Entreprenerial founder of Lisa's Healthy Foods, makers of Lisa's Hummus and Dips
Lisa Er began her food business making hummus at home for family and friends. At that time she was teaching part time and her youngest of three sons had just started school. Now she employees 30 staff and her products are sold in 92% of New Zealand’s supermarkets. The company boasts a 42% value share of the chilled dips market. Lisa’s story tells of how she grew a business from a great recipe.
Lisa started her business with a sack of chickpeas and a domestic food processor. Although her product was virtually unknown, Lisa took the innovative approach of creating a market through education – she introduced her buyers to the taste and nutritional goodness of hummus and built up market demand. Initially Lisa began supplying her homemade hummus to family and friends and the local doctor before graduation to making sales to the local health shop. With no existing brand in mind, Lisa took the advice of the health food storeowner and with her blue felt tipped pan, she labelled her plain pottles ‘Lisa’s Hummus’.
The pottles are no longer labelled with the blue felt tip pen, but the business philosophies behind Lisa’s Middle Eastern Food have remained surprisingly unchanged by the brand’s success. Decide who you are and what your principles are and never compromise them. Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. Integrity is absolutely vital in business.
Lisa Er tells her own story of turning her cottage industry hummus production into a successful, high profile brand, which encompasses a range of Middle Eastern foods. For Lisa Er building her business has been about hard work and dedication but it has also been about the ability to think outside the square to create the working environment of her choice and build the lifestyle she wants for her family.
She was named Business Woman of the Year for Auckland, 2000-2001, in the ASB Women Leaders Business Awards. In 2002 Lisa was named Her Business magazine Business Woman of the Year for the North Island. In 2006, Lisa sold the business and is now involved in pro peace initiatives, such as Nuclear Free NZ and the Aotearoa New Zealand Peace and Conflict Studies Trust, as well as working with immigrants. She was married to a Turkish Muslim for over 20 years and was a member of Diversity Trust, an organisation to help immigrants settle in this country. Her staff at Lisa's Hummus was made up of some 15 different nationalities. Lisa is a font of ideas about how to help everyone work together harmoniously.
In 2008 Lisa stood as a candidate for the Green Party of Aotearoa in Mt Roskill (Phil Goff's stronghold). The campaign provided Lisa with further in-depth knowledge about the lives of immigrants and refugees in this country.
Lisa's presentations are full of inspiration, warmth and humour, as well as the wisdom gained from traveling the amazing journey of life!
• Building a business
• Thinking Outside The Square