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Nims fruit crisps

31st October 2018

What’s age got to do with it?

This is the question posed by Nimisha Raja, the 54 year old who decided that age shouldn’t be a barrier to taking risks and this year realised her dream of owning a successful healthy food business - with the launch of her fruit and vegetable crisps in Coop, Ocado and 1400 Tesco stores. Until relatively recently Nimisha ran a coffee shop in Battersea, South London, which was ideal for allowing her, as a single mum, to look after her daughter after school. Deep down Nimisha had always harboured other business ambitions however, so when her daughter finished school, and with a business seed planted from her time in the café, Nimisha set to work. “My core customers at the café were parents and children from the school. There was a constant battle between parents trying to persuade the children to have fruit as a snack whilst the children bartered to have crisps. There really was a problem in finding honest and genuinely healthy snacks that both parents and children WANTED to eat” Working initially from her garden shed, Nimisha started to produce air dried fruit and vegetable crisps. Air drying means there’s no fat needed and a much healthier and super tasty crisp can be produced. After trialling the crisps on her friends, and getting great feedback, Nimisha decided to test the market properly and approached 16 local shops with her handmade, hand packed bags of Nim’s crisps - Nimisha decided that giving her name to the crisps would mean she’d always have to be 100% satisfied with their quality, after all they had her name on them. She asked the shops to put the crisps on the counter on a sale or return basis and decided that if she was still topping up the stores’ supplies 6 weeks later then there was repeat business and the products had a real chance of being a success. Because everything was handmade and packed, this meant Nimisha spending very long hours, sometimes overnight, making and packing the crisps for the shops and events. It also meant she had to go to New Covent Garden Market or Spitalfields at 2 or 3 in the morning to buy fruit. It was worth it though, as the crisps flew off the shelves and Nimisha realised it was time to take the plunge and invest in a factory to make the crisps on a commercial scale. That’s when things got ‘really interesting’, recalls Nimisha. She struggled to get finance from the banks and so made the huge decision to sell her house. “People seem to think that this sort of decision is harder the older you get, but for me it was easier. My daughter had left home and so I didn’t have the ties I did earlier in my life. The bigger risk for me was not taking the jump at all and wondering for the rest of my life ‘what if?’ ” Whilst a few friends raised an eyebrow or two, all were supportive and most people who knew Nimisha realised that she would not make such a huge decision if she wasn’t confident of the business working and that she never did things by halves. Her calculated gamble paid off and shortly after setting up the factory Nimisha was approached by a number of big retailers, who wanted to sell Nim’s Fruit Crisps, including Coop, Ocado and Tesco, with the latter listing in approximately 1400 stores from February this year. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of activity for Nimisha and her team and they’ve received awards and accolades, been interviewed by the New York Times and even had their crisps selling at Wimbledon. Nimisha, at 54, now finds herself busier than at any other time of her life, but says she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I think being in your fifties only means things slow down and get boring if you let them. Running a business at full pace means I feel as energised and focussed now as I did in my twenties.” And her advice to others “Midlife means you might have another 50 years of living left….how exciting! Time to crack on and follow your dreams.”