As a practising nurse in Australia with up to eight years of experience, Michel Alusiola had always felt rewarded when she would lift the spirits of both the sick and their family members by serving them.
During her service, she noticed that one of the things that lifted the spirits of her patients on some days was the type of food that was being served.
“The mood was always good for most of my patients on Tuesday especially when we served hot chocolate and there was always a dip in the mood on beef stew and mashed potatoes day. This pattern fascinated me a lot,” said Alusiola.
Her career took a turn when she had challenges balancing her time between work shifts and being a new mum, she then opted to be a full-time mum and relocated back to Kenya.
As she took care of her children, she noticed a similar pattern to the one she had experienced with her patients in terms of their mood when it came to preparing meals for them.
“My children would get excited and in a good mood before and after some meals and in bad moods when it came to other foods,” said Alusiola.
With her nursing career behind her Ms. Alusiola still had the desire to achieve the same satisfaction she had in the past from serving others and this drove her to start her enterprise PinkPurple a catering service in 2016.
“I started with no capital, all I had was my kitchen. I received one order and from the down payment made, I started growing my business. I started catering for weddings and private functions during the weekends and then expanded to breakfasts and lunch orders for offices during the week,” said Ms. Alusiola.
PinkPurple started with four to five orders a day and one additional member of staff making small wedding and private function food. As they introduced breakfasts and lunches, the business progressively grew its orders to 15. With its customization of meals and the introduction of dinners PinkPurple currently employs three additional members of staffs and receives 30 to 35 orders a day.
“I do have a menu but I primarily focus on listening to customers request and tailor-making the meals according to their requests. Once, a customer requested an evening meal with specific servings and he made it a daily routine. From that order, I began doing weekly dinners for customers and it has made a major impact on my catering service,” said Ms. Alusiola.
She says her interest in making weekly dinners was driven by her assessment that most working-class people arrive late from work and find it difficult to prepare proper meals on a daily basis and the cost of eating at restaurants may be high for some people.
“I had a challenge at the beginning with setting up the rates for the meals at a completive rate to the restaurants but still have the customers enjoy the meals at the comfort of their homes. I decided to range my dishes between Sh250 and Sh350,” she said.
She explains how she sets up her weekly dinners and how she contributes her expertise to the customers’ orders.
“I receive orders at the end of the week with customer specifications on the type of food, the number of servings, and when they want to eat the food in the course of the week. From my experience with patients, I have always believed there is a link between the type of diet someone has and their physical and mental health. There is no superfood for better health so we try to create a whole dietary pattern through the food preparation and inform the client of its importance “said Alusiola
“I make some deliveries on my own to give me an opportunity to engage and receive feedback from my customers. Sometimes I engage courier services such as SafeBoda Kenya and Glovo to make fast deliveries” she added.
Her biggest challenge has been to market her business. With major players seeking the expertise of marketing specialists to promote their food service she still relies on word of mouth and tried to progressively learn how to use some social media platforms.
“I get recommendations from my clients and I keep trying to put video tutorials of the food PinkPurple cooks on social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram but I hardly find the time to consistently do the marketing for myself.