Member Spotlight: Sherpa Foods
Member Spotlight: Sherpa Foods
Nurbu Sherpa and his family founded Sherpa Foods in 2015 with a mission to bring delicious Nepalese delicacies made locally with fresh and natural ingredients to consumers. Based in South Burlington, VT, Sherpa Foods produces traditional Nepalese cuisines including Momos (Nepalese dumplings), Himalayan Style Vegan Chowmein (Fried Noodle), Himalayan Style Vegan Fried Rice and Momo Sauce (Himalayan Style Hot Sauce) in Mild, Hot and Sesame flavors. They supply their products to various Vermont coops, health food stores, supermarkets and online at Amazon.
As a business owner, Nurbu says he is most proud of the ability to create and provide jobs in his community. Giving back to those same communities where they live, work and play is also important. “Being able to control our own destiny, future and lives,” is the most rewarding aspect of owning his own business. Nurbu emphasizes that both success and failure is up to the owner. With that said, Nurbu says everyday becomes a challenge, but in a good way. “You never know what type of challenges, problems or surprises are waiting around the corner. So, you just have to be patient, creative, persevere and solve one challenge at a time,” Nurbu advises.
When asked about the effects of COVID-19 on his business Nurbu shares that, “It was very tough when the pandemic first hit. We had just moved into our new location at the beginning of this year and were getting ready to increase our production to meet our increasing demands of our products, but everything came to a halt.” And overnight the company’s sales dropped by almost 50-60%. Not knowing what the future would hold, Nurbu says they had to lay off their employees. Like many, Nurbu and his wife took on the increased workload, putting in 14-15-hour days while simultaneously taking care of their 6-year old once schools shut down. While it was stressful, Nurbu says they, “also realized that these were difficult times for everyone and even tougher for some than others,” and decided to move their monthly meal donation to the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) to a weekly donation.
Nurbu acknowledges that things are slowly getting better, though it is still not what it used to be. Pivoting to increase sales and consumer access, Sherpa Foods signed up with food delivery services like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub. They also increased their product line variety by adding two new Vegan options: Himalayan Style Vegan Chowmein (Fried Noodle) and Himalayan Style Vegan Fried Rice.
Offering some important reminders for new business owners Nurbu says, “Don’t let the business own you. I know it’s easier said than done but make sure to have work – life balance and remember your family should always come before your business.” He also recommends to, “Never say no” and instead, offer to try. Nurbu says that it is, “better to try and fail than not try at all. Be willing to take calculated risk.”
Sherpa Foods joined VSFA to network with fellow entrepreneurs to learn from their experience and expertise in the industry. Nurbu highlights that, “being a VSFA member has helped us get information that is important to VT business owners,” for instance receiving any updates on changes to rules and regulations that could impact their business. Nurbu also finds value in being able to share their own business experiences with the VSFA community.
To learn more about Sherpa Foods, their products, community outreach, and more: