Kavita Anand earned the many hats she wears by striving to succeed. Besides ‘Mum’, ‘Wife’, ‘Lawyer’, ‘Sports & Cultural Coordinator’ and ‘Accounts Administrator’, the latest addition to her collection bears the title ‘Entrepenuer’ and there is no limit to her ambition.
A little over three years ago Kavita launched the label ‘Kavita’s Kitchen’ after completing the Certificate in Small Business and Project Management course in Wellington. Today her delectable curry pastes can be found in a handful of supermarkets and artisan food stores around the city, with the vision to go international.
“I have big dreams and desires. I am expecting to hit all the New World stores and artisan stores. One day it will be exported and maybe available on Amazon – who knows?! I’m keen to see where this goes,” says Kavita.
Although returning to study posed some challenges in terms of juggling kids, household and assignments, Kavita was determined to harness some business acumen before embarking on her aspirational project. Te Wānanga o Aotearoa delivered exactly what she needed and Kavita says kaiako Mike Horlor was a big factor in reaping the benefits of the course.
“I also loved the culturally inclusive way Te Wānanga does things. I had never studied in New Zealand before and going to an educational establishment that held strongly to values I recognised made returning to study a whole lot more comfortable,” Kavita adds.
“Mike was highly supportive, nonjudgemental and provided all the required resources. He always went the extra mile to make sure all the content was well understood and relevant to each person’s business plan,”she says.
Inspiration for Kavita’s Kitchen came from her childhood and seeing the need for a quick and easy dinner solution for working parents. Being of Indian descent growing up in food havens Singapore and Malaysia, curries were a mainstay on the menu in Kavita’s home. She soaked in all the knowledge she could and by the time she was a teenager, was a curry connoiseur.
"You could smell the curry cooking down the street. I used to run off the school bus, race my brother home, and sneak into the kitchen to steal a spoonful or two straight from the pot. My grandmother never had a clue,” Kavita laughs.
“I learned a lot in those years, cooking with my grandmother. When I became a mom I started wondering how she had done it, or how other working moms managed it all. Cooking a curry from scratch is no quick process. The spices have to blend and be cooked slowly to allow flavours to intensify and balance out – so how did my grandmother manage to pull it together so quickly?”
Kavita recalls that the secret was having the pastes at the ready and so began doing this in her home – slow cooking her own blend of spices and herbs to store away for when she needed a dish on the table in a matter of minutes.
Transforming the lifestyle hack into a business idea happened organically when Kavita realised there was market demand in the New Zealand community she found herself living in years later.
“It started with ‘surprise-in-a-box Fridays’. I would dish out curry into take-away boxes and people just chipped in to cover the costs. Friends and colleagues asked for recipes, but I offered an alternative – a supply of pastes for them to create their own magic in the kitchen,” says Kavita.
Before long, Kavita was running a little enterprise and while sitting for a job interview one day, it dawned on her that she didn’t really want the job – she wanted to be her own boss! When the ad for TWoA business course popped up in her news feed, she jumped at the opportunity. Kavita says the study workload is manageable and the resources remain relevant while you are running your business.
“The best thing was that it was practical and hands on. The resources are great – I still refer to them sometimes, especially the section on sustainability as it’s on trend and a hot topic,” says Kavita.
As far as advice for those thinking of doing the course, Kavita says it’s important to be open to new things and be confident in the support kaiako have to offer.