July 5, 2023

Kay’s Curries Goes Big with a Small Storefront in Boston Public Market

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It’s not a message anyone is expecting. But when you find out that Boston Public Market wants to give you a pro bono retail place to sell your products for a full year, you pay attention.

“They gave me a store in the Boston Public Market — for a whole year. They made it official last Thursday. I'm gonna start this Friday,” says Kalpana.

Chalk it up to hard work and persistence, both of which Kalpana Kethineedi has contributed plenty of lately. And keeping up with Kalpana, the owner and founder of Kay’s Curries and member of the Lowell/Lawrence group, means you’re always on the go.

How a Dry Soup Packet Inspired Kay's Curries

Kay’s Curries itself was born somewhat accidentally. “Initially it was a joke,” says Kalpana. “Cooking Indian food takes time and effort. But during COVID, we used to order from local groceries. Then when Amazon wasn't delivering and Instacart wasn't delivering, local farms would deliver. And they started adding things more than produce. And one of them happens to be soup mixes.” After Kalpana and friends joked about creating a just-add-water curry, the idea began to grow. Was it possible? Would there be a market? In September 2021, Kaplana decided to find out once and for all by launching Kay's Curries.

Kalpana, whose background as a tech product manager simplified the jump into launching and growing a business, regularly adapts tech lessons to her food biz. Really, she says, in terms of how you approach things, the two just aren’t that different. “The product manager role is very similar to a startup. Just like a founder, in product management, they say you’re the CEO of your product,” Kalpana says. And both come with their share of challenges, too. “Sunday night at this time, I was still driving back from New York, from a trade show. I was stuck in traffic both ways, going into New York and coming back from New York. It’s exhausting. But that’s what you do when you love what you do.”

That spot in Boston Public Market? It took work, too. “It’s run by a nonprofit organization that wants to promote local growers and manufacturers. So they started an entrepreneurship program last year. I said okay, I'll apply, and I got into the program. Then they have things you have to attend — and the classes — and you know you have to do a pitch. I did that in April. And I finally got the okay to announce that they gave me a store in Boston Public Market."

While it means better exposure and more work for Kalpana, for the public it means something else entirely: it’s now easier than ever to find Kay’s Curries. They’re still online at www.kayscurries.com and, as of July, they’re also officially at the Boston Public Market on Fridays and Saturdays (and maybe soon on Sundays, too).

Do you have news you want to share? Send it to programs@e4ever.org.

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