The first time I was at Natural Ice Cream, I was vowed by the amazing number of flavours that were available to us to try. I was a naive kid, and I just loved people who had established their very own businesses because it was a passion of theirs to eat. I am still the same. But the difference is that I now acknowledge that running a successful business doesn’t always mean that there are good days when all you do is talk about food. In fact, it seems that initially, one doesn’t get to do what they actually set out to do, yet it is important to persist. The story of Natural Ice Cream, established in 1984, is based on this simple truth. That is not to say that you have to always keep your head down and it’s all work and no play. 

The man behind the ice cream brand, Mr. Raghunandan Srinivas Kamath, followed the rule of having good ideas. While he learned aplenty from his own family about picking fruits, he spent most of his days frolicking around his home village and exploring the surroundings in Mulki, Karnataka. Meanwhile, Mr. Raghunandan’s brothers had been working at an eatery, Gokul Refreshments, in Mumbai, as the family didn’t have a steady source of income. Later, Mr. Raghunandan joined his brother, G.S Kamath who was 20 years his senior, to support the family. While working at the eatery in Mumbai, Mr. Raghunandan picked up the trends that were changing around ice cream. It was creamy and expensive but lacked a natural touch. Mr Raghunandan had a certain grasp of how high-quality and preservative-free food products were amiss from the city, and he knew that he had an unrivalled knowledge of fruit that could be leveraged. He suggested to his brothers that he wanted to create a better ice-cream culture in the eatery, which was inspired by the goodness of fruits. But the brothers refused.  

Nonetheless, Mr. Raghunandan persisted. He’d learned how to pick fruits. The love of plucking fruit, knowing the right time to use, seeing it turn into something delicious in his mother's kitchen and finally relishing the pure and divine goodness, drove him to do something more and use his knowledge for good. There were a lot of risks involved, as there was no such concept of an ice-cream parlour in the 1980s. Besides, who would come to eat ice cream only?

 So Mr. Raghunandan decided to sell pav bhaji along with ice cream. As more people would need something to curb the spiciness, they’d consider buying ice cream. Eventually, the idea succeeded. In his 400-square-foot store at Juhu Koliwada, ice cream production began. Mr. Raghunandan began to generate profit within a year. The ice-cream flavours moved beyond the classics. He incorporated flavours such as cashew raisin and custard apple. Even though he had earned somewhere between 5 to 6 lakhs in revenue which was a huge deal in the 1980s, Mr. Raghunandan did not achieve success overnight to create Natural Ice Cream. In fact, it was a long journey.

At the time, there were only five to six tables in the eatery. So this was an opportunity to grow bigger. Mr. Raghunandan directed all his efforts at selling high-quality ice cream, so he began to introduce flavours that no one had tried. The brand, Natural Ice Cream, makes extensive use of fruit.  Most of them came and went according to seasons. Moreover, the ice cream was always fresh. It was never stored for more than two days. With these changes, Mr. Raghunandan finally decided to stop selling pav bhaji, as he became more confident about selling his ice creams. Word reached Bollywood celebrities living in Mumbai, who often made suggestions based on what they’d eaten in other parts of the world.  

As more people supported the vision of Mr. Raghunandan besides his wife and family, to launch Natural Ice Cream, the outlets also expanded. Today, there are as many as 125 flavours of ice creams on the menu. The philosophy of serving high-quality ice cream remains at the core; thus the flavours are available as long as the fruit is in season. However, there are some flavours such as mango, tender coconut, cashew-raisin and roasted almond among others that are available year-round.  

Perhaps the businesses which have grown out of small ideas inspire the most because the fruit of labour and patience is always sweet!