Nicole Ansoni is the owner of Inka, Kigali’s first and only Steakhouse. She’s cultivated a space that captures all of the elements that speak to something more than dining out. Inka Steakhouse is an experience that merges the satisfaction of the human senses: what we smell at the table, what we see when we look around,the sounds that our ears intercept— are all a supporting act in the quality of what we taste.
She tells her entrepreneurial journey with a sense of confidence and calmness that remind us that vulnerability is the string that holds the pearls of strength, perseverance and connection.
Below, a conversation on celebrating others as a way to remind ourselves of what really matters and how loving ourselves is the surest way to stay grounded in our purpose.
Narrated by Rita Umuliza
Would you do it [open a restaurant] again?
It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s the best decision I ever made. Now that I’ve learned so much, I wouldn’t do it the same way but I would do it again. I really felt that Inka was something Kigali needed to be here weather it was me or someone else, and that’s why I did it. You get up every day with new energy, feeling like ‘yeah, I can do it’ but sometimes you feel depleted at the end of the day but you have to keep taking the baby steps to start seeing things get better.
There is so much learning and unlearning over the course of our time on earth. One of the things I’m unlearning this season is what success looks and feels like. You’re an entrepreneur who calls the shots on your time and money. How do you stay grounded in your purpose in a world that glorifies the rat race?
If you’re not taught at home to be secure in yourself, it’s tough. You have to love yourself and if you’re secure in yourself, you can love everybody else and be happy for people. It doesn’t take anything from you, in fact, it enriches you to know people who are living their truth or who are joyful and happy and have an experience to share—that’s amazing. Those are the people you want around you in order to stay grounded.
What’s something about your job that people will be really surprised that you have to do?
Everything. It’s really part of the job. I wouldn’t advice [anyone] to own a salon if they don’t like to do hair. Stay in something that you understand and are good at because you want to motivate your staff and make them feel like they’re a team, of which you are apart of. They have to know that you are here with them, it really makes a huge difference.
What are you most captivated by right now?
Stories of perseverance. Right now I’m really interested in the next steps for me and the business so it’s really about understanding people’s experience, reading about entrepreneurs who have done it. I’ve been reading a lot. Interested in the failures. It reveals two things; if you’re at this place, it means you overcame but how did it change you as a person? your management style? your vision? It’s different for everyone but there’s so much you can learn. I’m inspired and interested in other people’s stories of perseverance, failures, self-doubt. How do you get beyond? What do you share, what do you not share with other people?
What fundamental tips would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
If you find yourself comparing, then you’ve missed the point.
What do you wish you had that you currently don’t?
Knowing how to manage my time wisely. The reality is, part of being an owner is being able to strategies. At some point, you have to figure out a way to maintain while adding more.