A nostalgic idea turned into something bigger for Regina entrepreneur Daniela Mintenko.
“When I said to people I wanted to open an ice cream shop, people thought that I was crazy,” said Mintenko, who grew up in Colombia before moving to the Canadian prairies.
“I couldn’t think of any desserts that were quite as much a part of my culture as ice cream. A lot of people in the neighbourhood would make ice cream in our homes and share it with people in our community. I feel like I really wanted to bring that here.”
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Before her days of mixing and scooping, Mintenko attended John Casablanca Institute in Vancouver for fashion merchandising.
Feeling less than sweet on her career path, she turned to what made her happy: ice cream.
Mintenko first completed an Ice Cream 101 course in the department of food science at Penn State University, before getting her pastry arts diploma at the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver.
Returning to Regina with her husband, the 28-year-old opened Dandy’s Artisan Ice Cream on Albert Street in February 2019.
Dandy’s now employs 22 full-time and part-time workers, who create and sell the brand’s original ice cream using natural flavours and ingredients from local producers.
That includes making all the extra baked goods that are added into each scoop and pint.
“We bake our brownies, we cut them, we prepare all the bases for the ice cream in the morning,” she said.
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Mintenko credited the success of her small business to its evolving identity as a community spot.
“Any time of the day, any time of the year, you can come here to share good ice cream and good memories,” Mintenko said.
A month after its one-year anniversary, Dandy’s was forced to adjust its operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Mintenko said the business didn’t have to close its doors.
“We launched, actually, an online service, and a pickup service at the back of the store … It was more just adapting to the rules and making everything safe for everybody to still come to the store,” she said.
“It was a little bit difficult because obviously, people were afraid of having the challenge like that – something we had never encountered. So it was trying to take that leadership role and stay calm.”
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Mintenko described her leadership style as “flexible,” adding she enjoys working alongside staff — mostly post-secondary students — in a more collaborative way.
“It’s just more like a family, a group effort,” said Mintenko, who is working on design plans for a second location.
“It’s going to be a smaller store, we’re going to continue doing everything here and transport it to the new location. But we are so excited.”
The new Dandy’s is slated to open sometime in spring 2021, located in the city’s new east end neighbourhood of The Towns.
Mintenko said, as a leader, she is most inspired by her family members who made the move to Canada in pursuit of better opportunities.
“In Colombia, it’s very hard to get an education and succeed in different ways for so many different reasons,” she said.
“I feel that Saskatchewan definitely offers so many things for people to definitely push themselves and become better and, you know, make their dreams come true.”
Learn more about how Mintenko is Shaping Saskatchewan in the above video.