Interview with Teressa:
The Noori Restaurant

If I can’t find a job, why not create a job for myself

Teressa

-Written by Shraddha U.

If you think the 9/11 attack or genderism or cultural discrimination are the grounds to break somebody, let us hear from someone who overcame all these hurdles and emerged stronger than ever. Originally from Taiwan, Teressa did her High School initially in South Africa for about 1.5 years and then moved to the United States to finish her college degree in Graphic Designing in 2001.

About the Entrepreneur

Teressa has an innate love for design. She graduated her Grad School in Graphic Designing in 2001, which unfortunately happened to be in the same year as the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. The job market went crashing down due to this catastrophic attack and like many others, Teressa, an international student, was left with a dry job market and a fresh degree in hand searching for a job. She told herself,

“If I can’t find a job, why not create a job for myself”

She went knocking on every door of a retail store and asked for their business card and checked their website. She would then see if the website needed any improvements and then contacted the store with possible improvements in their websites in hopes of finding work for herself. She would break down her website package into parts and let the retailers choose the features they needed in their website and then started working as a freelance Graphic Designer. Eventually after working for a Family-owned business in California, she was offered a job and Visa sponsorship from the same business and ended up working with them.

Business Journey

After bookkeeping for the business for some time, Teressa eventually overtook the data inventory and business side to efficiently collect and store data as well as train employees on how to approach customers. After 10 years working with the same business, Teressa needed a change in her routine. She, with her partner opened an Indian restaurant now called “Noori” because of her love for Indian food.

Owing to her Chinese descent and with her limited knowledge of Indian food and its spices, she faced some traditional and cultural hurdles. Being a Chinese woman and the boss of the restaurant, workers in the restaurant looked thought of her as disparate and even customers looked down on her assuming she had no knowledge of Indian cuisine. In the efforts to improve her knowledge on the business, she herself practiced cooking every dish on the menu until she really understood the details of all the dishes and became an expert.

Business Strategies

For a business like a restaurant, social media plays an important role. Utilizing social media to make sure your restaurant is present on various websites, featured on blogs, etc. increases exposure for the restaurant and thereby attracts customers. Teressa being brutally honest, also mentions that the food which is even mediocre could be marketed in such a manner that customers respond to it positively. Initially, marketing should be done aggressively. The website for the restaurant should be updated with all the information related to special updates and discounts. Marketing should be done in forms of advertisements, flyers, articles written about the restaurant on social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Teressa also suggests that asking customers for reviews on various platforms like google, yelp, etc. highly attracts other customers towards the business.

The Sweet Story of Savoury Coconut Curry

Teressa had booked the restaurant for a huge group of 30 Malaysian travelers, for an evening. After talking to them, she realized that coconut curry is famous in their home country. Since the travelers were exhausted after 3 days of trip, she wanted to comfort them so she went ahead and tried the coconut curry for the first time in her restaurant.
It
became a hit with the travelers and the rest of the customers.

Proud Achievement

Teressa takes the utmost pride in the consistency of her food, especially the curries made in the restaurant. She makes sure that the curries are of the best quality and consistent taste every single day.
She does not hesitate in making the curry herself to make sure the recipe is perfect and then allows the chefs in the kitchen to follow the same recipe to ensure uniformity in her dishes.

Harships faced as a Woman alongside other challenges in the restaurant Industry

 

Being located in one of the prime spots for restaurants in the Bay area, Teressa had a lot of competition so to differentiate herself from the rest, she focused on making her restaurant to be the most authentic restaurant in the area.

A business like a restaurant business takes a slow start. It took about 3 years for the business to start making a good profit. Maintaining a customer’s expectations for offers and free giveaways also posed as a challenge for Teressa. 

People considered Teressa’s partner as the default boss, even though Teressa was the one who ran the restaurant. The notion that only a man can be the boss in the restaurant business is still so strong and this came as a shock to Teressa. She has to put in extra work to prove her worth as a woman owner and win everyone’s respect.

Lessons & Advice

“Successful leaders and entrepreneurs need to have a strong passion and motivation; their “why” to keep on going.”

No matter what socioeconomic background that you’ve come from, your personal experience will help others with their own struggles in many ways. “When you’ve been genuinely thanked by someone before, you will recognize that your efforts have paid off.” To find your ideal career path: focus on your strengths, morals and values. Do not be afraid of trying new experiences (even those that feel uncomfortable and scary). You will learn a lot from those experiences, and exciting new opportunities will come afterwards. Do not be scared of pursuing a new career path that is traditionally “unaccepted” by people. Your genuine interest and passion will accelerate towards your success in any career path that you choose. How? Because you will have a reason to keep pushing yourself no matter what circumstances may bring to your path.

Special Thanks

Birdseye thanks Angela Luong for taking the time to sit down with us and have this fantastic conversation. We wish you, your team, and Calm On the best of luck, and we look forward to seeing future projects from you.