Yam Gurung, Momos & Khaja Himalayan Granola
Tell us about yourself.
I've been cooking Nepali, Western, and International foods for over 20 years. Born and raised in Nepal, I believe in cooking, eating and serving fresh, home style food using natural, healthy, and tasty ingredients. I literally and figuratively cater to the tastes of my customers!
Tell us about your business.
In business since 2008, I started in the Western Fair Market selling Momos (pronounced mo-mos) from a table and hot plate and moved into a booth in 2009. Soon after, I opened a booth in the London Food Incubator at 630 Dundas St East in September 2017 highlighting my delicious Nepalese food. Recently, the WFD Market is now open on Sundays and I was able to move into a larger booth and include breakfast on my menu. It was always a goal of mine to be self employed and I also realized there was a big market for a superior granola. I spent the early part of my career as a Himalayan mountain guide and as a cook during the off season in a small village near Annapurna. I started selling Himalayan style granola in 2015 and I have established approximately 20 wholesale accounts as well as retail at both locations. I have 10 amazing employees working with me, mostly new Canadians.
What led you to start this business?
As a chef at a Yoga school, I turned to my Nepalese roots out of the necessity to provide wheat free, high energy food for the students and faculty. As a result, my Nepalese Artisan Recipe for granola was born. The fact that everyone loved it and wanted to know where to buy it, was reason enough for me to follow through on the suggestions for making it available to the general public. Today, we carry four varieties of Khaja Himalayan Granola that contain some of the best natural ingredients that were carefully selected for their health and energy sustaining benefits!
Was there something that drew (or pushed) you into being an entrepreneur?
Due to language and educational limitations, I realized the best way to provide for my family and get ahead was to be self employed.
What were some of the challenges you faced getting started and how did you overcome them?
Limited skills in reading and writing English and lack of funds were the main challenges. People were anxious to help me develop my English to a point that I was confident and in fact this is the 4th language I’ve mastered. I have received financial help from individuals, social networks (Pillar) and the London Small business Centre.
Can you tell us about an entrepreneur you admire and why?
Margaret Coons of Nuts for Cheese! I have watched her take an idea to produce vegan cheese from nuts, sell her product from a small table in the WFD Market and grow it to a business with over 600+ customers.
What is in the future for your business?
With the help of the Small Business Centres Scale Up Food Processing Accelerator, I see a great future for my Granola business, particularly wholesale sales!
Check out both of Yams businesses Momos at the Market and Khaja Himalayan Granola.