naked coconut is the simple, pure coconut flavour — mild, not too coconutty. We didn't want it to be too sweet.
“Of course, we're a branding company, so we decided to create a brand just for Bermuda with this recipe in mind — Cocovida the coconut life,” she said
“The ingredients list is nice and short with high quality ingredients. People that have had it are fans.
“The concern with a lot of these substitutes is that they will either sacrifice the flavour or the ingredients. We didn't sacrifice quality or flavour for a really superior product.”
The brand consultants had a ready retailer in their top client Buzz, who created Coco Shakes, a vegan version of their popular recipes.
“They were really excited because it was vegan and gluten-free and delicious, most importantly,” Ms Edwards Malcolm said of the partnership.
Over the summer it was available at Snorkel Park, Tobacco Bay, for special events at the Fairmont Southampton and Village Pantry.
“All of them used it in a slightly different way,” she said.
“We were able to promote the stuff on the menu and create tabletop flyers or promotional posters for our various retailers.
“It's ideal with a touch of rum. Take out one scoop, make a well and pour the rum in and it is a really ramped up Cocovida.”
They did the city Food Festival dessert event, the BTA Food Truck Festival and Cup Match Summer Splash. They also partnered with One Communications, the ones who added rum.
They will partner with a major summer beach event at the end of June. A Cocovida bicycle and a push cart can hold up to 100 half-shells for events including bridal or baby showers.
“If people are catering for their parties they could just reach in and pull out a half shell Coco Vita, rip off the covering and get to work devouring it,” she said.
She loves that it's housed in a real coconut half shell.
“It's really in line with modern trend in food and values,” she said.
“It's a sustainable product because you're not throwing away plastic containers. The shells can be used later as a soap dish or serving bowls. I know someone who has made it into a candle.
“The coconut hairs have been shaved down, it's been sterilised. In Aruba the people with their recipe they actually collect the reused shells and distribute them to Local artisans to make jewellery and other stuff out of them.”
She described it as “an easy dessert that has big-time wow”.
“When completed with a sprig of mint, raspberry and drizzled with liqueur it's a striking and easy to deliver dish,” she said.
“The shells are shaved on the bottom so they can rest firmly on a plate.”
Other flavours are available for catered events in gallon containers.
While going dairy-free was the incentive, the pair relished the opportunity to “exert [their] creative chops”.
“We've never done anything like this before,” she said. “It's certainly being a major learning curve.”
Their “racy” introductory campaign got tongues wagging. “It definitely got interest,” she said. “Our Cocovida social media is quite sexy it was quite provocative and a lot of fun. We've been quiet of the last few months because of the cold weather but we're beginning to ramp up again.”