Vasant Kunj, Delhi, India
Vasant Kunj, Delhi, India
When children leave their homes to give their education and career a shape, it brings a sense of contentment and pride to the parents. It also leaves behind a feeling of empty nest syndrome for the parents, at least for a little while.
Sarita Jha found herself in a similar kind of situation when both her children moved to the US for pursuing their respective degrees and career. After the initial phase of settling down, she eventually realised that it was time for her to do something of her own, to discover a sense of purpose again and to give back to the society what she had mastered in all these years.
Cooking had always been her forte. But now it was time to take it to the next level, beyond her home kitchen. That’s how she ventured into her entrepreneurial journey with Old Roots – her very own pickle brand.
Just as the name defines, her recipes are made according to the traditional style that has been passed down from generations.
It’s been 5 years now and she has customers from all across the country. People demand her pickles, snacks and chutneys from different states and regions.
The secret lies in authenticity and taste and her preparations reflect superior quality.
As of now, she does most of the work with the help of two helpers. Her husband also has been a constant support in her journey and extends help as and when required.
The recommendations and reviews make her happy and motivate her to keep going.
Let’s talk to her about this journey.
1. How did this idea come up?
I have always been eager to have something of my own and had been toying with the idea of starting a food business. The real push came when my daughter left to pursue her studies and I was left behind with a lot of free time.
2. Where did you start first?
I started with making small amounts of pickles and chutneys at my home and contacting grocery store owners in the neighborhood to educate myself on the market of such products.
3. What made you start with pickles only? Why didn’t you think of something else?
When I started my business, my goal was to have a pan India customer base, hence, I wanted to come up with products that would not spoil during shipping and would sustain the diverse weather conditions in different parts of the country. Even now, when I think about experimenting and adding new products in my menu, I always keep this in mind.
4. What makes your pickles stand out?
I grew up in the Mithila community of Bihar which is steeped in culture and tradition. I saw my mother prepare pickles by following the traditional recipes that have been curated and refined over generations. I have been blessed with the knowledge of traditional pickle making and have practiced over decades. The flavors that stem out of deep-rooted tradition and culture cannot be replicated and one of my goals has always been to share those flavors with the rest of the country.
I would also like to add that I take special care in the selection of ingredients, preparation and sanitation.
Along with following traditional recipes, I also experiment with high nutrition foods so that my customers get to experience the Mithilanchal flavors without compromising on health.
5. What keeps you going?
I am passionate about cooking and I now get to share it with over 1000+ customers. Over the 5 years, this business has redefined my sense of purpose and has also made me financially independent. I also enjoy the massively positive feedbacks on my products which fuel my confidence.
6. What are your plans for future?
With the kind of response and demand that my products have received, I now not only plan to expand my customer base in India but also start shipping abroad. I already get a lot of orders from outside India but due to technical limitations, I am not able to take up deliveries currently. But very soon, you will find my products have a global reach.
7. What does cooking mean to you?
Happiness and satisfaction.
8. How does it feel to be an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship comes with so much learning and responsibility. It feels great to be able to multitask efficiently and I am discovering new abilities and learning new things every day.
9. How has your family and friends reacted to your venture?
I have largely received positive reactions but my children are the happiest about me being an entrepreneur and they are my biggest cheerleaders.
10. What message do you have for women who want to start something of their own?
My only message to women wanting to start is ‘Don’t fear to start.’ The right time is Now. Planning, assessment, market analysis are absolute essentials and need to be figured out before beginning, but one can start small in the initial phase. Experience and practical handling teach a lot. So go for it!
Want to try Sarita’s recipe? Here’s the link.
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