What started out as a means to make extra money to make ends meet has transformed into a thriving business in George which specialises in authentic Indian cuisine.
House of Natal Curries produces up to 1,200 of its well-known samoosas a day as well as its signature mutton curry dish, not only for its George clientele but for fans in Johannesburg, the UK and Dubai as well.
Please share some background on yourself and how the business was started
My name is Linda Moodley and I moved to George with my late husband Philip Moodley from Durban in March 2000.
At the time we both had full-time jobs working for a textile company and by 2003 we had found it financially challenging to live in George, as the cost of living was much higher than in Durban.
We needed additional income, so we took a look at what the town of George and surrounding areas was missing and came up with the idea of a need for authentic Indian cuisine.
It was actually very difficult to obtain a lot of the ingredients and spices as none were available in George and the surrounding areas. So we started physically making our own pastry for the samoosas.
We worked 7am to 5pm in our day jobs and worked in the evenings making samoosas and then we applied for a food stall at Harkerville Market (our first opportunity to earn an additional income every Saturday morning in Plettenberg Bay).
What is the name of your business?
House of Natal Curries.
What is your core service?
We sell Indian food and we have become well-known for our samoosas.
Our signature dish is our famous mutton curry served with rice and sambals, and of course the traditional bunny chow.
But we are also a catering business.
What makes your business unique?
The news of House of Natal Curries spread far and wide along the Garden Route and even overseas.
We’ve have customers from the UK, Johannesburg and Dubai.
We are blessed with loyal customers locally along the Garden Route, and nationally and abroad, supporting our business and helping us grow.
Our customers also book us to host an evening with friends or family. They have an Indian-style theme where they dress up and decorate their dining area, then we arrive and teach them to cook Indian cuisine, curries of their choice and learn to make samoosas.
I even provide some stand-up comedy as entertainment (Indian culture), bringing food, fun and laughter.
We are also proud to introduce our new line cooking companions (curry paste and Atchar) that are now available at a retail outlet at Eden Meander Mall.
What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before getting off the ground?
Being unknown. But after joining the George business chamber, things got better.
We also did not have stable transportation at the beginning.
Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs or new business owners?
What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations and your particular industry?
Balancing time between my personal life and the business. If I could get more hours in the day, it would be perfect.
What is the best advice anyone gave you on success?
It is to follow your dreams.
How do you measure or define success in your business and in life?
It is to continually be better and do better.
What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?
The first step was branding and marketing our new logo for House of Natal Curries.
What kind of advertising do you do?
Word-of-mouth has really helped us, but we also built our new brand and our personality at the markets. We do also have social media pages.
What is your company’s vision?
Passion for our work, commitment to personal growth, and a high standard of ethical behaviour.
Who is your target market?
Anyone who loves curry and Indian food.
What have some of your highlights been in running your business?
How we have grown. We have come a long way in our business which started out selling less than 100 samoosas a day to now selling more than 700 off season and in season about 1,200 a day.
How important is social media and an online presence for your business?
Social media is important for any business. We have a Facebook page where we keep our customers abreast with all new developments in our company.
How many people do you employ?
It is a family business so it is myself and sometimes our daughter and son.
In season we train and use pupils to help build up stock.
Do you have any plans for expanding the business, and how would you go about this?
In the future we will find a business premises and acquire and train staff.
We have been approached by the Gourmets & Gourmands fundraising event for learners of Carpe Diem School, and we look forward to being a part of this.
How did you acquire funding for the business?
We started off with money from our full-time jobs.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your business journey so far?
Through perseverance — one can make it.
It is important to do everything for yourself, to be independent.
What have been the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in the Garden Route?
Finding premises to run the business, it has worked that much better.
What do you believe are the three key traits of a successful entrepreneur?
Skills and effective management style, commitment to bettering the business, people management and development.
What do you wish people knew about your industry?
It is not as easy as it looks. One must be passionate about your work.