More than being just another piece of chocolate, Radhika Mandala, owner ChocoCraft likes to refer to it as a piece of art. More than just fending for her family, she is a successful confectioner earning a healthy profit year-on-year.
What started as a humble effort by supplying homemade chocolates to near and dear ones has expanded to a business enterprise. “Some casual experiments at home gave me the confidence to take the plunge. I started making chocolates for friends and relatives, and encouraged by their positive response, I started taking corporate orders,” says Radhika. With ChocoCraft, Radhika has been catering to corporate bigwigs as well as private clients for the last seven to eight years. “I keep improvising by bringing in variations that suits Indian taste buds,” explains Radhika.
Today, almost single-handedly, Radhika Mandala runs ChocoCraft, a designer and custom-made chocolate scene in Hyderabad. She travels to different destinations and is pushing the demand for high quality chocolates in her home city. From her home in Kondapur, she makes custom chocolate arrangements for just about anything: weddings, holidays, births, corporate events, etc. Having shifted from journalism to this, Radhika has not once regretted her decision.
Radhika is self-taught, though she did attend one workshop with chefs in Delhi. Her foray into chocolate-making was especially experimental. “I just tried different techniques, I tried different ingredients and produced what I thought was a yummy chocolate,” says Radhika.
Starting one’s own business is perhaps the most preferred route of most chocolate makers. Most people do a hobby course and then start a small scale business. “Start-up costs can be low; in some states, you can even start in your home kitchen. Most importantly, there’s a healthy market, whether you want to sell directly or through others, as both consumers and retailers eagerly seek new, creative chocolate offerings,” says Radhika.
She believes chocolate is popular because it is an affordable luxury. And what Radhika enjoys even more is teaching her enthusiastic students. “All my students can dish out delicious chocolates with the hands on experience they get in the class,” says Radhika who takes baking classes too. She earns a minimum of `30,000 to 40,000 per month and makes a 50 per cent yearly profit from her chocolate and baking business. She has not limited herself to supplying chocolates for social events. She has promised herself to motivate more women into taking up their hobbies seriously. Also, she regularly holds workshops and classes.
If you wish to make those divine tasting chocolates at home, you can, very comfortably by using the refrigerator, gas stove or microwave oven. “All that you will need is chocolate block, moulds, fillings, decent packing material, all easily available in local markets,” says Radhika.
With her implausible flavours and quintessential chocolate treats, she is offering a host of gifting ideas for various occasions. The popularity of chocolates is on ascendancy, Radhika says, “Over the years the business has grown mainly by word of mouth.” Chocolates have a longer shelf life than most Indian sweets.
Unique flavours are the biggest USP when it comes to such businesses. “Depending upon the occasion, I bring out different products with different packaging and accessories, like chocolates with hard centre (with a variety of nuts) and a crunchy taste, soft centre such as marzipan (cashew paste), fudge etc,” she says.
Radhika’s mantra is small-batch production. “That’s when you can control quality the best. I mould everything by hand, paint everything by hand. I source out of Hyderabad. I don’t use any artificial flavorings, any artificial extracts or artificial preservatives,” she says. Radhika believes that to make great chocolates you must first start with the best and freshest ingredients you can find locally. “Don’t take my word for it; try one yourself. The quality doesn’t end with the chocolate. You can see the special care and beauty reflecting in the packaging as well,” Radhika signs off.
M. Vani Reddy is a successful business-woman who has been doing various businesses for the past 25 years. At a time when women were considered to be below men in all fields, and women doing business a taboo, she became a force to be reckoned with. Rightfully to her M.B.A degree, she has been a strong force in the development and establishment of the businesses she is involved in.
She believed that women should be given equal importance to men in the society and that the best way for women empowerment is women education, and hence started Sri Aurobindo Junior, Degree and P.G College. She felt that if you educate a man you educate the man alone, but if you educate a woman you educate a generation. Along with the college, she has been very successful with her other ventures, Hotel Deccan Heritage and Tiara Diamonds.