Mum of two explains how she turned £20 into a £5million business
Ramona, now 44, was working as a computer engineer when she decided on a career change in 2004. Little did she know she’d soon be fronting one of the fastest-growing houmous brands in the UK, RAMONA’S.
After starting from a modest investment of £20 or so on a few “humble” ingredients from the supermarket, Ramona’s business is now worth over £5million and her products are available in major supermarkets – including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Co-op and Ocado.
The idea stirred after Ramona found herself feeling unsatisfied by the houmous and falafel products available on the market.
Growing up in a Mediterranean family, the mum of two from Watford said: “My father’s Egyptian and my grandparents are Turkish and so, I guess I’ve been eating this sort of food my whole life.”
With an itch to follow in her father’s footsteps in the food manufacturing industry, Ramona said: “I wanted to start a business and I wanted it to be in products that I understood and knew. I was in my 20s and I was young and ambitious and a little bit crazy, and thought to myself, ‘You know what, I’m going to just give it a shot’.
“I tasted some of the houmous on the market and the falafels and I thought, I’m 90 percent sure I could do a better job than this. I didn’t realise exactly how long that job would take but I did it anyway.
“That was it, just 18 years ago in my little one-bedroom flat. My poor husband had to deal with lots of little bowls of chickpeas floating around and packaging up the side of our bed and me working in the night to produce.”
Heading to Tesco with around £20, Ramona picked up some dry chickpeas, a small jar of Tahini, lemons, garlic and oil.
She said: “It wasn’t a lot of money to start the business. All the raw materials that were needed are just really humble ingredients – they’re not expensive products, they’re healthy and cheap.
“We’re taking those humble raw materials and we’re doing them in a way that’s authentic and the way that my grandparents did it.”
Ramona started her journey whipping up one-kilo loads of houmous at a time with her Kenwood blender, now she’s making 100 kilos at a time.
Ramona said it was “a few extra quid 18 years ago”, but it was “well worth it” because that Kenwood got used for a very long time.
But the journey wasn’t always smooth sailing. Ramona said: “My first few times were not amazing. My friends said, ‘Maybe you should consider staying with your day job’, and ‘Are you really going to do something that’s going to risk your livelihood?’”
Ramona continued: “No, it wasn’t going to risk my livelihood because I could always get a job as a computer engineer again. It was a risk and I think a lot of people were a bit confused about that decision.
“But then I knew I had it right when the houmous was devoured. And actually, that is still how I know I get it right when I do the new product development. I put it on the table and I watch my friends and family and it either gets devoured or it doesn’t and I find that’s a very good first gauge into market research when it’s finished.”
‘I bring in £159,000 a year thanks to side hustle selling jewellery'[INSIGHT]
Pensions are a ‘valuable tool’ to reduce inheritance tax burden[EXPLAINED]
Councils adding highest surcharges on Council Tax bills – MAPPED[ANALYSIS]
Unable to attribute her business success to “any one thing”, Ramona said: “What I did think made a huge difference is being very honest about what that quality needs to be for our consumer. There was one product and that product never changed, not in 18 years.”
The business turns over millions, but for, Ramona, it’s “not about the money”. Instead, she said her products “brings people together” and for her, “that was the reward”.
She said: “For me, it was about finally being able to put it on the shelf, it being on the shelf and lots of people eating it, and then lots of people loving it. I don’t proclaim to be the best businesswoman on earth and I don’t proclaim to have the biggest and best business but I do have the best houmous and that’s what I’m proud of.
“What I do hope is that I’m a role model to my two teenage girls, and I want them to absolutely watch and learn and see that there is first of all, not overnight success, but long, hard slogs that do reward you in the end.”
But houmus and falafels aren’t where the product road ends for Ramona’s business. She said: “We’re going to now look in the next year at some new product development. The next step will now be taking the brand for a ride, saying ‘You know what, you trusted me on the houmous and you trust me on the falafel, why don’t we try a different set of dips?’.
“We really are a sharing brand. We want people to take our product and share it and have fun with it and so everything we do from now on will be in that vein.”
The team at RAMONA’S has also been busy working on a packaging rebrand as part of its mission to drive consumer usage beyond dips and show the versatility of the product.
Ramona said: “RAMONA’S is bright, bold, and continues to disrupt this beige category which we know drives consumer interest. We are so proud to introduce the new look for the packaging of our Heavenly Houmous range.
“This is a product that is so versatile and it’s so easy to use on so many different things. We’ve gotten caught up thinking that it’s just a dip and it’s not just a dip. It can be used with chicken and can be used in sandwiches. It can be used in pasta or as a salad dressing.
“There are a million things to do with this product, and I just want everyone to give it a try.”
Source: Read Full Article