Meet the Latina Founder who brings the heat to ice cream by creating flavors inspired by her Mexican Heritage. Stephanie De La Cruz, Latina Founder of De La Creamery, spoke with Consuelo Crosby of the Life Lnxx Podcast in episode 92. She shares how her business stems from who she is but rarely does the media ask her story. That is what the Life Lnxx Podcast is all about: A safe place for Latinas to speak their truth to feel confident, seen and loved.
And what’s not to love about a mujer, who crowned her love of ice cream with her most valuable jewel, her Mexican heritage. From favorite flavors of Dulce de Leche and Mexican Chocolate to exciting new creations, like Elote Ice Cream nachos with spicy salsa macha topping, Stephanie’s creative genius runs deep and lively.
Learn more about Stephanie De La Cruz in this article based on the podcast episode and support her contribution to the Latina community.
Why don’t we just dive right in because I’m excited to get to your entrepreneurial journey of ice cream making in the traditional flavors of Mexico.
But first, we’d love to hear your cultural heritage story.
So I was born in Southern California, in Los Angeles County as were my parents. We are multi-generation in the country, so we grew up in deep Chicano culture. That’s really how I identify is Mexican American. And it’s a very passionate bond between being Mexicano and being American.
I grew up in a very large family. my parents are, one of five siblings, both of them. And, I am also one of five siblings. I’m the baby of my family and with that comes a little bit of rule breaking, I would say. Then , I moved to the Bay Area in 2014.
Why did you move to the San Francisco Bay Area when LA has such a tight knit Mexican community?
I knew I was always gonna move to San Francisco specifically. It was like my teenage dream, we’ll say. I wanted to go to college up here and, I said that I was gonna move up here to work for the Giants. I’m a huge sports fan. I studied, in broadcast communications for my degree when I came up here at San Francisco State because I wanted to be in sports broadcasting.
So, I started working in production and I worked in radio for a few years. I worked at the Giants Stadium and the coolest day for me is when I could tell my family, they (The SF Giants) signed my checks. Like it was was for real.
I was really young when I started, and being young, being Latina, um, being a woman in that field, it’s really hard to navigate through. Like the equipment isn’t made for anyone who’s like under 5′-11″. It’s really, really tough.
You are so outside the box for a young Latina to go after this profession. So, how did De La Creamery get started?
So, I’ve always loved ice cream. Growing up, my dad would pick me up after school and he would take us to get ice cream, and then we would go play at the park for hours. My mom, on her evenings off, we would make ice cream sundaes, banana splits or cones at home.
So, ice cream has always been a very family oriented activity for me.
In 2019, me and my partner had been together for, at that point, like six years. We kinda get to the point at a certain time in a relationship, you don’t know what to get each other anymore so he got me a ice cream machine for Christmas. I remember asking him, “I’m kind of confused, like, I didn’t ask for this. What did you get this for me for?” And he was like, “Stephanie, you know that you love ice cream?”
That’s a lot of American style ice cream, so how were you inspired to make Mexican flavors?
I thought back to how to make Horchata and I kind of started there. A story that I have to go along with it, and this is very dear to my heart, is growing up, I was surrounded by so many strong Latina mothers, who I spent a lot of time with.
One day, I was at my friend Yvonne’s house and her mom was in the kitchen and I asked, “What are you making?” She told me she was making Horchata. I asked her if she could teach me how to make it because no one in my family had ever made it. I never knew how to do that.
A lot of people have told me now, especially with my business, that my ancestors are guiding me through this experience. I feel like a lot of our culture does get Americanized or kind of lost if we let it be lost.
I feel like with De La Creamery in my life, I found a way back to that in a lot of ways. It may have been blurred or purposely blocked out or, you know, there’s so many reasons why our culture gets cut away, as we develop a life in America.
And I feel like Del la Creamery has brought me just so much closer to my family as a whole, but also family members who I didn’t have relationships with before. I feel that there’s a line for me back to who we are and where we came from.
What was it like for your parents when you left your full time job to follow your dream?
Honestly, that was really hard to tell my parents, specifically that I was making this jump, because I had reached the point of my job, a level of success, that was their goal really. That was their dream.
It was a salary job. I would make commission. I was able to provide for myself and I had a 401k. I had health insurance. I had all of these things that are huge for us. I had told them that I was not gonna go back to that.
I knew that they weren’t going to be on board with that decision. They were so proud of the life I built for myself. They didn’t have to worry about me and in a sense, all we wanna do is bring comfort to our parents. We want to honor them. We don’t want them to worry about us more than they already do in the Latino culture. The worry is like extreme.
The time had finally come for me to get that freedom that I had honestly been trying to get for so long.
You love engaging with people. And in your business, I see a lot of collaboration.
Do you want to describe some of your collaborative takeoffs in either your flavors or the actual product?
I moved out to the Bay Area and I didn’t have anyone here with me other than the people I met along the way. When I brought De La Creamery into the world, there were other business owners who I feel really took me in as their family and uplifted and supported me and gave me things I didn’t have for my business.
One of the things that I’m doing is I make a spicy mole ice cream flavor. A local chef, Devon Gonzalez, I started buying his mole sauce. The exact sauce he uses for all of his savory food, has all the onions and garlic and chilis and chocolates and everything. We left it all in.
I blended it straight into the ice cream base that I made, and it became a mole ice cream.
My newest flavor is Coyotas and Cream, which has been a huge seller. I had never heard of Coyotas. They’re from Sonora, Mexico, and they’re like a empanada, like a cookie. It’s basically like a puff pastry and it’s full of guava jam and dulce de leche, a caramel goat milk . They are sourced from Tutuili, which is a local business in the East Bay, and Sophia is the owner. She had come to my pop-up and had given me some coyotas and, as soon as I bit into it, the first thought was, “this can be an ice cream”.
I love your story. I love that your brain is just on fire. I can feel it. I don’t know why it’s not melting the ice cream, I’m sure you came up with three different flavors while we’re talking, but give us your Top 5 flavors.
My five main flavors ares the Mexican chocolate, like an Abuelita. The Cafe de Olla, most of us probably know what a Cafe de Olla is, but it’s a coffee, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, brown sugar base. There is a Hibiscus sorbet. That one is rotating. I try to have Jamaica a lot during like, and winter. that is one of my favorites. Elote is a roasted sweet corn. I roast whole corn cobs over the huge industrial kitchen flame, blend that directly into the ice cream, and I swirl a Habanero lime jam throughout it to give it a little bit of a kick. It was so rough to make this flavor, and now it is like the biggest cult classic flavor that I could ever have thought of making.
So that is the de Creamery five piece lineup. Those are really the bread and butter for me.
Have you gone to Mexico to explore how ice cream is being done there?
I’ve only been to Mexico once, very briefly. It was on a trip, on a vacation. Most of our family is in the United States now. I barely speak Spanish. I just finish taking like professional Spanish courses. I would love to go and try ice cream in Mexico, just do a full business tour of ice cream in Mexico. That’s gonna be such a huge accomplishment for me when I’m able to go and do that for myself and for my business.
Have you ever thought about what would you like to see in your lifetime happen?
If you would’ve told me three years ago, this is where my life would be, you know, I would’ve said, “There’s no way”, or “That’s not who I am”. My brain grew like twice the size because I just kept like feeding it and feeding it more information.
I really am shocked with the route I’ve taken, and I’m very proud of that. My commitment to our culture and finding my own identity through this process has been rewarding and also scary. But, it’s taught me that I’m brave and I can be resilient and I’m capable of learning and growing. It makes me think that I’m gonna have a really good life of growth and experience, and that makes me really happy, like incredibly happy.
The hard part is a lot of people will know about Del La Creamery, but not a lot of people will know about Stephanie. And to be able to tell who I am and how I’ve got to this and how it’s affected my business is really such a pleasure to share. It is still important for people to know these are the roots that it was born in, and this is the person behind what is going on, and the intention. I do want people to know who I am as much as they can.
Stephanie De La Cruz is founder of De La Creamery ice Cream, creating small batches from scratch here in Oakland, California, inspired by her Mexican heritage. Cafe de Olla, Elote, and her very first, Horchata . There’s nothing she won’t try, and we’re not just talking ice cream.
Stephanie loves collaborating with the community food professionals to create an entirely new experience for all.
Follow Stephanie De La Cruz on her Instagram @DeLaCreamery to stay in step with her creative genius and the love she has for the comunidad.