Today we’d like to introduce you to Ola Kayal.
Ola, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Nabati was my project in culinary school about four years ago. We had to develop a product and mine was raw vegan ice cream, however back then no one saw the need for vegan ice cream. In March 2018 I was in Miami for my mom’s birthday and met with one of my father’s friends from college, who has a construction company in Miami. We talked about my job and how I was working in London in a Vegan restaurant as a sous-chef at the time. He did not know what “vegan” meant, and he asked if I could make some vegan ice cream for him to taste. So I did, and I showed him my school project, and he convinced me that Miami was a great opportunity for that.
I went back to my job and I couldn’t get that conversation out of my head, so I did some research and noticed how there was no fully plant-based ice cream in Miami – a city where every season is ice cream season! Shortly after, I quit my job, packed a bag, moved to Miami. I got my permit approved in March 2019, and Nabati officially opened in August. It has been the toughest journey of my life, so far. Every day is a challenge but it is a great feeling to be able to bring a school project to life and to have a brand that is sustainable and healthy. Nabati is not your typical ice cream shop!
Other than being completely plant-based, we are also gluten, soy and refined sugar free! We are completely organic and prepare everything from scratch on location. We are also the first zero-waste ice cream shop offering a 5% discount for people who bring their own container. We are saving the world one scoop at a time!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Creating a brand is always a challenge, especially when we’re redefining people’s favorite frozen dessert: ice cream. We are educating people on why plant-based ice cream is healthier and better for one’s health and the environment, and how using only natural sweeteners such as dates, maple syrup and coconut sugar gives the ice cream a different taste and feel to the common refined sugar. Not using any gums, stabilizers or emulsifiers was also a great challenge. Through trial and error, I managed to come up with a great formula, and some people prefer that over regular ice cream.
Being plastic-free and ensuring that everyone that works at Nabati follows the brand’s spirit and mission is hard. Especially here in Miami where plastic is everywhere and veganism is just starting to become recognisable. Quality employees that belief in the mission is an everyday challenge.
Starting Nabati was particularly hard on me as I am a woman under 30 running the show alone. I developed the entire concept, all of the recipes, built the shop, trained employees and done all of that in a brand new city – a place where I don’t know many people, far away from everyone and everything I know.
I saw a great opportunity and moved across the world to accomplish my dream. Starting a business is already hard, but starting one alone in a brand new environment with little support was 10x harder… But then again I love a challenge!
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Nabati – what should we know?
Nabati (Na-ba-tee), which means plant-based in Arabic, is not your typical ice cream shop. We offer 18 revolving flavours, all made from scratch in-house with an open kitchen. All the flavours are plant-based, gluten, soy and sugar-free, with no gums, stabilisers, or preservatives. The shop is completely plastic-free. We also offer homemade freshly baked cones, sauces like salted caramel and chocolate, and toppings like homemade granola and roasted nuts. Some favorite flavours are the Golden scoop (ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and coconut cookie), Shnickers (our take on Snickers, but better) and six nut-free options like Pitango (pitaya and mango) and Banana pie.
Other than ice cream Nabati serves coffee served with homemade milks (roasted almond and coconut), milkshakes, B’olas (smoothie bowls), smoothies, homemade desserts and cakes of the day. Everything is made from scratch with organic ingredients and we compost to Back2Earth. Guilt-free desserts is our speciality but we don’t just satisfy the sweet tooth. Nabati is spreading an environmental awareness by being plastic-free and offering a 5% discount if you bring your own container.
We also offer a CBD water machine, together with filtered still and sparkling water. We often collaborate with local artists for in-store pop-ups and events. Being recognised by PETA for being the first plant-based plastic-free shop was definitely a proud moment. Turning a school project into a real life business with my very own creations is a dream come true.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My parents and family for their constant support and belief in me. For giving me the opportunity to get the education and tools I needed to get to where I am today.
The Kalkavans, for showing me the opportunity in the Miami market, building the shop, helping me open, and of course for opening their home to me and make me feel at home even though I am far away from my real home. Nabati actually started in their kitchen! And finally my friends for their constant support, motivation and bringing me up when I’m freaking out!
- $6.50 for one scoop, $9.50 for two scoops, $11.50 for three scoops
- $1.50 for each topping
- $2 for one cone
- $5 for bakery items
- Address: 317 NW 25th street
- Website: www.nabatiicecream.
- Email: Ola@nabatisuperfoods.
- Instagram: nabatiicecream
- Facebook: Nabati Plant-Based Ice Cream