Neema’s Kitchen is a venture which blends in hospitality and love for food in the right amount. Started by renting out her traditional bungalow as a homestay in Fort Cochin a place flocked by tourists Neema’s Kitchen is now offering experiential travelling for all her customers. Neema gives hands on cooking experience to her guests on Indian and Kerala recipes making their stay at her place memorable. She combines her passion for cooking, love for travelling and her flair for storytelling to create a unique experience for her guests.
Guests flock to her place from India and abroad and she has created a name for her in the homestay and hospitality industry. She also runs a YouTube channel showcasing her cookery skills and even plans to start an e book with her recipes. She also makes masalas and other food products for her guests to take the reminiscences of the flavour and taste back home.
Read about Neema and her kitchen and how she made her passion into a successful business.
How did you come up with this concept?
Breakfast served to my Guests at my homestay made them to ask, how did I prepare it? Then came the request, if I could provide them with dinner. It was only a matter of time before the next question came “Neema, can you teach us how to prepare these?” This gave rise to the concept of “Neema’s Kitchen”.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this starting Neema’s Kitchen?
After my marriage, I was sailing for 10 years around the globe with my husband who was Captain on Merchant Ships. My life at sea was fun & adventurous. It had given me a chance to explore the world, get to know about each country, language, culture and of course food. I stopped sailing in 2005, and it is then a tourist from Fort Kochi, after seeing my Heritage Property gave me an idea to run it as a homestay. In 2008, I started my homestay in the name of “The Bungalow Heritage Homestay ” in Vypin, Kochi.
While running the homestay my guests requested to teach them how to cook Indian / Kerala food. That inspired me to start “Neema’s Kitchen” along with my homestay where I teach the guests recipes and cook along with them.
Where is your venture based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
My venture is based in Fort Vypin, Kochi. I think this is the best place, as it’s just a five minutes ferry ride from tourist loved Fort Kochi.
What are the challenges you faced to run your business?
Marketing my venture was the biggest challenge I faced and I figured out that word of mouth is the best advertisement any business can have.
How has being a woman helped you in your business?
It has helped me a lot as there are lots of solo women & families travelling every year.
Do you have any competitors and how do you differentiate from them?
Every person is unique, so is their business. I believe, only I can give my unique personal touch to my business, which makes it different from others. Hence I don’t worry about competitors but I strive to compete with myself. This has worked well for me and has been helpful at various stages of business. Be open to criticism especially from your customers and use it to improve yourself.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
We stopped sailing when our daughter started going to school. So when I started my startup she was well settled in school, hence I didn’t face much issue with regards to work life balance.
How supportive was your family to run your venture?
They give me 100% support and encouragement. They are more enthusiastic about Neema’s Kitchen than me. They are also my correcting force. They criticize and correct me at each step.
What gets you excited about this?
I believe, every one of us has a unique God given talent which we are passionate about. When your passion becomes your business there is no looking back. Cooking is my passion and I love painting and storytelling. So when combined, it produces a good mix resonating in our tagline “A Food Symphony”.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
I conduct 2 cookery class sessions a day. Morning session starts at 10:30hrs ends by 13:00hrs. Afternoon session commences at 15:30hrs till 18:30hrs.
Do you have a team to help you out? If so how did you meet them?
It’s a one women army!!! Of course I have my parents and maids to help me but my best team mates are Almighty, my husband and my daughter….
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