February 2022: Trader of the Month - Mandala Himalayan Dumplings
Tell us a bit about your business:
MANDALA is our female-powered street food venture supplying Himalayan-style dumplings making waves through London's street food scene.
Starting small in May 2021, we have come lengths and strides to bring what is traditionally a sit-down meal found in cosy hides in the mountainous countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet to the streets of London and beyond!
How eco-friendly are you?
We’re committed to minimising our impact on the planet – that’s why all of our dumplings are handmade using traditional Himalayan recipes with locally sourced, sustainable produce. It doesn’t stop there though; all of our packaging is biodegradable. So, once we’ve fed you, you can feed the planet by composting your empty packaging. We’re sure mother nature would love our dumplings too, but hey – we made them for you!
What are your vegan options?
Our vegan dumplings encapsulate a special blend of vegan-friendly ingredients, combined with a touch of garlic and ginger, this is then all wrapped up in a doughy wrapper which is blended with spinach, to give its naturally green looks.
How do you promote yourself and how important is it?
We’re very big on promoting ourselves on social media, and we’re lucky to have our business in the digital age. We put a lot into our presentation and we’re fortunate to be able to share our dumplings and experiences with the world, but we also admire businesses that were able to flourish before social. There’s something special about word of mouth.
What skills do traders need to have?
Every single dumpling that we produce is made entirely by hand, which is tricky and fiddly business and has taken us both years to perfect the shape. It’s kind of therapeutic once we get into the flow of things!
How important is customer service?
Dumplings are traditionally a friendly affair, made at family gatherings and parties in our respective home countries. That’s why we like to extend that feeling to our customers. One thing we really love is helping people break their dumpling virginities and seeing the looks on people’s faces when they realise what they’ve been missing.
What do you like most about trading at Catford Food Market?
What. We really like about Catford is the community. We’ve only traded here at Catford just once before but we’ve never felt so welcomed into a new location, we knew Catford was the one for us. The organisation is some of the best we’ve come across so far and the vibe is just right for us – plus the sweatshirts are really nice too!
What are your plans for the future?
We think we’d like to stay on the streets. It’s where we started and it’s what we had wanted to achieve from the start. Maybe we’ll think about a permanent fixture further down line, or some sort of pop-up style residency but we’re young as a business and we’re still enjoying the street food experience. Who knows what the future holds?
How important is branding to you?
Our brand is extremely important to us, and when starting MANDALA we knew we wanted to take our traditional fare in a more modern direction. We’ve kept things very modern and minimal, so that we can let our food do the talking.
What is your idea of success?
We recently quit our jobs to take MANDALA full-time. We’re loving the fact that we now have the freedom to do something that we really enjoy. The hours are long and starting a new business venture is always worrying but getting to see and trade at new locations is always something we look forward to. We’re starting to see frequent faces appear at the stall and it’s nice for us to see that we’ve built up a small-but-loyal customer base already and it’s something that always takes us by surprise.