Grow your business like Shivani’s Kitchen

Grow your business like Shivani’s Kitchen

< Back to Articles | Topics: Spotlight | Contributors: Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration | Published: February 1, 2024

From its humble beginnings as a meal delivery service in 2014, through the opening of its first restaurant in 2018 and plans for a second in 2020, Shivani’s Kitchen has been a Nova Scotia business powerhouse. With their long-planned expansion derailed by Covid and a global recession, the team immediately reimagined itself into the production of products for home cooks. They also offer a variety of recipes that are perfect for anyone looking for inspiration on how to use their products.

Venturing into manufacturing introduced many unforeseen challenges, notably the substantial difference between federal requirements for kitchen operations and the dynamics of a small restaurant.

Founder Shivani Dhamija, who is driven to overcome challenges and recognizes the value of continuous learning, pressed on. She attended Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) training and, after a substantial monetary investment and a deep dive into the myriad of rules, documents, and regulations, successfully established a facility for chicken meals. It paid off. Shivani's Kitchen doubled its sales that year.

Today, Shivani's Kitchen offers a wide range of Indian spice masalas and ready-to-use sauces for healthy and delicious meals.

Dhamija has a passion for cooking and sharing her love of Indian cuisine. When asked about any formal background in cooking, she credits her family.

“I only know that my mom and aunts make amazing food. That’s how I learned. I am no professional chef. I just know how my mom cooks. So, I’m self-taught, or mom taught.”

Shivani's Kitchen is committed to using high-quality ingredients. All their spice blends and sauces are free from preservatives and additives. This means that consumers can enjoy delicious Indian food without worrying about harmful chemicals or artificial flavours.

In 2019, when the company moved from supplying Sobeys Local to Sobeys Atlantic Canada, production had to go from 150 to 900 meals a week.

Dhamija credits the Workplace Innovation and Productivity Skills Incentive (WIPSI) program for their success.

The funding let them discover that with a small investment they could produce 3,000 meals per week.

“I moved my meals from 17 stores to 37 stores (Sobeys) in May 2023,” she says. “We are unable to distribute to all of the stores yet and waiting to get into the warehouse.”

WIPSI is a training grant administered by the Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration (LSI). The grant supports the development of new skills to help businesses increase their productivity, innovation, and competitiveness, while also addressing inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) — to make them more competitive outside Nova Scotia. WIPSI typically supports training on new software or equipment, continuous process improvement, and training that can make workplaces more inclusive.

Some examples of WIPSI training support include re-tooling and skill development, technology and optimization, robotics and automation, and IDEA training to help to improve an organization’s current services, workplace culture, and hiring processes. For eligible businesses and training, WIPSI can support up to 100 per cent of the direct training costs up to $10,000, and 50 per cent of the remaining training costs.

Through WIPSI, Shivani’s Kitchen participated in the SKU Food C.A.R.T master class skill development. The training transformed staff skills to allow them to grow sales and access markets previously not possible for the company.

The training starts with a business assessment prior to working through the C.A.R.T. process. This ensures participants proceed in a step-by-step manner to understand where to find and how to assess important consumer trends, learn how to align the business with retailer needs, create a retail action plan, and transfer learnings into relationships that build customer trust, increase sales, and help their businesses grow.

As a result of this training, Shivani’s Kitchen reported increased sales and increased competitiveness, while also developing new products.

“The training helped us use creative ways to promote it, and we also developed a new product which will increase the sales of the old product,” she says.

Dhamija says she also learned the importance of using locally grown vegetables and how they can improve business revenue.

Shivani’s Kitchen has also taken part in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system training and integrated cloud-based training, both supported by LSI; all of which, says Dhamija, have helped her business grow.

“More retail companies are interested in carrying our products now because we have been trained […] on how to handle our products,” she says. “We also now have a better knowledge of the costing of our products, and better chances to compete with other companies.”

Shivani's Kitchen has an unwavering commitment to community engagement. Dhamija believes that food has the power to bring people together and transcend cultural boundaries. To foster this spirit of togetherness, she organizes weekly community dinners where locals and visitors gather to share a meal, stories, and laughter.

Shivani's Kitchen extends its reach beyond its dining tables through monthly charity dinners. The business contributes a portion of the proceeds to local causes — from food banks to initiatives that empower marginalized communities. Shivani believes that good food should not only tantalize the tastebuds but also contribute to the well-being of a community.

If you want to discover more about Shivani’s Kitchen and their products, recipes, or cooking classes, visit: .

And to learn more about available funding to support improvements in productivity and innovation, take a look into the WIPSI program at:

< Back to Articles | Topics: Spotlight

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