Sisters Zan B.R., a lawyer, and Courtney Blagrove founded Whipped Urban Dessert Lab in 2019. They started the world’s first oat-milk soft serve shop in New York after realizing the lactose intolerance in the Black community as well as the lack of authentic plant-based ice cream.
The duo pooled their resources together and launched an allergen-free ice cream shop. After experimenting with many recipes, they decided on an oat milk ice cream, and in 2019, just when the pandemic was spreading, they opened Whipped Urban Dessert Lab.
“Many dairy alternatives rely on nut milks, which cannot be consumed by those with nut allergies, or coconut milk, which has an overpowering flavor. By using oats, we created a smooth, creamy, indulgent experience without any dairy, nuts, or tree nuts that even dairy lovers cannot resist,” Courtney and Zan told VegOut.
“Compared to other plant-based milks, oats also are sustainable, low-input crops that have less of a carbon footprint. In addition, we are improving accessibility for those with food allergies and the increasing number of individuals interested in plant-based foods,” they added.
The ice cream shop features three signature oat milk ice cream bases—Sweet Creme with a touch of vanilla, Chocolate and the Whipped Twist, which is a combination of the two, they told VegOut. According to the founders, the flavors on the menu are inspired by “nostalgia and our experiences.”
According to them, they were raised in a single-parent household that didn’t have money. Nonetheless, their mother sacrificed to make sure that they were part of academic programs and competitions that made them travel. While Zan is a lawyer, Courtney has a degree in nutrition and metabolism.
“We remember staying at a particular hotel where they would place a chocolate mint on the bed pillows. We loved those mints as kids, and [the experience] inspired our Mint Chocolate Cookie Flavor,” they told VegOut.
The sisters started their business with a pop-up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, before moving into a brick-and-mortar location in Manhattan in February 2020, with another on the way in Los Angeles, California. As they attracted more customers, the two released Oaté, a line of hard scoop ice cream pints that are available for nationwide shipping.
“They also sell a version layered with sauce and toppings in cute half-pint boxes…on goldbelly.com,” according to the Times.
Despite facing challenges like funding and the pandemic, Zan and Courtney have weathered the storm to achieve success.
“Opening our shoppe right before the pandemic, operating during the pandemic, and surviving the pandemic in one of the hardest hit cities (NYC) has given us a unique perspective and experience. It was tough, but we are tougher,” they said.