15 MAY 2017
The LEAP Network salutes Kate Kinyua.
Kate Kinyua is the founder of Leah & Gibson; a gourmet food and catering company. A mouth watering enterprise determined to shift the food and dining landscape in Nairobi.
1. What distinguishes Leah & Gibson from other gourmet food and catering companies in Nairobi?
We’re a high end gourmet food company. If you are looking for Pilau or Ugali you don’t call me. If you’re looking for fried Calamari with lemon aioli or a smoked sailfish sashimi you call me.
2. What are some of the most powerful lessons you have learnt in business?
• It is quite hard to please everyone; we have a niche we feed and we’re happy to stay there.
• There will always be those who will find a reason to complain.
• Positive customer feedback is very important; it helps grow the business.
• It’s very important for me to educate my customers as to why things cost what they do.
3. What inspires your menus?
The ingredients, the event, the clients, the seasons…yes we have seasons.
4. What keeps you going?
The fact that people really love our products and I love what I do.
5. You are pretty active on your Whatsapp sharing funny and compelling updates on events, menus and delicious images. How effective is it in roping in sales?
It is quite effective especially when we had the Organic Market. Every Sunday the Whatsapp marketing really helped generate sales and gave the brand a following.
6. You are also pretty active on Facebook, how do you maximise that for your business?
We make sure we post as many photos of all the various products that we make, and also share a short and clear description of the same.
7. How effective are business referrals for your business, how would you advise others to use this system?
Business referrals have really been effective for us. Our catering business has been very successful because of word of mouth. Of course business referrals depend on the service you deliver and client satisfaction. This is the only reason we get referrals because we delivered. The secret therefore to using that system is to provide the best always, a very difficult task indeed.
8. How do you handle stubborn clients, especially the kinds who refuse to pay you after services have been rendered?
We make sure to ask for a 70% deposit before the service is rendered and we’re moving to a 100% payment upfront or before goods are released. It’s exhausting for a small business and young business to chase payments. We don’t have the cash flows to wait sometimes even a day. I have to pay all suppliers upfront, my workers etc. I was having a really hard time with one client, really sleepless nights, I even got sick and it was always the same every engagement I had. Then I read an anecdote by Richard Branson about how he fired a client. And I decided to do the same. It was wasting so much of my time. Time is the greatest resource you have. No amount of money is worth that amount of stress. Take that time and go find other clients.
9. Are any of your products available at local supermarkets, or grocers? If so, where can people buy some Leah & Gibson Honey and sauces?
Currently none, but that may change in the future. So watch this space. We mostly encourage our customers to order from us online, and then we deliver to destinations mostly within the city.
10. What’s your secret to recruiting the right staff?
I’ve not figured this out. Hahaha…it’s a challenge for all organizations big and small.
11. What advice can you give to other entrepreneurs in the catering business?
My greatest fear is to make people sick. Seriously, I get sleepless nights sweating bullets. Food is so sensitive. Last year, my cousin attended a wedding where over 200 people got some serious food poisoning. Everyone was sick! Even the bride and groom. A little hygiene goes a long way. I’m obsessed about hand washing. Even guests who enter the facility have to wash hands. Food storage at the right temperatures is extremely important. We’re in the nurturing business so let us nurture. We really are what we eat!
12. What can we expect next from Leah & Gibson?
A high end gourmet restaurant.