The interview was transcribed and adapted into an article by Agapi Yang
Lockdown Economy: Interviews by think tank AlterContacts.org with real entrepreneurs sharing insights, challenges and successes during the COVID19 global pandemic to inspire, motivate and encourage other entrepreneurs around the world.
In this interview, we meet Priti Bali, the founder of The Earth Kitchen, a brand engaged in hand-making organic and artisanal dips, dressings and assortments in India. We spoke about the following one’s passion, as Priti did with her new venture “The Earth Kitchen”, and the central role nutrition and promoting healthy eating has played in her life. The lockdown was a massive blow to her catering business. It, however, sparked a new fire in her to view it as an opportunity to start The Earth Kitchen. The freshness of her produce, the healthy alternatives adopted to make it as clean as possible, and with new trends surrounding organic eating — Priti has been able to position herself well in a niche market. She says that it is all about providing a standard to your customers and that there’s enough space for everyone to thrive. Her outlook and projections for the coming few months is to increase her product line as well as visibility, especially in terms of making one’s presence felt!
What do you do as a business?
Priti: At the moment I am running a venture of organic lines of dips, dressings and condiments and it’s called Earth Kitchen. Before I was in institutional catering and I had 42 employees and used to run seven school cafeterias in Deli. It was a very successful venture but everything came to hold due to covid and it affected us extremely. It was a big jolt but it was also an opportunity that gave me the chance to work on the current project, which was always my dream. As I am dealing with children nutrition plays a very important role. So I wanted to work on the organic line and that’s what I have started.
How would you say that the lockdown and pandemic affected your business? What were the key challenges that you faced?
Priti: Well we were eating away our savings every day so it was a massive blow. Running the business was a day to day work that just came to a hold. Initially, I thought that it was a matter of a month or two and then things would be fine and we would be back in action. Slowly but steadily it started seeping in that it’s not going to go away and the anxiety was there. But then again I had to get my head together and think about something that I need to do, venturing into something that I have always wanted to do and create something new. I had twenty-two ladies working with me and I wanted to see how I can help them and how I can help myself. It was definitely a big jolt.
When did you realize that you wanted to start a kitchen?
Priti: Sometime in August-September when the things didn’t look good. I am a passionate cook and I love to cook. Initially, I started with some culinary classes but then I said I need to do something about it. I can’t sit idle and I wanted to do this project that was so dear to my heart. I started my trials, cost takeouts and doing experiments in my own kitchen, and by the end of October, I launched it.
What were the new techniques and ways you used to stimulate the business and attract customers?
Priti: The latest trend is social media. We all know that they play an important role but I was never into it. Because when you are dealing with schools and children you are one to one, you are not on a digital platform. We started promoting via Instagram and Facebook and slowly but steadily by the month of December my website came about. It’s something new that I am learning. So now I’m there making my presence felt.
How would you say your customers and competition are doing?
Priti: I am a conscious eater so I would like my customers to feel that they are getting something. So when they get and taste my product I am sure they will know the difference between a product from the market versus my product. First of all, my most important rule is buying directly from the farmer. I do not buy it and stock it in the fridge. I always make my orders fresh. So the customer can feel the freshness and the healthy part of it. There’s a niche, it’s the trend to eat clean and eat good, so in regards to competition, I think there’s space. Once you start providing some kind of standard to your customer the competition is well taken care of.
How is the business doing now and what are the plans for the next coming few months?
Priti: The business just started picking up, it’s just a three-month-old baby. I am still stepping in, trying to make my presence felt in the market also taking part in organic markets at the moment. For the next few months, my plan is to increase the products. I started with twenty products and now I have twenty-five. I am planning to make trials on new projects. Most importantly I want my presence to be felt, to be more visible in the market.
Lastly, would you like to share three areas that you need the most help with?
Priti: For any business I’d say, I feel cashflow is the most important so that’s one. Second, it’s my passion to tell people to eat clean. It’s something where I want to focus on and spread the awareness of eating good and healthy food. The term organic doesn’t mean that you are getting expensive stuff. It’s not necessary. But some people think that if something is organic it’s expensive. You just need to train yourself to eat clean and eat well. So that is something I want to work on. The third, is to be more visible and create more market for myself.
About the Guest
The Earth Kitchen is a brand engaged in hand-making organic and artisanal dips, dressings and assortments. Through the brand, we support local farmers and women by giving them the opportunity to contribute and be self-reliant. Two decades back our founder, Priti Bali decided to take her love for cooking out of her kitchen and started catering institutionally, driven to satiate people through her culinary creations. From being awarded “Best Chef In Delhi” in 2001 to inspiring many through her MasterChef India journey in 2014, she is now ready to take her legacy forward with “The Earth Kitchen”. Bringing a plethora of flavourful products that help you channelise your undying love for food in a pure, earthy and organic healthy way.
M: +91 9311211929