Staying in touch from our couch to yours #thepowerofsmall
This family business Nureesa Eats, had their debut at The Linden Market Christmas Edition 2019… Dreaming big about having their own food truck, they did not let the Lockdown get them down. This tight family unit has great plans for the future, including creating their own app for home deliveries, but also to use the tech at markets…
TLM: Please tell us a bit more about who you are as well as your business?
Natasha: I’m Natasha, I’m the Mum in the business
Nuria: I’m Nuria, I’m the daughter
Eesa: I’m Eesa, I’m the son. We work together – Mum’s always right and Mum is in charge.
Natasha: That’s why we work well together, because they remember that… LOL. The name of our business is Nureesa Eats. It’s a combination of Eesa and Nuria’s names. We struggled to come up with a name and eventually we decided to combine their names – it works and that’s how Nureesa was born.
TLM: So what is it that you do?
Natasha: This journey actually started 10 years ago for me. I love connecting with people – it’s always been about the connection for me in whatever career I was in. And then in 2007 we moved to Saudi Arabia because my husband got a job there. Women weren’t allowed to work there at that stage, so I became a stay-at-home mom. The kids became my occupation and my career. I was missing the connection with other people and trying to find that connection I started cooking, because they don’t have any “tuisnywerheids” there, so I had to make all those things from scratch. I had to teach myself. All the takeaways that we have over here and that we missed… I had to teach myself to make it. My cooking journey started there, because before that I was all about convenience.
We then came back to South Africa after a couple of years. My husband stayed over there, so I was still a stay-at-home mom, taking care of the kids and I still didn’t have that connection that I used to have in my job. So, I started entertaining family. We used to have lots of family get togethers and with the extended family, it’s like a hundred people. So there was a lot of cooking and connecting and everybody asked when I was going to start catering – but I just never got there.
When the food truck industry started booming in South Africa, I thought that’s what I want to do. I never really got there, because I thought it’s so expensive and I just kept it on the back burner for a while. Then last year I decided this is it, we have to do something. I still didn’t have the money but let’s start small, let’s start with a market. Let’s get our food out there and test it and see what works and then eventually we will get to a food truck. And then we ended up at The Linden Market which was our debut market. We really really loved it.
TLM: (Asking the kids) What are your roles in the business?
Natasha: (Talking about Nuria) She gave herself a title… LOL
Nuria: I’m the COO. I handle the logistics like the marketing, keeping peace amongst the trio…
Natasha: That’s very important – that’s her most important job.
Nuria: When we are at the markets, my mother does the cooking, my brother takes the orders, I put everything together. That’s our system.
Natasha: She’s our chief co-ordinator. She keeps Eesa and I on the straight and narrow.
Eesa: I’m the chief information officer. I gave myself a title too. And the CFO. I handle the money at the front desk. And in terms of the cooking aspect, I’d say I’m Gordon Ramsey without the cooking. I make sure Nuria’s packing… “Mum I’ve got 5 orders for chips!”, “Hurry hurry hurry”. So I’m Gordon Ramsey without the profanity, because it’s still my mom and my sister… And I’m the muscle, so everything at the Linden Market I have to carry…
Natasha: That’s why we have to get that food truck.
TLM: We are finally in Phase 3 of Lockdown… but what was you mindset like during Phase 5 of hard Lockdown? What did you do to keep yourselves busy and what was going through your minds during that stage?
Natasha: For me it was really tough, because our main business is markets and catering at small events. Our business came to a complete standstill. That’s where I realised we need an online presence, we need to have some kind of e-commerce setup. I found a business summit online – it was designed by The Real Entrepreneur. And from there I knew I had to get comfortable with Social Media, I needed to get tech savvy because that’s what my kids are. But I couldn’t just leave all of that on them because I am the driving force of the business and the plans, so I needed to get comfortable with that.
Nuria: I am a student in varsity at the moment – this was the most stressful time of my life. Because everything was up in the air. How are we going to study? My anxiety was through the roof.
Eesa: What did I do? So a little back story from the early 2000’s. I studied IT Software development. So I felt it upon myself to bring in the IT aspect. So when my mother approached me about the online presence I took it upon myself to do that. One of the courses that I studied, was app development. So recently what I’ve been doing in Lockdown, I’ve been doing all my research. Theres an online course that I registered for on app development. So after Lockdown I will have our app up and running. It’s an adapted one where clients can order at the markets themselves, they can pay online and also for a food delivery system. We want to adapt the business so that we are never in this predicament again where our business comes to a standstill. And we all do our part – each one of us bring a unique aspect to the business to make it work.
Natasha: It’s also for their future. We all know entrepreneurship is key right now. There is no job security, so you can’t count on being in a big corporate, it’s great if Eesa can develop that app for his own little business and his future.
TLM: Are you currently selling anything online yet?
Natasha: No not yet. Like I said, I did the online summit – everyday the whole day for so many weeks. Now it’s about consolidating that information, getting our action plan together for going forward and actually taking action from what we learnt.
TLM: What do you not miss from before Lockdown?
Natasha: You know the term helicopter mom? That’s not me… I’m a drone mom… I come in closer. “Where you going? What time are you going to be home?” They have to check in with me all the time… It was such a relief that they were at home… I knew where they were. That was less tress for me. Once they start venturing out again that stress will come back.
TLM: Was there any epiphanies that came to you during Lockdown that will change your life going forward?
Natasha: I’m a hugger. I love hugging people. The other day I went shopping and I bumped into one of my friends and we both came in for a hug, but we had to stop ourselves. You do things spontaneously and instinctively and now you have to step back and think about it… even after Lockdown Corona is still going to be there, so we will have to be careful for a while. The other thing is gratitude and appreciation. There’s so many things that we took for granted before Lockdown that came to light and came to the fore that we just need to be grateful for…
Eesa: Definitely on the lines of gratification… the epiphany that I had was the same as I mother – conscious interacting with people. The fact that we can still interact with each other like right now – the interaction doesn’t change, it’s just the way we interact has changed. I may not be able to hug you or shake your hand, but I can verbalise it. I’m grateful for the technological aspect because if this happened back in the sixties we wouldn’t be able to do this. Also how fortunate we are always in terms of the the shelter that we do have, the food in our bellies and so forth, but I’m more grateful because I studied IT and I have a passion for it, is we can do this… we can connect this way.
TLM: What piece of hope or advice can you give to other small business owners during this time?
Natasha: In the beginning when Lockdown happened, for those of us who weren’t essential and weren’t allowed to trade, were also tempted to go out and say “let’s sell masks, let’s do this that’s Covid related”, that wasn’t necessarily our core business because that where the opportunities out there. Now that we are in level 3 and the restrictions are being lowered it’s about remembering why you started. It’s about going back to the back the basics and the roots that your business is all about. Let that be your driving force going forward. We all just got lost in this big new market that is opening – let’s get our market share in there… but now it’s about pulling back, saying this is me, this is what I want to be doing and this is the value that I want to add. Focus on that. Because that’s sustainable and what’s going to drive us and give us the most satisfaction in running our businesses. And then we just need to stick together and collaborate and help each other out.