I'm by no means an expert and I'm still very much at the early stages of launching my business but I'm happy to talk to anyone about the emotional struggle they face or anything else they think I could help with!
Rekha left her role as Buying Manager at the world's largest e-tail giant, Amazon, to start a project a little closer to her heart... an Indian-inspired bakery. She wanted to show that there was more to Indian sweets and desserts than than is currently being offered and saw a gap in the market for a new luxury brand to step in and set up http://www.pistachiorose.co.uk/#" rel="nofollow">Pistachio Rose Baking Boutique.
I'm by no means an expert and I'm still very much at the early stages of launching my business, but I'm happy to talk to anyone about the emotional struggle they might face or anything else they think I could help with!
I spent the first couple of months of this year road testing recipes on friends of friends and really coming to terms with the idea that I was going to give it a shot.
I was also working part-time for a tech start-up which allowed me to ease into it - it's a huge thing to take on, especially when you're giving up stability and a salary, and launching into an industry that you have no experience in!
I have attended several food markets to test the concept, branding and products, and feedback was great so that gave me the confidence to carry it forward and launch a retail brand.
I've since been working on packaging, logistics, forecasting production times and scales to calculate costs, trying to build up a following without spending my life on Twitter (easier said than done!), learning about how to create a brand image and how to market myself.
I've pitched to some of my target retailers with some more meetings in the pipeline and I'm trying to secure a regular market spot.
My background was in retail buying so I spent 18 months at Waitrose at the start of my career, followed by 4 and a half years at Amazon. They couldn't be more opposite organisations to work for but I learnt a lot from them both.
I took a bit of a leap joining Amazon as a junior buyer but it was the best thing I could have done as I was given a lot of responsibility early on which allowed me to learn and develop at a much quicker rate than I would have been able to elsewhere. I was given a bigger category to manage within a year and promoted to senior buyer the following year.
I'd always had an image of moving back to the food industry once I'd established myself as an experienced buyer, but the fast pace and recognition at Amazon were hard to give up.
The move into my last role at Amazon was incredibly challenging and made me realise that management isn't necessarily the natural transition for everyone.
I was unhappy for quite a few months but didn't feel like I could leave as I was new in the role and it would look bad on my CV. I also didn't want to feel like a failure for not seeing the new role out and taking it on to success but it got to the point where I was barely sleeping 4 hours each night, I wasn't eating much and felt physically sick with stress.
Outside of work, some really close friends went through some life-changing experiences which had quite a big effect on me and made me realise that you only get one chance and I needed to make the most of it.
It took me 6 months to reach the decision and another month to physically type my resignation letter but once I had it in my hand, I literally danced around my flat with it and felt like a huge weight had been lifted.
At the time I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life but I knew I needed change and a more positive lifestyle. I flew out to India 2 weeks after leaving for a family wedding and decided to stay for 6 months.
I knew then I wanted to get into food and I wanted to make a difference to the way we understand and enjoy Indian food in the UK. I filled up notepads with menu and business ideas, all the while thinking about how I could differentiate myself from the competition.
Back in the UK, I did some work experience in a successful deli to understand more about the operational set and financial structure to see if that was the route I wanted to take. I attended lots of networking events including the Escape meet-ups and other talks to try to meet others who could offer practical advice on where to start.
I've always been a saver and had a rainy day pot that was waiting for me when I got back to allow me to work unpaid for a bit.
I remember after the first month in India, sitting on the beach, taking in a deep breath and feeling like a little piece of me had come back. You don't realise how broken you are until you take a step back.
I'll start with the worst bit about it which is the fear of failure. The realisation that the success or failure of this rests entirely on your head and it matters so much more because this is your stab at taking your life into your hands to make it better. I'd wake up feeling sick in the mornings knowing that nothing would get done today unless I did it, but I'd have a chat with myself; to reassure me that it was achievable and to tell me to get on with it!
The best thing is the amount of people who will help you for no reason other than they want to! I have been overwhelmed by people's willingness to spend time with you on the phone, over email or even in person to offer you their expertise and ask for nothing in return. It makes everything possible.
You have to open up. There was a period of time where I didn't want to tell anyone about my idea that might be able to help me. I was worried that they would be in a better position to actually do something about it and would steal it from me.
I spent time trying to find ways to do everything myself and protect my business idea and the reality was that I was holding myself back. I went to two separate networking events in a week looking for the magical answer and at each event, I met someone who told me that there is no easy way to protect yourself, you just have to trust others.
Still struggling with exposing my ideas and recipes, I realised I could let go when a former colleague said "the idea isn't difficult; it's the execution that makes the impact".
I now spend time making sure I'm getting my message across in the right way, attending the right events and establishing my brand at the level I want it to be.
The 3 things I read every week without fail are: