SPINNEYS MAGAZINE | Women in food: Nisha Ramisetty, co-founder Naksha Collections

March 07, 2022

SPINNEYS MAGAZINE | 7 MARCH 2022 | Turning the challenges of the pandemic into an opportunity, Nisha Ramisetty is bringing the world closer together with her travel-inspired recipe kits.

You started your career at Goldman Sachs, did a stint at Google and finally held an events director position at Dubai World Trade Centre before venturing into the world of chef-curated recipe kits. What made you jump from finance and tech to food?

It all happened organically. From early on in my career, despite enjoying my previous jobs, I knew I would rather be involved with something creative and that there had to be more out there for me. I wanted to be an entrepreneur and leave a legacy. The catalyst however was Covid. Feelings of wanting to go on my own were heightened and we were stuck at home, so my partner Sam and I spent time cooking food from all over the world. Travelling to weird and whacky places, tasting different cuisines and meeting chefs is a great passion of ours. We travelled from our kitchen to handle not being able to get out and explore. With each meal, we found ourselves with leftover ingredients, so we started sharing these along with recipes for the dishes with our friends. We saw a demand, which led to the idea of creating chef-curated recipe kits. As luck would have it, at the same time, I heard about the Spinneys Local Business Incubator Programme on the radio. So, we took our chances, sent in a pitch and won! We’ve just launched our fourth collection and sell at Spinneys and Waitrose.

You took quite a risk – is doing so something you’d advise anyone wanting to start their own business?

I’d say be prepared to take risks, but evaluate them before jumping in. Be clear of your intentions from the start and look at the pros and cons of what you could be getting yourself into. Assess your support systems because we all need some sort of backup or assistance, be it anything from financial to emotional help. We were fortunate to have the support of the Local Business Incubator – as well as that of our families at the beginning.

Your business partner is also your life partner – how do you balance your relationship and business?

Sam has a full-time job, so he’s involved, but I run and manage the day-to-day operations. I’m not going to pretend everything is perfect – as a couple, and as business partners, we squabble over a lot! But, we also couldn’t imagine not doing what we do and we’re so fortunate to be able to trust and support each other. Sam is cerebral and articulate, while I’m the one with business acumen. Together we’re both good at and enjoy anything creative – that’s when we really come together.

Your packaging design always includes beautiful and bespoke artwork. How do you go about choosing the artists from the countries you’re showcasing in your recipes? And why is this a focus?

Both Sam and I love art. I grew up surrounded by it as all the women in my family are artists, in some shape or form and I sketch and paint, too. We knew that including artwork on our packaging would set us apart. We seek out up-and-coming as well as award-winning artists, one of whom has happened to also be a friend. We’ve consciously tried to showcase female artists, too. I really enjoy working with women – I think there’s spirit. And things get done!

 Are there any women in business whom you see as mentors, or look up to?

On a global scale, Indra Nooyi, the former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo inspires me. I’m from Hyderabad, but grew up in the US and it’s encouraging to see more and more women of South Asian descent in leadership positions across business sectors in the west. In the UAE, I appreciate the support from Kunwal from Moreish by K, Zahra Abdalla, Mel from Curious Elephant, Kanika Hughes from Leelas Lunches, Lidija Abughazaleh of Lidija’s Kitchen and Nivedita from Chili Date. Most women in the local food industry are nurturing; we understand that we’re all growing together.

What’s the future of Naksha Collections?

We’re looking to expand internationally. Our concept has won a place in the London School of Economics’ LSE Generate Accelerator programme, so the UK market is where we will start. We’d love to be involved with experiences – where food, travel, art and music all play a part. Yes, we allow the people in the UAE to explore through our recipe kits, but imagine if this was taken to the next level? I’d like to launch a co-working space for women in the UAE food industry. Whatever the future holds, I want to be one of those brands that supports new players coming in.

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