BY SHARON SCOTT MCCANN
When Naomi Posner-Horie moved to Bloomington in 2003, it was to support her daughter Natasha’s interest in pursuing music studies at Indiana University. “Natasha is the only reason we came to Bloomington, and it seemed a good, safe place for my two younger daughters, too,” Posner-Horie says.
Now Posner-Horie is the founder of Mami’s Gelato, a Bloomington-based company that wholesales dairy-free frozen desserts, dessert mixes, and drink mixes around the country.
Posner-Horie’s background is in computers; she worked in systems management while raising her family in Japan. But after moving to Bloomington, she met her future husband, Victor Varela, and the two decided to open a Mexican restaurant. Their plans changed when they learned Falafels Middle Eastern Grill would be closing, and in 2008 they took over the restaurant.
As a restaurateur, Posner-Horie, 55, realized many of her customers were vegetarian, vegan, or lactose intolerant. That served as her motivation to develop a dairy-free dessert.
Mami’s (pronounced Mommy’s) began in 2014. Nate O’Donnell, vice president of sales and marketing, says Posner-Horie really is “the mom of Mami’s.” He should know—he’s her son-in-law, married to her daughter, Natasha Komoda.
Posner-Horie says it took months of experimenting to achieve the “perfect balance of both soft and cold.” Using fresh, natural, quality ingredients, she says, she developed a dense, coconut-based vegan gelato mix that requires only the addition of water. “The goal is to make a vegan product that is not only easy to make, but also more mainstream,” O’Donnell says.
The wholesale business now contracts manufacturers to make most of the products, and the number of products is increasing. In addition to gelato, Mami’s has developed a separate mix for soft-serve machines, a line of hot drink mixes called Sippablz, and bubble tea mixes. The soft serve and gelato mixes are sold to retail outlets across the country, including ice cream shops, corporate cafeterias, and restaurants.
Mami’s Gelato is available locally at Bloomingfoods West and Lucky’s Market, as well as at Falafels. For more information, visit mamisgelato.com.