As a born-and-bred New Orleanian, Rebecca Duckert’s favorite childhood treat was the snoball, the New Orleans version of shaved ice. After moving to New York in 2015, Rebecca realized that her hometown and her new home are inextricably linked as meccas for culture, music, history, and especially food. She wanted to bridge the fascination New Yorkers have with her hometown and her desire to share these special treats. In April 2016, Sweetface Snoballs was launched in New York at a weekly artisanal food market and, shortly after, nominated for a Vendy award for Best Dessert!
Tell us a little about how Sweetface Snoballs was created
Sweetface Snoballs was borne out of my own personal nostalgia for my hometown and the foods of my past. My previous professional experience had been in non-profits, museums, and hospitality, but I always had the entrepreneurial bug and wanted to venture into more creative pursuits. After moving to New York, and even throughout all my travels around the world, I realized the deep fascination people have with New Orleans and wanted to figure out a way to utilize that NOLA magic that I had been lucky enough to have with me my whole life. I always knew that that I wanted to work for myself, and figured there would be nothing better than to share my favorite childhood treat with NYC.
What is special about your product?
I like to start by saying that I am not “reinventing the wheel.” Snoballs are basically snow cones…but so much better. The machine model we use was invented and patented in New Orleans in 1936 and has been used by most of our snoball shops ever since. It is a heavy duty piece of machinery that creates the softest, fluffiest snow you will ever taste. The powdery texture of the ice is truly the biggest difference between a typical snow cone and snoball.
All syrups are hand made with pure cane sugar and filtered water. While we offer lots of classic fruit flavors, our specialty is the cream-based flavors that are very specific to New Orleans, like Nectar Cream, Pralines-n-Cream, Dreamsicle, Grasshopper, Wedding Cake, and Creme Soda. And no snoball would be complete without topping it off with sweetened condensed milk, to make even more decadent.
We are always experimenting with new flavors and sugar-free options. And if you are 21+, you can also spike yours to make a Boozy Snoball, which is always a big hit!
What recommendations do you have for other women trying to start a new business?
Really do your research when it comes to getting your endeavor funded, because there are tons of options. Create a solid business plan, utilize the many small business associations out there, and try to get funding that will have the least financial hit on you personally. I started my business in kind of a rush because snoballs are a warmer-weather treat and I was trying to beat the clock to debut in the spring, so I regret that I took out a small personal loan as opposed to applying for grants or low-interest small business loans.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next 12 months?
My focus at the moment is on private events, but I would love to do a semi-permanent pop-up next season, like a 4-5 month residency somewhere. Because this is such a seasonal business, I get to regroup and even reinvent the business each year, which is kind of special.
"Really do your research when it comes to getting your endeavor funded, because there are tons of options."BACK TO FOUNDATION