Nadia Hamila is the founder of Amboora, a Moroccan food brand in the UK. She lives in London with her family. Nadia worked in start-ups in logistics and ecommerce before leaving to setup Amboora. Her mission is to build Amboora to be the go to brand for Moroccan food but also to educate and inspire people about Morocco. In the short time she’s been running Amboora, she’s already been featured on the front page of the New York Times Cooking Magazine.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Before COVID, I was working in a logistics company as a Chief of Staff. Then when COVID hit, I decided to take the plunge and quit my job. I am a London-born foodie of Moroccan and Tunisian descent who loves nothing more than to share new flavours and culinary secrets – all unearthed from my rich cultural heritage. I had worked in the start-up environment for over 10 years and I had the perfect experience to launch my own business.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I had an epiphany a few years ago when cooking my daughter Moroccan food and at the same time people were asking me for recipes and how to recreate the food they’d eaten in Morocco. I provided them with spices and a recipe and the feedback was that it was ‘spot on’ and that they couldn’t find anything similar in shops. Then one Saturday we were at a food market and I saw a woman selling sauces. I turned to my husband and all those puzzle pieces came together. I followed up by doing extensive market research spending weekends at the British Library BIPC centre. Google was my best friend, doing surveys were vital and when I got validation, I knew I had to go for it.
How did you achieve awareness?
Our main strategy is using Instagram to engage and educate customers. On Amboora’s website, there are recipes to support our products so people have knowledge in order to use the products.
Not only do I want the website to be transactional but educational as well. By using analytics, I’ve noticed people visit my website thanks to my blogs which helps convert customers. It’s important to build your own tribe in order to be able to have a direct relationship with them.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
The business is purely funded from savings and bootstrapping. I’ve grown the company mainly by raising awareness as above and some online advertising.
What are the key successes?
Growing our Instagram to over 9000 followers and in December 2021 I grew our market share for our spice range on Amazon from 0.4% to 5.6% in 2 months.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Working on Amboora has been a learning curve; even though I came from a start-up background I didn’t have any knowledge of the food industry and had to learn how to navigate it. Finding a manufacturer was the most difficult part of the process as well as learning about the industry. Having a business background was a big help and I only realised when others asked questions that I already had some sort of advantage. I had to search high and low for a manufacturer and it was talking to people in the network and google that I finally found not one but three.
As I came from a start-up business background, I didn’t really encounter any other challenges except lack of time trying to balance a demanding job and family life. Thanks to the Kickstart Scheme I have been able to employ people to help support marketing activities.
What are your plans now/for the future?
I want Amboora to be the go-to brand for Moroccan food so the focus is on growing the business and getting Amboora out there. I’m planning on launching two more ranges this year and I’m hoping to collaborate with a couple of companies to be able to offer a full Moroccan experience.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Networking! Talk and learn from people. Inspire and let yourself be inspired. However, don’t be that one annoying person who keeps asking the questions and doesn’t give.
Another tip is to just go for it! There will never be a perfect time and usually it’s not worth waiting around for that time. If starting seems overwhelming with a lot of things to do then breakdown the tasks into smaller activities for example, simply just researching on Amazon, reading their reviews or understanding what makes the customer tick.
Mistakes will be a part of the journey and don’t be afraid of them! Use these as key learning opportunities.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Trust and belief in yourself
- Having a good strategy
- Be glad to make mistakes and learn from them
- Have more money than you think you need as you will waste some
- Believe in what you are doing and let it drive you.
- Take time for yourself and don’t believe in this culture that you have to hustle hard!
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
Whilst it might sound cliche, My daughter has taught me an entirely different way to look at life, understand it, and approach it creatively. I am very fortunate that she helps me think differently about how to connect with the world.
Sara Blakely, the CEO of Spanx. Her story is so inspiring and there are so many lessons that you can learn from her journey. She knew exactly what she wanted to achieve and set out doing just that. Using unconventional methods to get her products in front of people worked for her.
Elon Musk – I love his success and the way he has fought through many setbacks. He has such a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
Nelson Mandela, he relentlessly fought against racial discrimination his whole life. Even after serving over 30 years in prison, that didn’t deter him. He had determination and focus for his vision which was for people to be equal and be free.
Fatima Al Fihri, she is a Muslim woman of Tunisian decent who moved to Morocco and used her inheritance to benefit her community decided to setup the first university in the world, Al Quaraouiyine in 859. The University still exists today in Fez, Morocco.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” — Jim Rohn
“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” – Margaret Thatcher
“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” Estée Lauder.
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?