Women Entrepreneurs: Revati Bhoj: Godwa Homemade Delicacies

Revati Sudhir Bhoj has a Bachelors in Hotel Management and Catering Technology (BHMCT). She is an entrepreneur and has her own venture named ‘Godwa Homemade Delicacies’.

Instagram: godwa_homemade_delicacies

1. What is the backstory to the beginning of your homemade delicacies?

It was all accidental. I had so much free time during the lockdown, so I started exploring new recipes and trying unique flavours. We all were health-conscious in those days, so I decided to make something healthy and tasty. I have a sweet tooth and at the end of a meal, I need something sweet and makhana (fox nuts). Makhana has a lot of health benefits and we also know the importance of ghee. I mixed the two things to make it healthy and nutritious; everybody loved that combination. I decided to start a small-scale home business that promoted healthy delicacies.

2. What are your thoughts on healthy snacking?

We all need that 5 pm snack; hence I thought choosing healthy and fresh snacks over packaged and processed munchies is always a good choice.

3. What are the various delicacies prepared at Godwa?

Makhana Ladoos, Chocolate Coconut Ladoos, Besan Ladoo, Suji Ladoo, Chocolate Walnut Fudge, Nutty Mawa Gujiyas, Chocolate Barks, and Roasted-Flavored Makhanas.

4. What inspired you to create the makhana ladoos? 

My Sweet Tooth

5. What are the different flavors in roasted makhana? 

We have Cheddar Cheese, Peri Peri, Tomato, Salted, Tangy Masala and Caramelized flavours in roasted makhana.

6. What flavours do chocolate barks come in?

The flavours are Gulkand, Coffee- Caramel and Salted Nuts.

7. Is there a special menu for special occasions?

Yes, the menus are different as per the occasion.

8. What difficulties did you encounter while preparing the delicacies?

You cannot decide on the standard recipe in one go. You have to keep preparing the dish until it’s perfect. It’s all a trial and error game. Find what’s working in your favour and make the delicacy desirable. The quality of the product has to justify the cost of the product. It is vital to use good quality ingredients. Price your product correctly so that it does not affect your profit margin but also goes with the quality of the product. 

9. Do you accept orders from outside Pune, given that you are in Pune?

Yes, I accept orders from all over India, but the menu differs.

10. What advice would you give other women entrepreneurs?

Small ideas and the courage to start something of your own will give you a lifetime of independence, will make you stronger, and the rest sky is the limit.

Women Entrepreneurs: Shrutika Kolapkar : The Magic Oven

Shrutika Santosh Kolapkar is a 23 year old Hotel Management graduate. She has 6 months of experience as a bakery intern at Hyatt, Pune. Shrutika started her own bakery ‘The Magic Oven’ two years ago.

Instagram:  _.the_.magic._oven._

1. Is there a relationship between the names magic and oven?

Yes. When we first came up with the name ‘The Magic Oven’, we were pretty happy. The word magic represents the magical taste of our products and the oven is a word that describes a bakery perfectly. So yes, there is a relationship between the names Magic and Oven.

2. When did you first bake a cake, and how old were you?

I baked my first cake when I was 16 years old.

3. What are your ideas on branding?

From my perspective, the quality of your products builds your brand. Currently, I am focusing on improving the quality of our products.

4. What has surprised you the most about owning a business?

The thing that surprised me the most about owning a business is independence. I can be creative in my ways and I can work on my ideas.

5. Describe a handful of the customized cakes you have created.

I have made so many customized cakes so far. Wedding cakes, photobomb cakes, truffle cakes, and many more.

6. Is it more challenging to build a two-tier cake than a customized cake?

No. Because I have to be more creative while making a customized cake. It is easy to create a two-tier cake than a customized cake.

7. What are the most popular cupcakes among your customers?

Customers love our truffle and Dutch chocolate cupcakes the most. Pineapple, strawberry, and blueberry cupcakes are also very popular among our customers.

8. What inspired you to make a piñata cake?

The first time I made it was in a customer’s demand. Later I experimented with some things with the piñata cake to make it more attractive and tastier.

9. Have you had any achievements that could inspire other business owners?

Yes. I’ve motivated 40+ students to start their businesses by teaching them how the bakery industry works. And I consider it my most outstanding achievement.

10. Do you have any advice for women who own small businesses?

My best advice will be to keep going. There’ll be a lot of difficulties on your way; you have to be strong enough to face them all and you will achieve what you deserve.

Women Entrepreneurs : Bhakti Motta (Rainbows and Hues)

Bhakti has 10 years of experience in distribution and wholesale in the garment industry. Recently, she started her own stationery store called ‘Rainbows and Hues’

Instagram: @rainbowsandhues

1. When did you know you wanted to take an entrepreneurial path?

Having my family members in the garment industry and business, I always wanted to do something in business but wasn’t sure what particular industry to go into. I often thought I would join the garment industry, but I didn’t find it to be the calling I was looking for. It took me time to go through the journey and learn some lessons on the way to the path I am on now.

2. How do you decide what to stock up on especially since you have a variety of products? Do you follow any shopping trends?

Generally, I don’t follow any shopping trends, it’s all based on my research. As an artist, I wanted to start my own business. In 2019, I found that the product sellers weren’t very knowledgeable about their product. There are four types of watercolour paper. Therefore, the sellers are not aware of the perfect paper to use. I realized that this industry has a lot of room for improvement. Because all schools are closed in Hyderabad due to the pandemic, art supplies like drawing books and colours for children are in high demand. Therefore, we stock up on what our customers need.

3. How did you come up with the name ‘Rainbows and hues’?

While I came up with the entire idea, I couldn’t find a name. As a result, when I visited my partner, my best friend, she came up with the name ‘Rainbows and hues’ as she completely understood me. She understood what I wanted to achieve. At the moment, it is a store, but in the future, it will be a place for everyone to learn. Additionally, it’s a place where people can collaborate with artists. Within a year or two it will also be a place where you can exhibit your art. R & H will be a community.

4. What goals are you still working towards achieving?

The first step is to launch our website so I can directly communicate with my clients and artists, so they can buy everything under one roof. The in-house brand ‘my art pitara’ will be a readymade kit that includes all products and supplies. If you wish to learn water-colouring, for example, all the products will be available in this pitara. We were unable to start classes because of the pandemic, but we hope to start classes soon.  

5. Which is your favourite stationery?

It’s difficult for me to choose just one. I currently have a book on my desk. I had bought this book when I was a child, and it comes with a lock. I am a complete stationery hoarder and I love all the stationery products. So now that I own a shop, I can collect all the stationery products and sell it. Another favourite stationery is a good pen. You must have books and pens in your life.

6. How would you handle a client you were unable to form a positive relationship with?

We already have a conversation with customers who buy online. We had a customer who had placed an online order for the first time. They asked for photos of all the products and feared not to receive them. So I had a conversation with them and assured them that they would get their order in time. It was important to let the customer trust us especially since it was their first online order. Speaking with clients is very useful.

7. What difficulties did you face initially as a female entrepreneur?

I had no plans to set up a physical store immediately. The plan was to sell products online via Instagram for a period of time, then start a store. But within a month, I had the opportunity to set up a store. The shop needed a lot of changes so I used to tell the workers about the changes and they didn’t agree. But when my father and brother tell us the same thing, it seems logical to them. There were some financial issues as well. If somebody wants to get into business, they need to save money first. I wish I knew that sooner. But it is important to save money at the beginning of your twenties to help you in your future.

8. Do you provide a web ordering experience? How do you sell your brand?

Presently, we sell products on Instagram and WhatsApp. One month from now, we will have a website that will help us reach more customers. We also sell on Amazon, as mentioned earlier, I write a short word for every customer. Few customers come to us looking for other products and become our customers. There are executives who are willing to work with us by reviewing positive client feedback. I maintain positive relationships with my customers and those I do business with, which helps us sell our brand.

9. Which 3 words will they use to describe the shopping experience with Rainbows Hues?

The store is very organized. Our customers can come in and check out the products showcased. Clients do not need to request the availability of a product like other stores. The physical structure of the store is different and it provides a good vibe. We built this place so customers don’t need someone to help them out. We provide assistance only when necessary. Our clients are looking forward to the start of our workshop.

10. What are your biggest learnings so far?

First, my whole journey of all the different roles is now coming together and making sense. I’ve been a writer, photographer, traveler and all this is helping me right now. Even if a few things didn’t work in the past or if you failed, you will learn from those mistakes.

11. What advice would you give women small business owners?

Dream big. Women of Indian origin tend to dream small. Nothing is impossible. We need to be more confident and be ready to fulfil our big dream. I had thought of starting this store after two years, but this place is huge with ground plus two floors. I couldn’t let this opportunity pass. When a good opportunity comes, grab it. Grab the opportunities whenever you get the chance.

12. What is your favourite print on stationery and why?

We have books with prints and the word ‘gratitude’ written on them. The prints are very beautiful and soothing. I own one of the books and I use it as my journal to write at least five things I am grateful for every day. I write the things I want in life as a form of manifesting.

13. Do you stock up different stationery for different festivals or days?

We started two months back, so the first festival we had was Christmas. We had stock things up with a Christmas theme. There were gift wrappers, moulds with Christmas ornaments. Valentines’ day is coming soon, so we have stocked up heart shape canvas and trying to get heart shape keychains. We try to stock things up according to the trends, festivals, etc. We’re trying to make this store a one-stop shopping experience where all the products are available for our customers.

Women Entrepreneurs: Urjita Kshatriya (Idecution)

Urjita Kshatriya has done her B.E Instrumentation and started her own venture, Idecution. She has experience of 6 years in this field. You can connect with her on LinkedIn

1. Describe yourself in a sentence.

A practical, independent and self-reliant person who lives life on her own terms.

2. What were the thoughts on your mind when leaving a stable job to start a business?

Starting my own company was on my mind right since school days but I didn’t have a plan for doing it.

When I left my job, I didn’t know whether I would start a business or not. The idea for the business came after 3-4 months of leaving my job.

3. Why did you opt for digital marketing, that too for MSMEs in particular?

I had started exploring digital marketing with the intention of learning more about it. Since I already had offline marketing experience, I wanted to learn more about online marketing. But while learning digital marketing, I realised that MSMEs don’t leverage this and this can be a good business opportunity. Bigger brands have deep pockets for marketing, but the excitement of getting some unknown businesses noticed and getting them customers is something that keeps me going and working with MSMEs.

4. How did you come up with your company’s name?

When we started in Jan 2016, the company name was Vivo Marketing Solutions. During the same time, Vivo mobile gained a lot of popularity and most of the people thought that we had used that name whereas that was not the case. So in 2017 when we decided to form LLP I wanted to go for a unique name. That’s how we coined the name Idecution = Ideas + Execution. This is also because ideas are easy but executing them is the tough part.

5. What challenges have you faced while starting and sustaining your business?

I view challenges as opportunities to improve both at individual and business levels. That’s probably why I don’t have any specific challenges to talk about.

6. What impact has the pandemic had on your business?

The pandemic helped us understand that the process and practices at Idecution have stood the test of time. For eg: Right from day 1, our data was on cloud and so it was easy to switch to working from home. Also, most of our day to day activities are documented in the form of processes. This ensured an easy induction process for the new joinees.

In 2019, I had envisioned that Idecution will work on a remote working model. But I had parked the idea thinking that if we do it then maybe our prospective customers will not take us seriously. Because of the pandemic, we were “forced” to switch to remote working and from July 2020 we moved to a complete remote working model.

Also, before the pandemic, although there were no geographic barriers for our clients, our team was completely based out of Mumbai since that’s where our office was. But post-pandemic the new recruits have been from various locations and not just Mumbai.

7. Did you face any difficulties as a woman while dealing with clients?

Well, I have always been a strong-headed woman and as such have never faced any gender-related difficulties while dealing with clients.

8. What are your short-term and long-term business goals?

Short-term, I am looking at increasing my business turnover by 10x by 2024.

Long-term, I want our clients to think of Idecution whenever they have any marketing-related activity.

9. What are some of the challenges you face regarding catalysing innovation?

Getting everyone on the same page so that they can see the bigger picture.

10. Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently when you were first starting out?

I don’t think so, because whichever way things have shaped up, it’s been a great experience and I don’t want to change it.

Women Entrepreneurs : Sonali Agarwal (Ketki India)

Sonali Agarwal has an MBA in Marketing and she recently started her venture, Ketki India. Being from Jaipur, she brings beautiful blue pottery products handmade by different artisans to you.

Instagram : ketkiindia

1) How would you describe yourself?

I am an average simple girl from Jaipur with many dreams in her eyes with an urge to make her parents feel proud about her and close ones too. 

2) When and how did you start creating Ketki India? 

Ketki India was established last year (2020) during the pandemic. I send Diwali gifts to my digital marketing client every year. Last year, I made a few candles for them and to my surprise it got a good response. I immediately got orders for the candles. Initially, I started taking few orders as I already work as a full-time social media manager. Simultaneously, I started researching upon various type of jars. While researching, I came across Jaipur blue pottery jar and this struck me with the idea of the candle wax, an eco-friendly solution – soy wax. For the next couple of months, I worked on finding more about candles and fragrances and zeroed in on Jaipur pottery, soy candles and 15 fragrances in March.

3) What inspired you to start this business?

The initial order before starting Ketki India and few samples that I sent to some of my friends, got an amazing response. I wanted to support the local artisans through Ketki India. The feedback motivated me and inspired me to venture further. I connected with artisans who made Jaipur pottery. My basic motto is to support people who create art. That is how Ketki India was born. I started mixing the traditional Jaipur art with the modernity of soy wax candles so it will help artisans work reach your doorsteps through Ketki India.

4) How did you come up with the name for your business?

My father gave this name for my brand. Ketki India is my childhood name and I have never used it officially or publicly before this. My grandfather kept this name for me when I was little. Ketki means fragrance. Ketki is a flower which was going with the idea of scented candles and Jaipur blue pottery is related to Indian art. That’s how I kept the name ‘Ketki India’

5) What are the challenges you faced during the pandemic? 

Pandemic has been tough on businesses. As a small business owner, I faced many obstacles too but I took them as a challenge. This pandemic was a blessing in disguise. The lockdown during the pandemic gave me time to create Ketki India. There were some issues initially because I had already invested in new stock and there were no sales. Even deliveries weren’t happening as couriers were shut. The artisans had to be paid for the stock, the balance between production of stock and payment of the artisans was a real challenge. But with patience and determination I was able to deal with these.

6) What do you love most about running your own business?

I have the freedom to add the product and fragrances without any restrictions. People appreciate my work and like my products and I have been getting positive feedback.

7)  What platform/tools do you use for marketing your business?

I use social media only; I haven’t got any paid partnership with anyone yet. 

8) What role does social media play in your business? What do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages of using social media for your business?

Social media is the only hero of my business as it is the only tool I use for marketing. The support from friends and customers through word of mouth definitely helps me gain more customers and expand my business. The advantage is that I can promote and get instant feedback from my customers. It gives you a marketing platform. The disadvantage is you have to keep your account active to keep the business going. Staying connected for customer orders and queries, creating posts and reels, doing photoshoots, etc is time consuming. I need to be available online and reply promptly to any order requests. This creates social media anxiety.

9) Which scents do you find are the most popular among your clients? 

Fragrances like musk amber, mahogany, firdaus, lavender, vanilla and night blooming Jasmine are the most popular among my clients.

10) Tell us about a day at work. How does it start? What do you do?

Working from home and being a small business owner, everything depends on the number of orders. If there is a bulk order, I will be running for raw materials and working on completing the orders in time. Balancing work and personal life is a task. I am the only one working so I have got to perform all the roles to run this business. Many will relate to this as I am at a very initial stage of my business. There is no fixed schedule or timetable. I start my day from keeping an eye on the social media orders, then manufacturing, packaging and keeping the stock ready for dispatch. All this requires balancing, managing and handling everything. Every day is a different experience. 

11) What are the three most important values you follow at work?

As a person I believe in honesty, I don’t fake things, I am punctual and disciplined. I like to complete my work before the deadlines. Lastly, I believe in giving value for money to our customers.

12) How do you handle bad reviews, if any?

Honestly, I have got bad reviews related to damaged products only. I deal in fragile products and sometimes this happens due to mishandling of the parcels. When the customers inform me about receiving any damaged products, I try to replace it with new products as soon as possible.

13) What advice would you give women small business owners?

Follow your heart and do what your heart feels is right. If you want to start your business, start it with passion and then make it a source of income. When you are passionate about your work people can see it. If you are enthusiastic about your work, it does attract more people towards you. Put your heart into your business and everything will fall into place.