Andrea Rangnekar, chocolatier par excellence and entrepreneur discusses her delicious career with Monarose Sheila Pereira, sharing the facts of her hobby-turned-profession that is paying off majorly with lip-smacking dividends and sweet returns..
What is your venture called?
My husband and I have named it - Let’s Chocolati.
What are your qualifications?
I did my B.Sc and followed it with an MBA. I have done courses from Wilton UAE and 32 degrees Studio. My husband Arif is a technical person who manages the internet part of the business trained at Apple Technologies. My brother-in-law Ali has done a course at 'Studio 32 degrees' and he too helps out with the business.
Why did you choose to make chocolates?
The business path I have chosen was a hobby to begin with, which slowly grew into a passion. Passion brought perfection and perfection brought confidence and the career path just developed from there. There is nothing better than having a hobby that you are passionate about as your career. It gives a great contentment to me when I create a unique beautiful chocolate or cake. When people look at it and say ‘wow’, roll it in their mouths and say ‘awesome’. A feast for the eyes and satisfaction for the soul… it is heaven… I see this expression on my customer’s face and it delights me. Seeing smiles and happiness on people’s faces is a great achievement to me. It gives me immense satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment.
What was the immediate pay-off in making a hobby into a career?
The creative side of me got a chance to surface. The more I made chocolates and chocolate cakes, the more the passion grew. Everyone would just love my cakes and chocolates and I enjoyed doing it too. I used to live abroad. When I came back to India, I thought of starting my own business and what was better than turning my passionate hobby into a business.
How has your education helped you?
Understanding chocolate and working with it is a whole science by itself. Being a BSc graduate with Chemistry as one on my subjects certainly made the in-depth learning about chocolate very simple for me - its properties, temperature levels, reactions to different conditions as well as its effects on the brain that gives so much happiness to people – these were all easy to understand and apply. The precision and accuracy skills one develops in a Chemisty laboratory, does help when you are creating your various chocolate recipes, to give it perfection and quality. My MBA helped me in strategising my business plan. My vision is to be a Chocolatier, creating healthy and fresh chocolates with unique tastes that capture the imagination and sensations of children and grown-ups alike.
How would you describe your training days?
Every day is a training day for me. There is always something new to learn and a new recipe to experiment with and this helps me to offer new delights to my customers. A new challenge, a new creation is what keeps me ticking. The initial stages were spent experimenting with various recipes and coming up with the best combination and recipe. We also had to plan and strategise the product and business. It took a while to master it.
What investment did you have to make?
Monetary investments are about costs regarding setting up the center, equipment and certifications. In non-monetary terms, we had to invest a lot of time and patience. If you are starting a home business where you do not need to take up much space you would need approximately Rs.2 lakh for equipment.
How much can one earn from this field?
You can earn a profit of Rs 20k per month at start-up. However a business fresher’s earnings cannot be pinpointed. It would vary and be dependent on various factors such as marketing of the product, the product appeal to his target market, competition, pricing etc. Some have an inborn talent and some are hard working, moving towards attaining a skill level to become a professional. It is very individualistic. Stressing on a quality product,courage and determination are important factors. The globe is the limit and the earnings are unlimited.
What are the advantages and difficulties that you face?
My product concept is my strength which is a budding market and so a definite advantage. Accepting innovation and change is always a challenge. It is a fairly new product in the Indian market. Changing ‘traditional’ minds to ‘Being Different’ on the gifting front is a bit of a challenge. A very fine and delicate taste of fresh artisan chocolates is yet to catch up with Indian taste. So while on one hand we have an open market on the flip side, the very fact that it is a new line makes it difficult to convince people. Many people still prefer gifting traditional sweets. Chocolates are just beginning to pick up.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to be a name to reckon with and an established brand that spreads smiles, joy and happiness and that ‘yummy’ feeling.
What advice do you have for those who want to start their own business?
Passion, patience and precision is what you need. If you have it then nothing can stop you. It is your passion for what you do that drives you to make a success of your venture. Of course, you need to do a thorough research about your product and the market you want to cater to. To me, success is any achievement of mine which brings happiness to my customers and to my near and dear ones.