A Female-led Global Gelato brand: Nakhati

The brains behind the upscale gelato brand is Eman Fallatah – Culinary Director – Nakhati – KSA. Eman, who was born in Jeddah and currently resides in Riyadh, had a secret passion for food that her parents at first disapproved of. She gave up her day job to pursue her passion. She is now a prosperous food entrepreneur who is committed to fostering domestic talent, particularly among women. The Saudi-inspired ice cream at Nakhati concept store, which was not only created by women but is also run by them, comes in flavors like rose, saffron, and honey.

Nakhati is Kerten Hospitality’s latest launch. Kerten Hospitality is a mixed-use, ESG and lifestyle operator. They manage and operate your hospitality project, transforming the destination through impactful collaborations with their own and/or other Food & Beverage, Retail, Entertainment, Art and Wellness brands focusing on curating Ecosystems and unique community-centric environments.

1. How did you enter the franchise business?

Allow me to briefly introduce myself and our organisations that, I believe, would provide the context for the rest of our discussion. I am the Culinary Director of Nakhati KSA. Nakhati is part of Kerten Hospitality’s portfolio of lifestyle brands.

Kerten Hospitality is a mixed-use, ESG and lifestyle operator, managing/operating hotels, branded residences, serviced apartments and collaborative workspaces complemented by Food and Beverage, retails and health and wellness components. It is a truly global Group that creates brands with a purpose, focuses on the communities around its projects and contributes to the building of self-sustaining Ecosystems in different global locations and projects with different components. Nakhati is one such brand created with a Purpose. Its mission is to create a true amazing Gelato brand and to remove the hurdles for female entrepreneurs to franchise Nakhati, by making the access to finance easier and supporting the women franchisees through mentorship, community and support. Nakhati is launching in KSA, but is set to grow global, with a local face and a driver in each market. I am the driver of Nakhati in KSA.

Our first Nakhati Concept store just opened. It is created around the idea to support and build strong female-owned businesses throughout the world. It starts from Riyadh in KSA, but the concept is going global where it will be adapted per each destination, flavours and community needs. Most importantly, the local needs are also related to the challenge for women to get financing, and Nakhati facilitates this with the support by some financial institutions who are strong in Responsible operations and initiatives.

Already large finance institutions have expressed their believe in us and want to support women to enter business, and the great thing is that we have their backing. One thing to note is that our brand Nakhati is not just a pro-women brand but we address business hurdles and challenges.

2. Where and how did the idea of your concept come from?

It derived from the demand for great premium adult gelato that is inspired by and offers local flavours.

Nakhati is an authentic, homegrown ‘Gelato Sweetery’, providing premium, handcrafted flavours. It’s a premium artisan gelato with origins from Italy and adapted flavours locally. Karak tea, rose flavours, dates, honey and nuts, as well as saffron are just few of the flavours of Nakhati. It’s truly handmade with passion by a global team of experienced hospitality professionals.

3. What inspired the brand name?

The Local culture where Nakhati was born – which in translation also means “My Flavours”. Our culture today and tomorrow has served as the biggest inspiration. So was the diversity of the world we live in.

It is all about the Locality.

4. What is the story behind the brand’s logo?

It’s our culture and the beauty and the modern tradition of henna and Arabic calligraphy in our part of the world.

The Nakhati logo is crafted using a modern look that conveys femininity and boldness with the aim to express the values of Nakhati.

The emphasis on the attached letters “ati” comes from a desire to highlight the “possessive”. My Gelato, my taste, my choice. Essentially, it is a special bespoke brand for a personal female expression in the Arab world.
The Arabic lettering equivalent is elegantly custom designed to convey simplicity, heritage, and excellence.

5. What makes your brand different from your competitors?

From the very first day, we have had a purpose and a mission in our minds – to support local businesses and to build local businesses through providing franchise opportunities to female entrepreneurs. Not many brands can share the same Purposeful concept. When it comes to Gelato in KSA, we love Etna.

6. What are the essential qualities that you look for in a franchisee?

We are looking for talented women who are ready to own their very own store, but just need to be given the opportunity. Preferably with experience in F&B or with love for Gelato, who are hard working and ready to run all aspects of it. Plus, the culture fit is pivotal. Being organised and having put in place a centre around the financial aspect within the franchise growth in the operational structure of the franchise is equally important.
The key question would be finding that perfect entrepreneurial gelato-lover who can turn a store location into a Social HUB.

7. How long does it take, on average, for your franchisee to realize their investment?

We have developed multiple formats that can then be adapted further depending on the location and sales potential of the unit.

As gelato is a high-value product we are able to achieve pricing and margins that are significantly more commercially robust than comparable offers such as regular ice cream parlours or coffee shops.
The levels of capital investment are also obviously a factor when looking at payback but certain formats in high traffic locations can achieve cash fairly fast depending on the size of the store, if it is a kiosk or a cart. You can return the investments from a kiosk in no time as we have all the needed pieces to hit the ground running and the global team of experts to support every step of the way.

8. What was the major challenge you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

Without any particular reason, and thankfully for a very brief moment in time, I lost my passion or food and quit working for 3 months. I had recently returned with a revived and stronger passion than ever. I had rediscovered the true sense of foodie love. I am now buzzing with ideas on how to grow a business network of Saudi women that will have tangible result.
By changing careers, I managed to overcome the industry slowdown and replace it with an incredible uptick in growth.

8.1 What is your best achievement?

That would be Nakhati’s flagship store opening in Riyadh in the city’s business Hub; what is essential is that apart from offering delicious gelato, the store will also provide a platform for young designers to exhibit their work through a rotating Residency Programme.
In the store, every part of the guest experience will have its own story, from the gelato to the chinaware and to the design. This story will vary across the franchisee’s locations/countries and regions. A great highlight in our endeavour is that we have partnered with Saudi mural artist Noura Bin Saidan, the Saudi female artist responsible for 16 large-scale street-art works of famous singers and writers from the Middle East that adorn Riyadh Boulevard City. Her mural will be part of our canvas supporting the art community in the city.

The rest of the Concept Store is transformed into a cultural space for designers and artists to show their work as well with various activities and engagements to start in September.

9. How does your business day start?

Am an early riser. The day starts with yoga, then coffee in the office – which is more of a community location – a social Hub coffee shop right next to my residence. Most importantly, the day is filled with optimism about new things, new people, new connections and new opportunities to do what you are passionate about.

10. What was your best moment throughout your franchise career?

I believe the best moment and a franchise milestone would be the opening of Nakhati because of its mission, values and core Purpose.

11. Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?

I would slightly paraphrase the question here in this way: Where do I see Nakhati KSA within the Group’s lifestyle portfolio of brands and global expansion plans.
You will most probably see us in every major supermarket in the Kingdom along with some 200+ branches and unites of different sizes globally.
Most importantly, I believe that in 5 years we would have inspired a cohort of women-owned and run businesses to take off and grow.

12. Any tips you want to impart to our readers who want to be in the franchise industry?

Decide what your purpose is, think about the possibilities and do not be afraid to take a leap of faith. Make sure that within the process of launching your business you always choose 1) to do what you love and 2) you always stay loyal to the purpose of your franchise. Be bold and grow, connect locally to the community where you are and try to inspire the team to LIVE the brand values as well.

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