Many people ask us, “Why frozen yogurt?” Sometimes we wish we could tell everyone some quaint story about how yogurt has been in our family for generations and that we are the successors of a long line of yogurt-makers. But that’s not the truth. The truth is actually much better.
When we got married in 2008, we had no idea that by the end of our first year of marriage, we would already be in the throes of starting our own business, or that it would be in frozen yogurt, of all things!
In the summer of 2009, we took a trip to California where Marilyn is from (Alex is from Brazil). Marilyn grew up eating frozen yogurt at TCBY, but in Hawaii, they had yet to discover its goodness. We noticed how many self-serve frozen yogurt stores had opened there and thought Hawaii would fall in love with them. While we hatched our initial ideas, stores began opening all over the island and Yelp was full of people in Hawaii proclaiming their new-found love for this frozen treat. The market still had yet to reach the North Shore and we knew we had something good.
Thus began the long and arduous journey towards opening Ono Yo. The road was rough, delayed, scary, but exciting. Marilyn was an English teacher at the local high school and had to juggle teaching 100 graduating seniors, writing curriculum for the state of Hawaii, teaching an online course, writing a business plan, as well as managing the accounting, marketing, and organization of the business. It was hectic, to say the least. Alex eventually left his job as a North Shore farmer to devote himself to the start-up. He built out the entire truck, developed the yogurt recipe, called vendors, and painted tables (just to name a few of the many things he did). No job was off-limits! We threw ourselves into starting this business with total abandon and dedication.
When we finally opened our doors (serving window?) on November 11, 2010, we had no idea what to expect. We still had a lot of kinks to work through like how much of all the supplies we needed to buy and how exactly to operate the machines (small detail, really). We didn’t know how many boxes of strawberries, for example, we would go through in a day. We bought way too much, but it was a learning experience.
Since opening we have received great feedback from our customers. We have a lot of the students who come after school and from the local university, as well as many regulars we know by name. Tourists have come from all of the world: From Germany, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, France, India, and from the mainland. They always tells ushow amazing our yogurt is, which makes us feel so proud. We work really hard to provide excellent quality to our customers, so it’s great to hear how much they love it.
So why frozen yogurt? No, we don’t come from a long line of yogurt purveyors. We simply love frozen yogurt, live a healthy lifestyle, care deeply about putting quality, whole ingredients in our bodies, and we think it’s time that frozen yogurt companies do the same. People think they’re eating something healthy when they have frozen yogurt, but what they don’t know is that often times that frozen yogurt isn’t made with much yogurt, if any at all, and that the flavoring usually comes from syrups. We thought: if you want to make papaya yogurt, why not use real papayas? We decided to use real fruit and real Greek yogurt to make ours and it was the best decision we made. The result was naturally simple frozen yogurt with creamy goodness. We’ve also partnered with several local companies for our toppings. We use local granola, macadamia nuts, fruits, and fruit purees. We think it’s important to support local businesses in Hawaii for our environment and our local economy. We’re doing frozen yogurt the best way possible: with integrity, purity, and a dedication to our craft and customers.
Thank you to all our loyal Ono Yo fans and supporters; we can’t do this without you!