My Brilliant Career: Proving healthy 'rabbit food' can be delicious too
Tell me about Nirmala Juice.
Nirmala is a Sanskrit word meaning pure. It shows our intention to provide 100% pure, cold-pressed juice that tastes delicious, making it less painful to enjoy healthy fruit and vegetable juice. Our customers say that Nirmala makes the best-tasting vegetable juices on the market. And we agree, because in our product development we spend a lot of time finding those two or three killer ingredients that will give each one of our juices its own unique and delicious flavour.
What role do you play at Nirmala Juice, and what do you do each day at work?
I am the founder, recipe developer and, for most of its history, the juicer extraordinaire. I still personally source the fruits and vegetables at the Tshwane fresh produce market, and respond to queries and online/e-mail and telephone orders. I still oversee the juice production. I also keep an eye on our juice bar kiosk in Menlyn Maine Central Square, in Pretoria, and I'm pretty hands-on there. I love to have a direct link to our customers.
What inspired you to found the company to begin with?
I was fortunate to travel around the US for three years, seeing the best holistic destination spas. I was able to see first-hand how juicing can heal and transform. I then began juicing for myself. After my travels, I got deeper into the juicing lifestyle and spent a lot of time developing new juice flavours and recipes for myself. It wasn't long before all my friends and family discovered my juices and started asking for their daily juices, too. I realised that juicing was a growing industry and that more and more people were looking for healthy but delicious alternatives.
What do you think is surprising about the work you do?
I am pleasantly surprised at how hungry the market is for great-tasting, healthy beverages. Everyone who sees our lists of ingredients and then tries our products is surprised by the taste. It seems healthy juices have a reputation for not tasting so good. It was surprising to discover how tired people are of consuming healthy "rabbit food".
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I have always wanted to be a healer of sorts - a herbalist is one that I remember most fondly.
I have always been attracted to the healing powers of nature and wanted to venture into the natural-healing industry.
What is the best career advice you have ever received, and who gave it to you?
The due diligence we went through as part of our application process for the funding from Coca-Cola Beverages SA (CCBSA) was a real eye-opener.
We were fortunate to participate in planning sessions with CCBSA's consultants and market specialists, during which we interrogated our business plans. The process was very affirming because the specialists were excited about our products and their potential in the market.
But also, we got some useful feedback that helped us to plan and sequence our growth strategy better.
Because of their advice, we realised the risk in trying to achieve all our goals at once. We now have a pretty clear long-term plan, and we are quite methodical in how we are trying to get there.