Remixing the modern snoball with a New Orleans style twist: meet Courtney Tankersley, owner of SnoDreamz

Picture this: you walk into a snoball shop on a nice, summer day ready to get cooled off. You walk in and see the flamboyantly pink walls and the number of flavors for snoballs underneath the huge menu that seems to list everything: food like Dorito Pies, ramen with different toppings (like peanut butter, mackerel, sausage and chili) to snowball combinations with over 100 different flavors to choose from. The restaurant is neat and vibrant, and it feels like a fun place to relax and enjoy the warm weather bestowing the spring season, and you’re ready to delve into the interesting options offered.

Courtney Tankersley, the 37-year-old owner of Scott street’s SnoDreamz location in Houston, Texas, opened her shop with her mother in mind. Always seeing her mother create and implement ideas for her own snoball shop, Tankersley appreciated and admired her mother’s drive and decided to pursue her own entrepreneurship goals. “Just growing up, I watched her and saw her just being able to do her own thing and make her own hours,” she shared. Deciding to become a teacher as she had a passion for young children as well, she taught in Houston for ten years. She then traveled to South Korea and taught four years overseas. With free rent and expenses, she saved extra money for her future business. She then moved back to Houston, got married, and opened SnoDreamz, inspired by her parent’s own snoball shop. As a child, she enjoyed hanging out and helping run their business. While in high school, as her mother began getting sick, she realized she wanted to be an entrepreneur after seeing how her mother was able to delegate her business to other employees. “With my mom being an entrepreneur, I just always knew that I wanted to run my own business.”

Banana strawberry fluff flavored snoball.

Tankersley decided to bring New Orleans styled snoballs to Houston when she thought about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. “We wanted to bring something to Houston that the evacuees could relate to and feel like a sense of home.” Without a lot of New Orleans-styled snoball shops in Houston, Tankersley decided to take a risk and create her own. With her mom being from New Orleans, she took pride in making sure that the products she bought were imported straight from New Orleans itself. She wants all of the products to be an experience that reminds its customers of the sweet flavors of New Orleans.

Working with young employees is something that Tankersley loves about her job. She makes sure her jobs are available to young girls in school and those who need it, because she wants them to learn how to be better employees and that they can also be entrepreneurs. “I am a young black woman, I was 34 at the time, and I had children. So opening and running a business can be done.” She enjoys mentoring the young ladies and helping them better process life. “I feel like I’m a mother, a counselor, a big sister; I just really aim to help those young girls along the way.”

Tankersley posing in front of her massive menus listing snoballs, food and drinks.

Tankersley shares the SnoDreamz franchise with her sisters as well. To her, working with family is bittersweet, because she is working with people she can trust and that she can rely on. “But then on the flipside,” she began. “There are some people who take their family for granted or just expect them to do things just because you are family.” But for herself, she enjoys working with her family, because they are loyal and respect each other’s time, efforts and businesses. “My sisters and I do events together; like church events, school events, a lot of the festivals around the city,” she said. Although Tankersley has had to deal with break-ins, robberies, and employees with difficult personalities, she works hard on her own to make sure they are keeping their mother’s tradition of entrepreneurship alive. The biggest obstacle she has to face concerning her business is managing her employees. She is grateful and thankful for her employees, but they don’t always see the same vision she sees when it comes to her business. “They’re a lot of work, but I’m thankful to them,” she added.

Related: Salt n Sprinkles: Home of the Vegan Treats and Land of the Sweet Tooth

Polar Punch with strawberries.

As Tankersley is a mother of four children all under four-years-old, she has many hats to wear. She depends on God everyday for the strength to handle the everyday struggles, and she prioritizes praying and saying daily self-affirmations. She knows she won’t have much time for herself as her children are all very young, which she is ok with, because right now her aim is creating a better life for her and her babies. “For the most part, investing in them and seeing them grow makes me feel good. I’m ok with not being able to go and hang out with my friends all the time. I’ve lived my life, I’ve gone to college, I’ve travelled the world, so I’m ok with just working and raising my kids and seeing them excel.” She is an active mother involved in her children’s lives, as she sits down with them every afternoon after school and goes over more things they need to learn. She also thanks her husband as her number one supporter of her before and after opening her shop; “We met in Korea and who knew I would meet this guy and fall in love and then he’d help me with a business. God really finds ways to bless you.” She contributes her relationship to God as it helped nurture her into the entrepreneur she is today.

One thing Tankersley wants people to know about her business is that she loves New Orleans. As snoballs are famous in New Orleans, she makes sure that the flavors and even the ice used are authentic. The love for ice that New Orleans natives have may be strange and unaccounted for, but she knows the power that a good snoball cup can have on someone craving for the taste. “We have natural flavors. We have sugar free flavors. And we have food that you can’t just buy anywhere or get pulling up into a drive thru or going to a restaurant. We’re just a family that would love to see families come together and enjoy a sweet treat.”

Visit SnoDreamz on Instagram here.

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