Inside the Totally Awesome Sweet Crush Ice Bar with Yael Lustmann

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We’ve got a crush on Sweet Crush. This amazing treat is pretty much revolutionizing the frozen dessert world in Los Angeles—no easy feat, since Angelenos have a bevy of choices when it comes to sweet ways to cool down. So it’s easy to see why Sweet Crush was your Totally Awesome pick for best cold treat in Los Angeles. Yael Lustmann, founder of this hotspot, recently took the time to chat with us about what makes Sweet Crush awesome, how to balance parenthood with entrepreneurship, and more. Read on:

Red Tricycle: Congratulations! Your community recently voted you “Most Awesome.” What do you think your customers value most about your business?

Yael Lustmann: That’s simple: a yummy and healthy dessert and a beautiful space in which to savor and enjoy it. Sweet Crush is a new take on shaved ice that offers a one-of-a-kind alternative to ice cream and frozen yogurt. Unlike other frozen desserts, we use only natural ingredients—no powders, syrups or other artificial ingredients. Our customers get to enjoy our unique product (the kids call it “paper ice cream” or “snow”) in a customized snowflake-themed space where alternating colored lights shine through perforated walls. The result is a perfect match between the design experience and the culinary experience.

RT: What inspired you to start your business?

YL: I got the entrepreneurial itch. I had worked for over a decade as a corporate lawyer.  But I had always aspired to build a new product from scratch. My kids love shaved ice but, as a mom, I had mixed feelings: it was drenched in artificial syrups. I always wondered why no one ever put the flavor in the ice. I decided that I would try do it. From that point, I went into innovation mode. I was convinced that I could come up with a contemporary version of traditional shaved ice that would offer a healthy low-cal alternative to ice cream but without sacrificing any of the taste.  It took nine months and the result is Sweet Crush. It is my fourth child!

RT: Any advice for new business owners just getting started?

YL: You need dedication, drive and even obsession. Starting a new business is certainly not a walk in the park.  I had a vision in my head of how the store and the product would look and I just believed in myself that I would somehow make it work. If you’re short on resources and under pressure, you know you’ve just got to come up with a solution–and most of the time, you do. But you should know that getting it started is just the beginning of a long journey to success. You have to want to make it work more than you are afraid of seeing it fail and put all that you have into it!

RT: Can you give us one tip for balancing entrepreneurship with parenthood?

YL: This is tough one because both kids and a new business require 100% of your time and there is only 100% of you to go around. Not sure that I mastered it but I definitely have gotten better at it. My solution, which works most of the time, is what I call the “switch mode.” Give 100% of yourself wherever you are and try and forget about the rest. When I am with my kids, I am 100% there. No phone, emails etc. When I am in work mode I am 100% there. The tough part is making the switch, sometimes in a matter of seconds. But…practice makes perfect.

RT: What is your proudest moment as a business owner or parent?

YL: I have a few. First, when the store was finished and I was there on my own for the first time and turned the lights on.  It was just as I had envisioned it. And it was something that I had built up from scratch. Second, when I was invited to serve Sweet Crush at the Governor’s Ball, the official dinner for the Oscar’s awards. And finally, whenever I get to introduce our product to a new customer, which thankfully happens every day. For a new business owner like myself, the expression on a satisfied customer’s face is the proudest moment of all.

RT: Is there a special offer you’d like to include for Red Tricycle readers?

YL: Come to Sweet Crush in November and enjoy 50% off your order of shaved ice Monday through Friday 4:00pm-7:00pm when you say “You are totally awesome” and like us on Facebook

Intrigued by Sweet Crush? Follow this Totally Awesome business on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.