Custom Raspas for a New Age

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Custom Raspas for a New Age

Ashley Vasquez and her husband tapped into popular culture and used social media to promote Iced Cube. (VBR)

Ashley Vasquez knows what it’s like to start small.

“We started with a shack,” Vasquez said of Iced Cube, the millennial-inspired version of a raspa stand she and her husband, Jonathan Segura, started in Elsa in June 2018. “It was the most humble beginnings you can think of.”

Iced Cube didn’t stay humble for long.

Tapping into pop culture, social media and offering flamboyant creations that transform old-school raspas into 21st century behemoths of ice, cookies, candies, fruits, hot Cheetos and other things just being discovered, Iced Cube has become a Rio Grande Valley sensation. Iced Cube raspas are a sight to behold – and they’re all over social media, which Vasquez said was all part of the plan.

Ice, cookies, candies and fruits are among the ingredients that make Iced Cube creations popular. (VBR)
Ice, cookies, candies and fruits are among the ingredients that make Iced Cube creations popular. (VBR)

“We didn’t want to be just another raspa stand,” she said. “We wanted to create something unusual that visually is a little crazy. We wanted to take something that is so traditional – raspas in the Valley – and put a new spin on it.”

Judging by the reaction of customers and a growing crowd of followers on social media (over 300 followers on Facebook alone), it appears that Vasquez and her husband can say mission accomplished. The couple hails from the Edcouch-Elsa area. They started Iced Cube in Elsa eight months ago as “something cool that we thought teens and kids in our community might enjoy.”

Vasquez, her husband and a single employee started out of what she called a shack. The stream of initial customers was steady and promising. Then a friend suggested they put photos of their raspas on Twitter. Vasquez described what happened next in what she said was the start of “this whole little movement.”

“It went viral overnight,” Vasquez said of the wonders of social media. “We went from four cars in the drive-through to lines of 40 to 60 cars. We had no idea of how much power it would have in such a short period of time.”

The shack in Elsa soon gave way to a house converted from residential to commercial to better accommodate Iced Cube’s rapidly growing customer base. Vasquez, who is 28 years old, said she was fascinated by how teens who flocked to their store used social media to spread the word about the new age raspas.

“I give them their raspa and the first thing they do is put it on Snapchat,” she said.

Iced Cube uses a build-your-own raspa concept in which customers choose the flavors, fruits and toppings they want for creations costing between $3 and $12. Vasquez said her husband has fine-tuned designs that turn raspas into creations that are not only visually appealing, but have the contents embedded in it, not like old-school snow cones where the flavoring is all on the top and the rest trickles down.

“He gets people in the door,” Vasquez said of her husband’s menu of raspa creations. “I’m the one that gets them to come back.”

An old residence in Elsa was converted transformed into the home base of Ice Cube, a fast-growing concern with two locations and plans for a third. (VBR)
An old residence in Elsa was converted transformed into the home base of Ice Cube, a fast-growing concern with two locations and plans for a third. (VBR)

The couple expanded out of their hometown area and opened a new location in a Mission plaza on Griffin Parkway three months ago. Vasquez has her eye on a third location. She hopes to have an Iced Cube open in Edinburg by year’s end.

“You can’t just rely on the hype,” she said of her business’ rapid growth. “There’s quality of product, customer service, and you have to look at your community. What is it lacking and is there something you that you yourself can do?”

Pausing for a moment after a blitz of excitement in talking about her business, Vasquez adds one final note on what it takes to be successful.

“Then you have to work your butt off,” she said.

Ricardo D. Cavazos is a journalist and business executive who has over 30 years of experience as a reporter, editor and publisher and is currently managing allied health schools in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo. Working for Freedom Communications, Cavazos served as editor of The Monitor for eight years and was publisher of The Brownsville Herald for 14 years. He also served as publisher of the Valley Morning Star for one year and launched two Spanish-language publications - El Nuevo Heraldo and El Extra. He is an Edinburg native currrently living in Harlingen.

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