We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Natalia Sandor. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Natalia below.
Natalia, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. One of the toughest parts of scaling a business is maintaining quality as you grow. How have you managed to maintain quality? Any stories or advice?
For me and my business, quality is key. It plays a major role in my brand equity and my promise to my customers. So, as Sand Bars grows it is over high priority to keep the ice cream sandwiches tasting the same way it did when I hand made each one myself.
This is a hard task on its own considering the proper organization that goes into teaching other people how to make your product the right way while making small compromises to make the production more efficient/effective. Combine this with labor shortages, raw material shortages and the other key hurdles introduced by the pandemic and you have something that takes lots of patience to see through.
Story: My dad and I sat down with the first larger baker who was willing to begin conversations of making my cookies. The man walked in with a sheet tray of what he thought was a good first attempt at matching my recipe. This thing looked like a brownie/ macron/ experiential painting and I simply had to look at the block of mystery and see its potential. Break down the recipe, find where they made a mistake and suggest ways we could work to make it closer to something I was looking for.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
About me: I am Natalia Sandor, born and raised on LI. I studied Business Management at CUNY Macaulay Honors in NYC. I created my business in 2017 from in part, my addiction to ice cream and my ability to make a good chocolate chip cookie! Plus, both my parents were involved in entrepreneurial projects since I could remember… so it is in my DNA.
My product: handcrafted, locally sourced ice cream bars made with my cookie recipe. Rectangular shaped- playing homage to the original ice cream sandwich.
Problems I solve: high-quality and simple flavors. My business is also a platform for a few key things: education, service and visibility. I run a few different internship opportunities/ programs through by business to give students a chance to learn about startups (this is a huge focus for me). I have done programs through junior colleges, 4-year universities and high schools. I have done week long projects, 9-week internships and summer-long shadowing. It is important for me to show others that they can do anything they want. As a young, queer female entrepreneur it is my intention to make people feel heard, included and influential… because they are. The education portion also consists of my journey in learning how to run the business. I participate in lots of different programming, accelerators and bootcamps to learn about how to deal with the forever evolving business.
What sets us apart: our brand, my story and the taste of my product.
I am most proud of the resilience and the learning that has come from this. It has been super important to be resourceful, to take failures as learning and to embrace the potential for this to be the next big thing as well as for it to close tomorrow. The risk is humbling.
The main thing I want people to know is that there is lots of greatness in building and that the only thing that you can be certain of is that you will know more by the time this is all over. I launched this company first through a yard sale at my house with handmade business cards and a handmade freezer wrap. From there, I got a Kickstarter fully funded and utilized a mentor that gave me so much knowledge, support and good energy. Main pieces here: lean on others, build a support system and ask for help because we all start somewhere. Always continue to learn and grow- coaches, peer support and mentors are key in building a proper system.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
In the early days, one of my family members left the freezer door open melting 8 hours of ice cream scooping. I cried as I sat in a puddle of melted ice cream. So, picking myself up, getting more ice cream and scooping everything again is a great example of my ability to keep going despite the intense emotions.
The day a catering company failed to put my product in a freezer upon delivery, melting the largest order I ever made at that time. I had just finished the second session of the day at soccer in college on Staten Island when I got the call. For the first three years, I was running my business during the summers between going away to school. This was one of those weeks that overlapped more than I’d like and to hear the news, write an apology card and deal with the mistake was a tricky thing to do at the beginning of a school semester/ collegiate soccer season.
Some of the biggest moments of resilience has been alongside my dad who gives me a more experienced, male counterpart. He always respects me as the boss but at times has to aid in creating a more impactful negotiating stance as sometimes people have a hard time taking things with me seriously. His guidance and support has allowed me to get through some pretty irritating conversations where I was challenged to swallow opinions, sort out intentions and make business happen the way I need it to.
Any fun sales or marketing stories?
One of the coolest sale was the first wholesale location I landed.
Silly Lilys Fishing Station is where it all began. My mom pushed me to go check out the new location as there was some new movement/ new ownership happening that year. We walked up to the owner and said, you do not have dessert. My ice cream is delicious. You need dessert. They started with a dozen sandwiches, then two dozen and then three… now they order around 200 sandwiches each delivery in the summer.
They gave me a chance and now five years later I have around 20 locations (one of them still being Silly Lilys). To start, my product was in with the bait and now I have a wrapped freezer with only my product in it.