"Currently, we have fourteen kits on the market."
Sisters Julia and Nadia Latif are the owners of Our House of Spice, a spice kit firm based in Inverness-shire.
The business produces Indian spice kits that are based on family recipes, selling them to people across the UK.
The pair formed the company in 2012 after becoming miserable in their full-time jobs.
The plunge came after one of the friends suddenly passed away.
Julia explained: “This was the catalyst that made us realise that life is too short to be unhappy.
“We both quit our jobs the next day.
“At that point, we didn’t have a plan, we only knew that we wanted to work together – it was a case of now or never.”
When the sisters decided to go into business together, Indian food came up as one of their passions.
Julia told The Herald: “Initially when we launched the business, we released a range of ready meals however we found it difficult to keep up with demand.
“We started researching alternative products that had a longer shelf life and were easier to produce.
“After a lot of research and product development, we launched five-spice kits onto the market.
“They were very popular so we carried on increasing our spice kit range.
“Currently, we have fourteen kits on the market.”
Because equipment was relatively low-cost, the sisters invested their own money.
As the business grew, they continued to re-invest so they could develop new products. This includes catering spice kits for restaurants.
On their biggest break, Julia said:
“We were awarded ‘Rising Star’ and ‘Best Small Business’ for Scotland at the Family Business Awards in 2018.
“It was like receiving validation for all of our hard work.”
However, the Covid-19 pandemic affected the business.
Julia explained: “I frequently attended food fairs and carried out cooking demonstrations, so having all these events cancelled had a dramatic effect on our turnover.”
On what she enjoys about running the business, Julia said:
“I enjoy having the responsibility to make Our House of Spice a success.
“The business doesn’t just belong to Nadia and I, it belongs to our whole family.”
“It’s made up of aunts, uncles and cousins from all over the world so there is a lot of pressure!
“I also enjoy collaborating with business support organisations like GrowBiz as they have been fundamental for our development.
“Their expertise in supporting rural businesses has been crucial for us and building these mutually rewarding relationships is a hugely enjoyable part of running a business.”
But it can be exhausting as Julia added:
“Running a business is exhausting, both mentally and physically.
“Sometimes I need to turn off my phone and close the laptop to regain some clarity.
“It doesn’t happen often but I find it a really useful exercise, even if it’s just for an hour or so, every now and then.”
For the future, Julia says:
“Our online shop is growing and will continue to grow and recover from the pandemic, which is fantastic.
“Personally, I am also looking forward to championing women’s rights in any way I can, whether on a business level or if some women need personal help.
“I feel we have a responsibility to look after others who are vulnerable.”