March 8, 2024 •

• Reading time 4 Minutes

Women cooking up success: stories of resilience and ambition

To celebrate International Women’s Day and the contribution of women in the restaurant and hospitality trade, Just Eat talked to a number of female partners blazing a trail in a competitive environment. 

“My day job is, as you can imagine, pretty stressful – most people are surprised to hear this but running my own cake business is actually like my own personal therapy!”

An emergency care practitioner by trade – working in a GP practice as well as in A&E in her local hospital – Faiza Javid also excelled as a hobby baker before deciding to take the leap to open her own cake shop and cafe, Kremee Cakes, based in Sutton.

She explains: “I like to say that the business is run on woman power – it’s my mum, sister and I doing all the baking and operations, and my brother helps out front of house. 

“There are so many women out there who are fantastic chefs, entrepreneurs and bakers but there needs to be support to encourage them into the industry – it feels like there is a lot of untapped potential.

“Diversity in any industry, but especially the food and restaurant industry, is so important. We see a lot of the same faces over and over again in the media. If we’re not giving everyone equal opportunities, we’re letting everyone down.

“I think we only win when everyone wins – and there’s so much to be excited about when it comes to food and culture! Encouraging people from all backgrounds into the food industry only makes it an even more exciting place to be.”

Diversity and inclusivity are topics close to another Just Eat partner, Alali, owner of Princelyn, based in Hackney, London. 

“As a woman in business I’ve often found it hard to get support from others across the industry –  I’ve found that sometimes people don’t think you’re as capable which can be really discouraging.”

“I think it would be helpful if leaders in the food industry offered more support for independent businesses, by sharing knowledge and offering training on how to expand and grow small businesses.” 

“To encourage women entrepreneurs in the industry we need to drive more awareness of women owned businesses and also bring them together so that they can learn from one another and discover new perspectives.” 

“Diversity is really important in any industry. It brings together different experiences, skills, training and backgrounds which creates more opportunities and knowledge”.

“I’m really shocked at the gender disparity that exists in the hospitality industry. It shows that we need to take action and more work needs to be done by the government to even the playing field.

“I’m grateful to have the support of Just Eat as my business. Search ‘African cuisine’ in our area on the app and I’m one of the first to be suggested. It’s really helped us reach new customers that we wouldn’t usually have access to.” 

Yamina, owner of The Frenchy London, based in Balham also highlighted the difficulty facing women in accessing support for their business. 

“Food has always been central to my life. My mum was a baker for local supermarkets and I grew up waking up to the smell of freshly cooked bread. She instilled in me an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age – she would wake up as early as 3 AM to begin baking and I would often help her in the kitchen.

“She is a big inspiration to me and encouraged me to pursue my own business – I wanted to show her that she taught me valuable skills. We speak on the phone almost everyday and she always tells me she is proud of me.

“Sometimes as women, due to gender inequalities, we can feel there isn’t a space for us in certain industries – particularly in the restaurant industry. We can underestimate ourselves a lot, but I believe with the right support there is nothing we cannot do.

“What I think would be helpful is if leaders in the food industry could work with local authorities such as councils to coordinate more events in local communities – making more information on how they can break into the industry more accessible. If something like that had been available in my local community before I opened The Frenchy – in fact even if it was available now – I would be the first one to sign up! I think a lot of the information and advice on how to start a business is not readily accessible to women from disadvantaged backgrounds.”