Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Be Inspired: How I turned my illness into a business


Be Inspired: How I turned my illness into a business

Olivia Maccossa.jpg

Virgin Media Pioneers invited Olivia Maccossa, the founder of Kunaka Kitchen, to tell her story about how she was inspired to start her business after being diagnosed with coeliac.


Name             Olivia Maccossa

From             London

Business        Kunaka Kitchen – pop up business selling Mozambique peri-peri gluten-free food.


I was at another festival, eating the same food as everyone else with slight regret. I knew that I was going to sick again later. Years before I was diagnosed with coeliac, meaning that any food products that included gluten were off limits for me. I am a massive festival goer, but no one ever catered for me; I always ended up ill.


In everyday life it was tedious to always have to read every food label to make sure I could eat it, so I started making all my own meals from scratch. I am originally from Mozambique, which is famous for marinating meat in peri peri sauce. Using these traditional influences in my dishes, I started to love cooking.


The business idea was planted…


When my close friend was pregnant she came to me to tell me that she couldn’t eat gluten anymore – along with a lot of other pregnant women she had met in the hospital. We discovered it was very common for women to become ill when they ate gluten during their pregnancy. I met a few of the women to show them some of the options they could make to have a healthy meal that’s still tasty. They loved it. It was then that the idea for Kunaka Kitchen started to form in my mind.


Before jumping in with my business idea, I wanted to test my dishes to a wider audience first. I took part in a pop-up street food party asking my friends and family to come along and bring one person I had never met. I prepared gluten-free, peri peri goat meat wraps for free, and said although people could pay me in cash if they wanted, they could also pay me by giving me some feedback.


I sold out within two hours.


After some amazing feedback and people wanting to pay me for my wraps, I saw that there was a definite market for the traditional flavours of Mozambique. That’s when I decided to go forward with Kunaka Kitchen. I wanted to put more gluten-free options on the market to really help people that struggle with their health just as I did.


Putting my business plans into place, the more interest I had the more difficult it was to put enough time into Kunaka Kitchen to make it work - I wanted to give it my all. So I quit my full-time job to focus solely on my business.


Moving forward…


I’ve learnt you need a plan or it’s very difficult to put things into action. When you have your own business the hardest part is that the only person to push you forward is you. I have an amazing support system – every business needs its own tribe!


After I attended the Virgin Media Pioneer Global Entrepreneurship Week events I learnt that you need to identify your power hour. I’m highly focused between 5 – 10am, so this is the time I focus on the hardest parts of my business with no distractions.


Not everything happens at once, but you need to give it time. I think failure can be one of the greatest things to happen to anyone. When something has gone wrong, see it like a pothole in the road. You’ll come across a lot in your life, and all you need to do is drive around it and keep on going. You’ll always be bigger than the obstacles that come your way.

In January, Kunaka Kitchen will be launching a supper club every Thursday evening in London. We will be serving 3 or 5 course meals that are full of Mozambique flavours – and it’s all gluten-free!


If you want to hear more about our upcoming pop-ups or supper club, let me know in the comments below or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Thought Leader

Great read need to get some of your gluten free, peri-peri gluten-free food.