Meet Gilava Pour, founder of Exotic Bazaar cooking sauces and spices for the classic slow cooked meal with authentic Middle Eastern flavours. Gilava’s  love of cooking is expressed when she says, “I feel like I have been invited to so many family dinner tables” when speaking about her consumers and their love for her Middle Eastern food.

I think that’s a feeling that many women in food and drink can relate to.

Read on for Gilava’s small business journey and her steely determination to go big.

How would you describe the business you are in?

Manufacturing food products inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine so people create their own feast at home. Our products are made from locally sourced ingredients and we are an environmentally conscious business.

What do you love about your work?

Seeing people’s face light up when they try our products, knowing what I made is being enjoyed in people’s homes that puts a smile on their face. I feel like I have been invited to so many family dinner tables. It is truly an honour.

Also, I am very proud to have joined the small business world. I always worked in a corporate environment and seldom saw people who truly care for what they do. I never thought how hard a grocery store owner or a local independent grocer works.

I feel more connected with the society since I am a small business owner myself. 

What part of your job would you gladly give away?

Anything that involves working in the business rather than on it.

If you were starting out in business again today, what piece of advice would you give your younger you?

I would spend more time setting up the right structure and fundamentals.

Also, get more help earlier.

Women start businesses 41% of the time to solve a problem. Sometimes this means we have a great vision but don’t have enough resources to sustain our business for the long term. Tell us what resources you started your business with eg. money saved, business premises, business partner, and how long before you started paying yourself?

I had some money saved. My partner in life joined the business and started working full time in it. We are under two years old. We started with a market stall and soon started distributing into the retail channel.

We have learned so many lessons along the way about running a business and our proudly Middle Eastern product has been constantly improved.

Unfortunately, however, I still don’t draw a wage and continue to work a ‘day job’ to pay all the bills.

As you know we are passionate about women #backingthemselves. So tell us about a time in the last twelve months that you’re really proud of.

Publishing my first cookbook, Persian Home Cooking. This is an e-book that I have published on our website for free to bring value to our customers and raise awareness about Persian cuisine. It has been less than a month but the cookbook has created momentum and we’ve seen an increase in online orders already.

As we are always growing and learning, what is the one thing you would like to take time to learn more about?

I would like to find out about the services out there that could help my business, how to find the right people and how to convince them to work with me.

The world is changing so fast and technology enables us to do so much more. We’re interested in which app you could not live without and why?

Canva, because I create all my marketing material in there.

And Excel for all my accounting, costing, inventory, and invoicing.

Why did you decide to become a member of the Foodpreneurs Formula®

  • To access reliable resources
  • To learn from others
  • To get professional advice on things that I didn’t know how to do to grow my food business and
  • To make solid industry connections

We love to celebrate successes. Can you give us an example of how joining the Foodpreneurs Formula® has positively impacted your business? 

  • The resources help me see things from a different angle
  • I have listened and downloaded most of the modules
  • I select advice that could apply to my business, things that I may not even have thought of
  • I have also found a network of people that I have engaged to work with me on my business

Thank you Gilava.

Want to read more about another successful member? Check out our ‘What’s Cooking’ interview with moozly maker, Chantal Scarlett, founder of XO Foods.