Mar 03 2022. views 155
In this series, we talk to people who turned their passion for food and baking into a business idea amidst lockdown and COVID-19 fears. Some have been in the market for years and others saw the new opportunity and took it! These home businesses are changing the game and have overcome the odds of running a business during quarantine. We talk to home bakers who are operating during these times to bring the sweet and savoury to your very own doorstep!
A Christmas venture that grew from a pop-up sale, Feasty is an artisanal food brand by Niasha Don Carolis. “I started Feasty a few Christmases ago at a pop-up sale, it has been slowly gathering momentum ever since. The pandemic set in straight after my accidental ‘launch’ and working from home, as I have a full-time job in the apparel sector, gave me a chance to develop Feasty and that is how the brand was born!”.
What do you offer?
Feasty offers a range of artisanal goods. Our signature items are our Chillie Jam, Smoked Salmon Rillettes, Rocky Road, Spiced Apple Chutney, Pork Rillettes, Wild Mushroom Pate, Boozy Fruit Loaf and Lamington Cakes and some of our best sellers are the Bacon Jam, Chicken Liver Pate, Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites, Marzipan Dates, Tuna Green Chillie Pate, Onion Marmalade, Olive Tapenade, Lime and Coconut Macaroons. All the items in the Feasty range are made by hand by me in small batches and the preparation and methods used for it tend to be more traditional and un-sophisticated! The flavours both savoury and sweet are rich, hearty and strong in taste and the range is very much rustic in appearance. The current range is predominantly pates, relishes, preserves, sweet confections and baked items that have a shelf life.
When did you start operations?
I ‘accidentally’ launched Feasty in December 2019 when a good friend asked me to join her pop-up sale. But the pandemic did give me a chance to really develop the brand and the range as it would never have been possible given my full-time job that involved a long daily commute.
What is it like running your operations in times like these?
To be very honest, operating Feasty was not a priority during the many lockdowns as there were times at the early stages when securing sufficient groceries for the home (which includes three large dogs who eat a lot!) was a challenge. However, the pandemic also meant that so many ingredients and vendors came online that running a brand like Feasty became that much easier because sourcing in terms of options and lead time, improved drastically!
How are you ensuring the proper hygiene measures are taken in preparation and delivery?
Even today all fresh ingredients are washed before storage and dry ingredients are left to air before storage to ensure there is no contamination coming into my larder room or kitchen! Cold items have a dedicated fridge and freezers not used in the day to day running of my home kitchen. All preparation is done by me and I take all necessary steps to ensure proper hygiene. I rarely deliver; most regular direct customers collect their orders from my residence in Colombo 7 whilst 50% of my customers access the range through Gusta (online), Baguette (Queens Road), and Food for Thought (at House of Wines).
What do you enjoy about baking and operating your own home baking business?
I have always loved being in the kitchen; growing up watching my mother cook and entertain, I was always an eager helper. Then in my young adult life at university, my aunt replaced my mother as a source of inspiration and ever since cooking has been my passion. So Feasty is a chance for me to dive into this passion more often than just cooking for family and friends. It is also a way for me to balance my life better - by fuelling my passion outside of my day job and my family, I believe that it makes me a better person, more effective at work, more patient with my family, more appreciative of the other aspect of my life because I have the chance to step back, take time out and recharge through cooking!
How do you see home bakers going forward post-Covid?
The pandemic definitely is the reason I was able to develop my business to this level simply because it bought me time! It also put a lot of home businesses and startups in the spotlight together with digitisation. The pandemic also prompted people the world over to re-order their priorities impacting corporate and home life and together all these forces have made things like Feasty a possibility for people like myself!
What’s in store for your brand in 2022?
While Feasty did have a catering arm initially, in 2022 I decided to stop catering. I used to cater for home dinners and parties providing a range of wholesome pub-style dishes from pies to one-pot meals like paella and meaty salads and desserts. With a full-time job and a family to care for I find it challenging to do both the catering as well as the Feasty Deli or Jarred Delights range as I call it! So in 2022, I will focus on building this range further (currently about 30 sweet and savoury items) and enhancing the distribution network for Feasty. As the Feasty range expands, I will also be venturing further into the ‘gifting’ space with readymade hampers as opposed to the tailored hampers we offer now.
What is your signature style in cooking?
I will never be a chef and will always take joy in being a home-style cook! What this means is that my approach in the kitchen is about taking quality ingredients and putting them together with creativity (versus precision) to create something wholesome, rich and comforting! So, the food I put on the table is rarely ‘pretty’ but rather rustic in appearance and hearty flavours over-refined tastes!
Any advice to anyone who wants to start their own business?
Simply, to dive into it and remember that you cannot have everything worked out at the outset. As you start your journey, the plan may change as you learn along the way so you have to be open to that change too. The second piece of advice which I am trying to hold onto myself is to have patience. Patience to see ideas materialise and seeds grow into something bigger and something that is economically viable and impactful to its stakeholders - be it customers, employees, communities or investors.
The Feasty range is available on Facebook (@Feasty) and Instagram (@feasty_lk) and can be ordered online at Gusta or purchased at Baguette (Queens Road) and Food for Thought . Feasty is also delivered direct within Colombo and Colombo city limits.