Monica Wachira spent her entire life dedicated to food. Growing up in Kenya, she began cooking at age five. Throughout her life, she worked in kitchens large and small; learning about techniques, collaboration, and all there was to a career in cooking. Eventually, launching her own business: Monique’s Hot Kitchen.
Why a ‘Hot Kitchen’?
One day, Monica heard the term ‘hot kitchen’ being thrown around in a restaurant. She wondered, “what is a hot kitchen?” Then, she discovered a hot kitchen is a busy kitchen with lots of work to do. Monica then aspired to one day have a hot kitchen to herself, a place that would always be busy and filled with people looking to indulge in her cooking.
After over a decade of working in the restaurant industry, Monica decided it was her time to build her own business. In the beginning, it was difficult to figure out where to even begin. “I didn’t know anything or [even] what those [things] were! I knew that if my heart [was] there, I can make it,” she stated in reflecting her beginnings. Monica connected with the Food Innovation Network and Business Impact NW to help her every step of the way in the journey. “With the Business Impact NW experts, now I know so much.”
Beating the Heat
Monique’s Hot Kitchen launched in May 2019.
Not only did Monica face the difficulties of a first-year entrepreneur, but the following year, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. At that point, she had already received training on financial projections and accounting – she knew she could come to Business Impact NW for support with any financial circumstance she faced. Monica received support in navigating the PPP loan process and continues to receive support in recovering and succeeding beyond the pandemic. “At one point, I was just cooking, but now I know how many people I can feed, how to pay myself, how to make room for others, all of it...” she notes.
Although it has been a difficult start, Monica feels confident her business can succeed in the years to come. She’s found confidence in the community built at Spice Bridge, the global food hall her food kiosk can be found. There, other successful, inspiring female entrepreneurs can be found like Chef Jalissa Horton, Adama Jammeh, and Oumie Sallah. “When women are together, they are powerful,” Monica notes about the environment filled with entrepreneurs passionate about their craft.
Cooking Up Something New
Now that Monica has taken the first steps in her journey, she is already seeing opportunities to grow. “I see the opportunities in the Business Impact NW classes, where I can do packaged foods, or have a full commercial kitchen… I know I can even get help with hiring people so I can have employees… there is so much!” she lists off excitingly.
Monica has seen the impact of her authentic Kenyan cuisine in the neighborhood. She notes hearing visitors say things like “It has been over 10 years since I’ve had Mukimo like this.” or “My grandma used to cook like this.” she also notes she feels proud to be able to provide her cooking to some that have never had authentic Kenyan cuisine. She aims to create a space where it feels ‘back like home’, where everyone is family – no matter how different we may be. Alongside this, she wants to be a role model for her 7-year-old daughter that is already aspiring to start her own pastry business.
When asked for her top piece of advice for any aspiring entrepreneurs, Monica responded with “surround yourself with all the experts and resources you need.” A wise piece of advice for any business at any stage of development.
We’re excited to see all the growth and success from Monique’s Hot Kitchen. We will continue to support Monica in every step of her journey. Eventually, we even hope to support her daughter’s entrepreneurship journey as well.
To learn more about Monique’s Hot Kitchen, visit their website here.
Get started with our food business-specific classes here.
Check out our classes for all types of small business owners here.