2019 was the year Manisha Advani launched Soul Santé, a vegan café in Dubai’s Marina neighborhood. Her new venture was the perfect intersection of experience, talent, and passion, allowing her to draw on her MBA and studies as a pastry chef, her work as a health coach and personal trainer, and her years as a young athlete.
Six months following the launch of Soul Santé, we asked Advani to share with us her biggest lessons learnt so far. Here’s what she had to say.
Any criticism is good criticism.
When working on something you’re passionate about, it can be difficult to accept negative feedback (no matter how constructive it is) or that you’ve produced work that is any less than perfect. However, the sooner you come to realize the importance of feedback, the sooner you’ll begin to access it as vital information.
What helped me the most when building my business was asking for customer feedback. Not only did I learn more about what their needs and wants were, but it made them feel involved and valued, and it prompted them to take more notice of the business.
Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.
When you’re an entrepreneur, truly no work is beneath you. This has been a key principle in my own journey, but I’ve also instilled it in my team.
In the race for excellence, there is no finish line.
In the lead-up to our launch, I remember looking forward to the day when I would open the café’s doors and finally have the time to take a break, but that quickly turned out to be merely wishful thinking. Once we launched, the real work started. Conceptualizing Soul Santé was exciting, but running a successful business requires a lot more than that.
Over years of working with my father, I came to share a common value of his, which is to never stop improving. For instance, at Soul Santé, we regularly sample our dishes to make sure that they are still meeting our standards, and we’re ready to dive in and change things up if they’re not.
Always keep improving and innovating.
If you are able to, make it a point to give back to your community one way or another. That could include anything from free meals for neighbors to recycling and reducing waste.
At Soul Santé, we wanted to empower people to make conscious choices. Being a sustainable brand didn’t just mean eradicating single-use plastics; it extended to everything and everyone around us. For instance, we partnered with local food businesses, which not only reduced our carbon footprint but also allowed us to support smaller, lesser-known suppliers.