They say that to build a successful business, you should start with your specialist skills, passion and knowledge, and harness those as the basis for a business that can grow. This is an approach being taken to the full by the talented Chef Naledi, a South African private chef and culinary instructor who is now helping others to build their knowledge and experience of cooking at home.
LoA found out more about this passionate chef entrepreneur this month….
What does your company do?
As Chef Naledi, I am a private chef and cooking instructor. I specialize in private chef services for intimate events, as well as offering cooking classes primarily to domestic workers. In addition to this, I also offer group cooking classes for small events such as baby and bridal showers.
"I specialize in private chef services for intimate events, as well as offering cooking classes primarily to domestic workers."
What inspired you to start your company?
A lot of women nowadays are busy but have a lot of hats that they wear. They are either career women or business women, mothers, and wives, or all of those roles. I am one of them and my friends too. Their days are always hectic but at the end of the day they need to ensure that their families are well fed. Not only do they worry about dinner preparation, but they also have to worry about the children’s lunch boxes. I decided to train my domestic worker during the first 2 weeks after she started working. This was in 2013. As I was training her, I realized that she was not only enjoying learning new cooking skills, but she was fulfilled as well. This proved to me that my family and I are not the only ones gaining from this approach, but the domestic worker as well. I was empowering her, on the job. She gained more confidence and started exploring new cooking techniques and recipes on her own. This inspired me to start providing cooking lessons as part of my business. I realized that it’s not that domestic workers do not enjoy cooking, rather that they do not have the basic knowledge nor the confidence to explore and prepare healthy well balanced meals.
What appealed more to my clients was the fact that I could conduct these lessons in the comfort of their own homes. They did not have to worry about getting their domestic worker to a training centre or culinary studio to learn these new cooking skills. In addition to this, I use utensils that are already at their disposal in their own kitchens. This means that the client will not necessarily have to go out and purchase new utensils or fancy gadgets. This also allows the domestic worker to cook similar meals for her family during her holidays.
"My service ensures that at least one of the many things that you worry about during the day has been taken care of. The family eats healthy, well balanced meals and the children also get to take healthy lunch boxes to school."
Why should anyone use your service or product?
My service ensures that at least one of the many things that you worry about during the day has been taken care of. The family eats healthy, well balanced meals and the children also get to take healthy lunch boxes to school. The convenience of conducting the lessons at the domestic worker’s place of work is a bonus as she will still be at home and you, as my client, will not have to worry about transporting her to my culinary studio.
A lot of people are looking for unique ways of celebrating bridal showers. Since I enjoy teaching people how to cook or improve their cooking skills, this new service satisfies that need to provide unique, fully catered showers. This service is also open for other celebrations such as intimate birthday celebrations, as well as just a girls night in
Tell us a little about your team
We are a team of 3 people. Myself, Chef Naledi, am the director of the company, head chef and cooking instructor. Chef Monique works on a part time basis and assists with a lot of the research. Lastly, there is a part time assistant who assists with general work, compiling recipe booklets, and acting as a kitchen assistant when necessary, but to name but a few roles.
"Do what you love and love what you do. That way, you will never have a single "working day" in your life."
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2012 after purchasing a pie shop. This was due to my unhappiness in the corporate space. I have always had a passion for cooking but was too weary to start a business. One day I woke up and submitted my resignation letter, and a month later I opened a pie shop. This gave me enough time to think about venturing into catering and events planning. 2013 saw me venture into this sector of business. I did this informally and only registered the catering company in 2014 due to the increase in demand for my services. In order for me to grow into the corporate catering space I needed to have a registered business. In the same year, 2014, I decided to close the pie shop as I was making huge losses. I no longer enjoyed the limited scope of the pie shop and the shopping complex rules that I had to abide to. In terms of my background, my first degree was a BA Social Sciences majoring in Sociology and Business Management. My vision was to change lives but in a human resources department in a big organisation. I never saw myself as an entrepreneur, therefore did not study anything that had to do with entrepreneurship. What I knew for sure was that I wanted to be able to empower people thus changing their lives.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I wish for this company to grow into a larger business servicing the nation at large. The company already offers cooking classes in Gaborone, Botswana bi-monthly for a week. I aspire to own a budget cookery school, based in Pretoria, South Africa, which will be affordable for the low income earning bracket, as well as domestic workers who wish to improve their kitchen skills in their spare time. The cookery school will also serve as a venue for the group lessons.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
I always get satisfied when at the end of the day I know I have empowered one person, but also helped someone improve their daily lives. This company serves to empower domestic workers, as well as improve their employers’ lives.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Learn to listen to the signs in order to follow your passion. Do what you love and love what you do. That way, you will never have a single "working day" in your life.
Contact or follow Chef Naledi
Why LoA loves it….
At LoA we always love to see women entrepreneurs who are turning passion into profit, and Chef Naledi is certainly one such example of how it can be done. She is a talented and passionate private chef who is passing on her considerable knowledge to others, empowering them to fulfill their own potential through cooking. She is an inspiration to so many other women entrepreneurs who are waiting to take the entrepreneurial leap and use their personal passions and talents for a business enterprise. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa