Saima Duhare is the founder of Halal Fresh, the UK’s first halal non subscription meal kit service predominantly catering for the Muslim community.
- What does your company do?
Halal Fresh is a meal kit service providing freshly preportioned ingredients, with an easy to follow recipe card to cook great tasting meals. Making dinner times stress free and enabling our customers to be adventurous in the kitchen, as well as supporting their healthy lifestyles.
- Why did you set up this company?
My vision was to bring back the joy of cooking by offering every Muslim household the opportunity to cook homemade fresh meals from around the world, making dinner tables exciting to sit at.
I grew up in a household where food was the catalyst of bringing people together, my Grandma, Mum and Aunty are amazing cooks and would cook foods from around the world and we would always have family and friends over. I felt we were losing the importance of having a home cooked meal which gives an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends over a great meal.
Given the rise of fast food and the ease of it, coupled with the busy lives we lead, I felt this aspect of our life was slowly disintegrating. So Halal Fresh was born to make people’s life easier and offer varied, healthy delicious meals they cook from scratch at home, in addition to being mindful of our carbon footprint since everything is proportioned so there is no food waste and all of our packaging is recyclable
- How did you get your first customer?
We had no budget for marketing and when we launched we pretty much prayed we get customers, lucky for us people were googling for a halal meal kit service, thus, my first customer was a Dr who kindly posted our service on Instagram, result of that we approached various influencers from different professions, and and from that we organically built and grew ourselves this is going back in April 2019 and still we haven’t spent any money on marketing apart from a offering a recipe box in exchange for a shout out, plus our lovely customers a promote us
- We knew we were onto something when?
We were approached by a journalist from the Independent and at the time we had no clue which publication she was from until I delivered the box and we were included as being one of the best recipe boxes in July 2020.
- Our business model:
We are an online non subscription business model, which people enjoy because they can use the service without feeling tied in, and that works for us and them.
We’re currently only serving the London region, however, we are looking to expand nationally. We are growing slowly but surely and organically. And the interest we receive daily in bringing it to other parts of the UK is promising and exciting. We are learning as we develop, progressing and improving our offering and service.
- Our most effective marketing channel has been:
Instagram and word of mouth from our customers and being in several reputable british and British Asian papers has helped us and put us on the map as a 5* Halal Recipe Box.
- What we look for when recruiting:
We are a very small team, and the team we have are very passionate about food and the industry. We look for people who are creative and open to learn as much as we are, and contribute to what we are trying to achieve, to make people’s lives easier, and can work on their own initiative.
My graphic designer for instance has had very little experience but her work excited me. I tend to go with my gut feeling, of course they need to have the skill but not necessarily the experience.
- The biggest mistake that I’ve made is:
Having no experience in opening a business I have made lots of mistakes, but one of them for instance, when we had our soft launch I spent £6,000 to test the model on 40 people, in hindsight I could have tested the model on 20 people and tested it for much less.
I created the MVP as if though it were a fledgling business, with 9 recipes, 2 chefs, all the packaging and pre portioned ingredients from suppliers, which I could have easily pre portioned myself and less recipes and 1 chef.
- We think that there’s growth in this sector because:
The halal sector is booming – in 2019 it was valued at £31bn, considering there are only 4.1 million Muslims in the UK, that staggering. It’s very exciting times for the food industry despite the current climate. We are becoming more mindful about what we put into our bodies and becoming conscious consumers.
- Is there anything your business is doing to help in your community or with the wider crisis?
We are heavily involved with our local food bank which was set up by a friend of mine, and have volunteered, distributed food as well donated food. This is something we are also passionate about, which is giving back and helping those that are vulnerable in our community, so much so we are working on embedding this into our business model.
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