I have promised to talk about Happy Plates since the year began and we are now six months into the year. Well, the WAIT IS OVER. I finally got around to doing the write-up. Yippee! Go, Racheal…. Go Racheal *insert victory dance*
Happy Plates is a passion project run by one of my best friends Agaba Agatha Manzi and as a loyal best friend, I`m all about sharing the goodness cooking in my friend`s kitchen. (PS: You all need a friend who can cook yummy food.)
Let`s dive into our interview:
RK: Who is Agaba Agatha Manzi?
AAM: Agaba Agatha Manzi is a God-fearing lady. Mother to one boy and wife to one husband. I am a counsellor by profession with a focus on marriage counselling and relationship building. I love to cook and I am the founder of Happy Plates.
RK: Tell us a little bit about Happy Plates.
AAM: Happy Plates(HP) is a catering company that avails complete meals and snacks to people in the comfort of their homes, offices, schools and is flexible to serve all categories of people.
HP offers a variety of food and snacks for different occasions; breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Celebrations like birthdays, baby and bridal showers, baptism, traditional and church weddings, and all events that involve eating.
We are available to make cooking easy through training people to cook, prepare quick and easy meals creatively plus enable them to acquire the skill of food presentation. We also offer recipes for quick meals, especially for home use. We make meal plans for homes and create menus for those struggling with what to prepare for home and for small parties.
RK: What snacks do you provide?
AAM: We provide roasted groundnuts, samosas, mandazi, cookies, hard corns, pancakes, chapatis, sandwiches, wraps, and tea bites. We offer them in packages. I noticed that most clients prefer coupled products to standalone ones. For example, one of the snacks packages is inclusive of Mandazi, Pancakes, Cookies, Daddies & Tea bites at UGX 50,000.
RK: What`s has your Journey from employment to self-employment been like?
AAM: It has not been easy. When I left my job to start Happy Plates I was excited but I quickly learnt that self–employment demands more from you than a job will ever do. Employment has a programme and what you must do. While as in self-employment you are running everything; you create the programme, job description, roles, make targets, etc.
I have grown in my thinking and creativity since I also take on the role of creative director, a chief taster. I am forced to push myself out of my comfort zone. I am continuously learning something new.
RK: Why did you quit your job to run a full-time business?
AAM: To be honest, I had been toying with the idea of starting a food-related business for ages but I didn`t have the courage to do it. I liked the security of having a salary at the end of the month. Self-employment seemed risky. But when COVID-19 hit and there was a lockdown, my workplace wasn`t providing us with the necessary requirements to operate without the risk of acquiring the virus. Each day I went to work scared that I would contract the virus and bring it home to my family. On top of that, our salaries were cut. It’s in that background that I decided to pursue something I had always wanted to do. I quit my job in August 2020 and Happy Plates was birthed.
I have always loved to cook and I always talked about starting something around it. In June 2020, the beckoning came back. I put on my status that I could make snacks. A client called in and asked for a package list. I didn`t have one but created it immediately and sent it to her and the rest is history.
RK: How do you balance the business, child, marriage, family, and friends.
AAM: It`s not easy yet since I don`t have support for the business. I still run the business alone and only call in reinforcement when I have big orders especially food-related orders.
However, I have more time for my child and husband which was quite difficult with my work schedule. When it comes to my friends, I plan with them and we meet up, most times they come to my home.
Sometimes, some things suffer. Therefore, I do the best I can time with the time I have knowing that things will get better.
RK: What are some of the important lessons you`ve learnt about business
AAM: Understand and appreciate different customers and clients.
-Let the client lead and then fall in to control the matter.
-Help clients understand the services you offer.
-Getting creative each day.
-Start with what you have in terms of resources, machinery. Don`t wait to have much to start. I always thought I had to start with everything needed to run a catering business and that is what held me back.
RK: What advise would you give to people starting a business?
AAM: Find a mentor. It’s important to have someone to talk to before you start and also during your journey.
-Identify the business you want to do or are interested in and pursue it.
-Visualize-look at the end from the beginning and be encouraged. Paint a picture.
-Have a plan for your finances-personal and business. As you grow in your business, get help from an expert on how to monitor your expenditures, savings, etc.
RK: What are the Future plans for Happy Plates.
AAM: I desire to supply over 50 offices with snacks and food. Also, get my snacks into different supermarkets.
Salad Bar-I desire to add a salad bar to my services. I enjoy salads and there is a wide variety of them plus they are healthy for people who want healthier options.
I desire to grow the training arm of Happy Plates. Train the youth into preparing tasty meals in their homes. I have so far had three participants and I look forward to enrolling more.
RK: What else does Agatha like to do when she isn`t at Happy Plates?
AAM: Listening to stories, storytelling, restaurant hopping, supermarket hopping (I like to know what different supermarkets are offering), window shopping for kitchen and bedroom things.
RK: How can people contact you?
AAM: Happy Plates is on Instagram. Please follow us and be sure to place an order. For orders away from Instagram, call or WhatsApp me on +256 704 810660.
RK: Thank you for gracing us with your story and presence.
AAM: My absolute pleasure.
There you have it, folks. Happy Plates is here to offer you good food and tasty snacks in the comfort of your home. I am a witness to this. I always order my package and it gets to my home on time. I especially like the tea bites.
Images Courtesy: Agaba Agatha Manzi (Shot by Manzi)
Do you have friends running businesses? Share their businesses below. I might be interested in interviewing them or becoming a client.