A DAY IN THE LIFE
Navina Barlett, Founder, Coconut Chilli
Navina Barlett, is the founder of Coconut Chilli, which specialises in Southern Indian cuisine. She lives in Bristol with her daughter, partner and his two children and their border collie, Whiskey.
What time does your alarm go off?
My alarm goes off at 7am and I’m not an entrepreneur who springs out of bed. I love my morning coffee ritual and pottering about making a good breakfast for the kids.
What is a typical day for you, and what are you responsible for?
Every day is unique so I don’t have a set routine, but the mornings are usually preparing for events, planning or catching up with suppliers. We always take a proper break for lunch and make sure to eat hot food away from out computer screens. I spend my afternoons in meetings or completing sales and marketing tasks, however, my productivity usually starts to wane around 7pm. I tend to write marketing content in the evenings, while sipping a glass of fine red wine.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I became a mother while working in advertising and I was deliberately told that I wouldn’t be promoted and would have to focus on admin-based tasks. I left shortly after my daughter was born and began working for a friend’s digital marketing start-up. We grew the company together and I’ve been freelance or a business owner ever since.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
My former mentor, Mike Teasdale of AugMentor is a whizz at projections, budgeting, and spreadsheets. In the food, industry margins are very tight and Mike taught me about Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and various other financial terms. As a result, I’m now confident in all the financial aspects of running a business.
What are the best things about your job?
I am lucky enough to eat some amazing dishes – both our own Indian catering but also from other street food traders or producers.
Where do you go for personal &/or professional advice?
I’d advise anyone to get a mentor or a coach, but not necessarily one in your industry. It’s one of the reasons that I applied for a Virgin Start Up loan – they will assign me with a mentor and this will increase Coconut Chilli’s chance of success. Since receiving my loan, I’ve also been nominated as a Virgin Ambassador, which is an honour but also allows me to empower other entrepreneurs to start their journey.
Who is your go-to colleague to get things done?
My Executive Chef KK Anand is a powerhouse. I can rely on him 100% to get things done and he always excels. He has developed new recipes and manages our production kitchen in London with minimal involvement from myself.
What do you attend/read/watch to get ideas and inspiration?
I attended A-Fest by Mindvalley in 2015, which was a personal development event for entrepreneurs and ‘game changers.’ The topic was on belief hacking and it really challenged me to grow outside of my comfort zone. I started to become aware of challenges, which I’d previously faced as a woman of Indian origin, especially in the work environments, but the real challenge was to overcome these beliefs and empower myself to run my business in the way that I believe is the best way to do it.
How do you unwind after work?
I am a huge food lover and I enjoy eating out with friends. I’m lucky to live in Bristol with a world class-dining scene. I had a goal in my twenties to be able to eat out three times a week if I wanted and I can say that some week’s this does happen! Otherwise, you’ll find me doing yoga.
How do you stay productive throughout the day?
I work with my body’s own rhythm. I believe that self-care is really important especially for women. I know that when I’m bleeding I need to rest more and the period afterward is when I’m most productive and full of energy.
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