Seven women entrepreneurs who started businesses from their kitchens

From preparing beauty products and preserves to meads (honey-based wine) and running food services, a kitchen can be the starting point for many businesses. Here are seven women entrepreneurs who achieved super success after starting in their kitchens

Rashmi Pratap and Riya Singh
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Seven women entrepreneurs who started businesses from their kitchens

Seven women entrepreneurs who started businesses from their kitchens

Entrepreneurship is not a bed of roses. From developing a niche product or service to marketing them, finding a consistent customer base, and raising funds, entrepreneurship is really about burning the midnight oil. 

If the entrepreneur is a woman, things get even more difficult. Women have to balance work with home. Importantly, it is more challenging for them to raise funds as investors mostly favour men-led businesses.

The situation, however, is changing gradually. According to the WISER's Women's in India's Startup Ecosystem Report, venture capitalist or VC funding for Indian startups stood at 5.9 billion dollars in 2017, of which the share of women-led startups was 11 percent. By 2022, the funding increased to 21.9 billion dollars, with the share of women-led startups rising to 20 percent.

Many Indian women entrepreneurs, meanwhile, are discovering their route to success – start small, avoid external funding in the early stages, grow gradually and empower others on the way.

Some women who started businesses from home, and some specifically from the kitchen, are now scripting entrepreneurial success stories. Alongside, they are creating employment opportunities for others, especially women.

Here are seven entrepreneurs who transformed their kitchen experiments into successful businesses:

1. Megha Asher, Juicy Chemistry

Hours of laborious experimentation in the kitchen have catapulted Megha’s Juicy Chemistry into an international cosmetics brand. The ethically run, no-chemical, organic cosmetics company today sells everything from soaps and scrubs to dry shampoos and essential oils globally.

Among the first products she created was a coffee scrub for a friend as a wedding gift. Kitchen experiments and an investment of Rs 5,000 led to more products and in 2014, Megha founded Juicy Chemistry along with spouse Pritesh Asher. The company’s revenue was Rs25 crore in FY21.

Here’s more: How Coimbatore’s organic cosmetics start-up reached the world

2. Cerana Meads, Dr Yoginee Budhkar and Dr Ashwini Deore

When Yoginee was pursuing her doctorate in biotechnology in Mumbai in 2011, she met a professor from the UK. He told her about meads – an alcoholic beverage made using honey, spices and water. 

Eager to learn more, she began to explore meads in India. Unable to find one, she started her experiment in the kitchen with a litre of honey-water mixture and used the baker’s yeast instead of wine yeast for fermentation as it was easily available in her kitchen. One thing led to another, and her friend Ashwini joined her to set up Cerana Meads in Nashik in 2020.

Today, Cerana is among the earliest meaderies in India. It is a sustainable alcoholic beverage startup, growing by 250 percent annually.

More on Cerana Meads here: How two women entrepreneurs set up one of India’s first meaderies in Nashik

3. Deepa Muthukumarasamy, Some More Foods

Deepa holds a master’s in Food and Nutrition. Her son was born in 2008 and once he turned eight months old, she began to prepare organic millet-based health mixes to feed him. Her neighbours and friends also began asking for her health mixes and soon, she was preparing big batches in her kitchen for sale.

Today, her venture Some More Foods offers millet-based noodles, pasta, vermicelli, cookies, and other products across India. It will close FY24 with Rs 3 crore in revenues and is doubling them annually. Deepa is also setting up a manufacturing plant in Tirupur with a daily capacity of three tonnes.

Here’s more: How this nutritionist mom set up Rs 3 crore millet foods business

4. Jayashree Krishnamurthy, Rasa Wellness

Jayashree is a practising CA and also a successful woman entrepreneur. She also began her food entrepreneurship journey while finding healthy alternatives to sugar-laden products available in the market. 

Fuelled by a desire to provide her child with a protein-rich porridge devoid of harmful preservatives, Jayashree crafted her recipe using ragi, a millet rich in calcium, iron and protein. It received good feedback from her family and soon, Jayashree began preparing mixes using millets for her friends who had kids in the same age group.

Today, her healthy food startup Rasa Wellness offers 30 millet-based and gluten-free porridges, snacks, and other items across India. Founded in July 2022 with an investment of Rs1 lakh, the enterprise will close FY24 with Rs50 lakh in revenues, which is doubling annually.

Read more here: How this CA set up Rs 50 lakh food business with Rs 1 lakh investment

5. Indira and Divya Chowfin, Himalayan Haat

Indira makes artisanal preserves, sauces, coolers, chutneys and other items with her daughter Divya in Pauri, Uttarakhand. After Indira’s husband, who looked after their 40-acre jungle farm, passed away in 2014, the mother-daughter duo did not know how to use the farm’s natural produce like strawberries, plums, peaches etc. as they did not get the right rates in the local market.

Divya Chowfin (centre) with her workers. Pic: Himalayan Haat

Well-versed with handcrafting preservative-free items, Indira donned the chef’s hat and began to make preserves in her kitchen. Today, their startup Himalayan Haat supplies handmade food products across India. They employ local women who need a consistent income to support their households. Himalayan Haat’s annual turnover was Rs33 lakh last fiscal and is expected to cross Rs50 lakh in FY 24.

Their story: How this mother-daughter duo built a farm-to-table startup in the Himalayas

6. Manzilat Fatima, Manzilat

A descendant of Awadh’s last Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, Manzilat is mainstreaming the royal Awadhi cuisine through her eponymous restaurant in Kolkata. The cuisine travelled from Awadh (present-day Lucknow) to West Bengal after the Nawab was dethroned and spent the rest of his life at Metiabruz, then a suburb of Kolkata.

Manzilat, who is a qualified lawyer, loved cooking for family and friends. Repeated requests led her to prepare food items at home and have them delivered. Now, she runs her restaurant Manzilat, which is a profitable venture earning Rs35 lakh in annual revenues. Customers have to make bookings in advance and walk-ins are not accommodated at the restaurant. 

Manzilat uses 167-year-old recipes to keep alive the Awadhi culinary heritage which includes chicken lazeez shami kababs, Kolkata shahi mutton biryani, mutton Awadhi gilauti kabab and a range of pulaos. 

Read here: Manzilat: The food entrepreneur keeping alive Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s culinary legacy

7. Anuradha Joshi Medhora, Charoli

Anuradha is an advertising professional-turned-chef who is reviving the royal cuisine of Malwa. She used to cook food for her family and friends, who soon began to ask for more and led her to start a food business.

What started in her home kitchen is now Mumbai-based cloud kitchen Charoli which recreates traditional recipes from the royal kitchens of Malwa. From Murgi ki Kadhi to Gulab ki Kheer, Charoli has resurrected a dying cuisine which has Rajput, Maratha and Persian influences. Available on Swiggy, Zomato, and through Anuradha’s Instagram presence, the cloud kitchen is growing its revenues by 50 percent annually.

Here's more: How this advertising professional-turned-chef is reviving the royal cuisine of Malwa

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