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Thursday, 18 November 2021

My Morning Routine: Dara Ghosheh, founder of Dara’s Ice Cream

Dara Ghosheh, founder of Dara’s Ice Cream: Each week, My Morning Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Dara Ghosheh, founder of Dara’s Ice Cream (LinkedIn). Edited excerpts from our conversation:

My name is Dara Ghosheh. The most important things to know about me: I’m Palestinian, I have two boys, and I love to eat ice cream.

Because we are a startup, my day is very dynamic — no two days are identical. I arrange my day in the morning according to what’s on my plate. I usually wake up at 6am, or later if I stayed up. I just gave birth four months ago, so my sleep schedule isn’t exactly set in stone. I either wake up and play with my newborn, or (if I wake up early enough) send off my four-year-old to school. Then, once my newborn goes down for his nap, I head off to work.

I only take Fridays off — and sometimes end up working then, too. I visit my shops, all of which are in different areas, so it’s never a fixed routine. I also usually go to my factory in the 6 October industrial zone, and I have a weekly meeting with my store managers. I try to finish work around 4-5pm to spend time with my sons before I put them to bed by 8pm as they have a strict bedtime routine.

I still remember the moment I decided to launch Dara’s. I’ve always been obsessed with ice cream — I can eat it for every meal. Whenever I travel with my husband, we explore the best gelaterias in town. We once discovered an ice cream shop that I was extremely impressed with. I was trying to convince my husband to buy six flavors because I wanted to try them all and in Europe, they don't allow you to try before you buy. So he said, “Dara, if you're that obsessed, why don't you have your own shop?” And hence the idea was born.

I took a course and started to discover the world of ice cream and gelato in 2017. For the next two years, I started to experiment at home, save money and buy machines, with my husband’s help. He’s more business-minded than me but this was never a business for me. I love what I do and I do it for passion and fun.

I began testing so many different recipes. I burned the honeycomb maybe 50 times before I got it right to create our signature honeycomb flavor. It’s very difficult to introduce a new flavor because I always want to perfect it. Traveling a lot helps me with creating flavors, but the pandemic cut off that source of inspiration. I didn’t want to limit myself to the classic Italian way — I was more inspired by how ice cream is made in the US, which centers on creating an experience in your mouth. So it's all about different textures, different sauces and different flavors matching each other.

Covid-19 was a bit overwhelming because I couldn't go to work. But, it made us think of what we want to do and where we want to go. We worked on one of our biggest projects — launching pints at Gourmet, which my son actually worked on by helping us create designs.

There is a lack of quality and natural ingredients in ice cream. It’s not just in Egypt: In Europe, they more often use ready mixes and don’t have anything homemade. For me, I bake everything in my kitchen. That’s why I’m always experimenting with new items that are all handmade. There’s always room for improvement.

I think we created an ice cream hangout: It’s all about the experience. I always felt ice cream shops are not really a happy place. I am supposed to be going to eat the best thing in the world. I want to try different flavors, not just a speck on a tiny plastic spoon. So I created the experience with these details in mind. My goal is to make people happy — not only my customers, but my team, too. I want to make a difference in the market and in my community. I want to create jobs. I want to improve lives.

I watch one thing with my husband every day: We’re currently watching Squid Games like everyone else. I have mixed feelings about it. Usually I’m into this type of stuff; I love Black Mirror and find it very realistic. But this is just too much. I'm also watching Maid, which is about women and violence. It's really nice. When I want something chill, I honestly love watching Friends, even if I’ve watched it a hundred times.

I’m kind of late to the game but podcasts are my newest obsession. I’m interested in learning more about management and how to manage the team and the company. I’ve found podcasts to be a way to put my time to good use, so I often listen when I’m in the car. The last thing I listened to was Goal Digger, which often resonates with me.

I'm interested now all of a sudden in pilates. Since I don’t have a lot of down time, I started doing online pilates sessions twice a week. I used to work out five times a week. And now with two boys, it’s a mess. I don’t allow my kid to watch TV except twice a week. So while he's watching TV, I work out from 6 to 7pm. This is the time he watches TV and I do my workout.

The best two pieces of advice I've been given: My husband always tells me, “Dara, delegate. If you don't delegate, you'll crash.” I try to as much as I can, but honestly I’m not 100% effective at delegating. The second is more of a life lesson — my parents brought me up to be grateful for everything, kind, and down to earth.

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