Her drive for food started when she was very young. Even before her 10th birthday, she had started cooking meals at home and her dad always told her she was the best cook. It gave her a day to day thrill and drove her passion for making healthy meals into a profitable venture. On her Facebook page, she leaves herself an awful lot to do marketing fresh palm oil, plantain, Ada Onitsha yam, blended and regular crayfish, beans, tiger nuts milk, palm kernel oil, dry fish, three-litre (and above) bowls of soup, stew, nectar wine, etc.
Hi there, her name is Kotty-Ekapong Sunny Iyamba, the bubbly hardworking Cross River State-born food vendor and entrepreneur, who is profitably driving her food making skills on the internet.
On a day to day basis on the internet, she has finger licking pictures of what has been ‘concocted’ in her kitchen for the culinary delight of customers. From indigenously rich Cross River cuisine delivered in steaming hot bowls of Afang soup, Edi-kang ikong, Ekpang-nkukwo, Efere afia ebot, (white soup with goat meat), Okra (mixed with Ikpaladi), to meals not indigenous to her like Igbo bitter leaf soup, banga soup, Rivers Fisherman soup, etc, she doesn’t fantasy fix.
“My food on the internet is divine. Knowing social media as the largest market in the whole world, I just had to use that to my advantage. I created a different Facebook account from the one I had for frivolities. This one targeted 80% of clients and prospective clients living in Abuja and then used the remaining 20% for a general audience outside Abuja”, she tells www.calitown.com.
Importantly, her road to today has been spun around a few people and events. Yes, she didn’t just get here, the beginning was humble, even fickle. “When I was in university I cooked as a side hustle. My family friend in Calabar, Ekpo Mbang Eyu, will invite me to cook for large PDP gatherings on a monthly or quarterly basis in Ekori, Yakurr LGA, our community.” She utilized opportunities like this and marketed her cooking skills until she became the ‘official’ cook at these PDP gatherings. She also has “…been into different businesses like bedsheets making and sales, perfumes, make-up products sales, wedding gowns/accessories. I used the social media space so well and when I started the food business commercially, it wasn’t difficult having customers as my integrity with customers wasn’t in question, so my customers naturally moved on with me to the food business without complaining.”
In 2017 she told her husband she wanted to start the food business commercially and emphatically, he said No! Bent on convincing her husband to let her drive her passion further, she subtly told him: “I cook so well and whenever there was a gathering in my father’s house, I do the cooking, please it is not a bad idea making money from this passion” Her husband finally agreed and “…whenever he taste these meals now he tells me I can invest any amount in this business; he is proud of me.”
Is there something to her cooking? Yes: “When I cook, I avoid adding preservatives or additives. I avoid anything that will harm those consuming the food, like I always tell people I cannot give you what I can’t eat. My best dishes are any healthy Nigerian food. When I say healthy Nigerian food, it means that don’t involve frying and those difficult to make meals.” Additionally, “you know most people love to eat Ekpang but when they remember the stressful process, they just don’t bother. So I fill in the gap by preparing it for them at a cost. So far the patronage is massive, I must say. Most times I turn down orders as I don’t want to disappoint any customer. I have clients at home and abroad.”
There have been no undue advantages coming her way as the younger sibling of an internationally recognized music mogul and she has her reasons too for functioning without his patronage. “I don’t want people thinking being related to a celebrity shouldn’t make you hustle, although those who already know respect the fact I hustle regardless of my family ties to whoever”, she tells us.
Kotty is also a mother of four, an amazing set of triplets (two boys and a girl) and a second pregnancy brought forth a boy. “How I manage my home, hubby, kids and my 8am to 4pm job is purely God’s grace, a supportive hubby and my ability to multitask” she reveals.
As a parting shot she tells us that, “young people can actually sit at home and make real money without going out to look for any job. They can cook in smaller plastic bowls visit different offices and sell; they are filling a gap and making money. Apart from the fact that I have a degree in Marketing from the University of Calabar, what I have basically done is draw from my innate abilities and create a job for myself and several others.” There is a fervent spark in her eyes and many business years down the road for this young woman, blazing a special trail and presenting, especially, Cross River cuisine and others, to the world.
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