Frozen Success

Boasting more than 75 toppings and 16 flavors, Yogurtini has quickly become a frozen yogurt destination with the ingenuity of two young sisters. Photo by Lauren Melby.

Most locals have come to love the rows of dispensers and toppings at Yogurtini, the self-serve frozen yogurt concept with locations in Tempe, Scottsdale and Phoenix. But what truly makes the business stand out from its fro-yo fellows are the young entrepreneurs behind the fast-growing franchise.

Sisters Chelsey and Natasha Nelson lived in California when their mom was diagnosed with a degenerative terminal illness. They realized their biggest priority was being with her in Arizona, so they decided to move back home. In the Golden State, the sisters had developed an addiction to frozen yogurt. They quickly noticed Arizona lacked what they craved — frozen yogurt shops had not yet sprouted up like weeds in Phoenix neighborhoods.

“There were never the right flavors or toppings,” Chelsey says. “And even when there were toppings we wanted, they were pre-portioned by whoever was serving the yogurt.”

Chelsey graduated from ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College, in 2007 with a degree in economics. Natasha graduated from California’s Vanguard University in 1998 with a degree in business marketing.

They had the knowledge and resources to come up with a business plan and open their first store in May 2010.

“Natasha and I have always been very business-minded through setting up lemonade stands, our own personal libraries and office supply stores in our front yard since we were little girls,” Chelsey says. “I think we always knew we would end up going into business together someday.”

Chelsey and Natasha acted on a whim, but their success is apparent in the loyal following they’ve received after less than a year in business.

“Initially, we took out a personal loan to set up our shop in Tempe,” Chelsey says. “After our Tempe store was so successful, we started receiving a lot of attention. A lot of customers were asking how they could open their own Yogurtinis.”

Although the prosperity of the store is a huge achievement, their original vision was to create an atmosphere that offered exceptional yogurt and freedom for customers to create what they preferred.

“I think our store is fun and we are creating an experience.” Natasha says. “We are a little more sophisticated than some of the others, it is evident when you walk-in. But it is kid friendly too … we serve Fruit Loops and Pop Rocks. We have 16 flavors always rotating and over 75 toppings – including Sriracha hot sauce.”

Originality has played a vital role in Yogurtini’s continual growth and the two expect to see a lot more from the company within the next year.

“We have a national goal and are working with the right team to make it happen,” Natasha says. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see 50 to 100 Yogurtini’s in 12 to 16 months.”

Reach the reporter at mptanabe@asu.edu