A Multipotentialite In Ajinder Marwah Stops Her From Settling Down In Any One Field
Before I begin I have an honest confession to make – culinary skills was never my forte in the early years of my life and having a career in this field was something I had never planned or even dreamt of. Surprised ? Well I am too. Here’s why. Growing up as the youngest one in the family with five siblings has its perks, and being thoroughly spoilt and pampered is one of them.
I never understood why our mothers gave so much importance to learning how to cook, it actually never made sense to me and I loathed being in the kitchen. Coming from a business family, I was always inclined towards entrepreneurship and at a very young age assisted my brother with the family business. I was pretty clear about doing my own thing and running a business is what’s in my DNA.
When in my late teens my mom would insist that it’s time I learned how to cook. I always argued with her that cooking is something “housewives” do and I’m never going to be one ( no offense to housewives here, in fact I did end up being one, that too for good number of years ). The only way I could be convinced into exploring my culinary skills under them was by being bribed. After all there are no free lunches in life and especially when the lunch is cooked by a budding entrepreneur like me. So the deal was that each time I concocted something in the kitchen (edible or not) I had to be given a gift, I was a born negotiator after all ;)
Time passed and I got married. I had an amazing Mother-in-law who never expected me to cook, we always had a cook and once again I had the privilege of being the youngest one in the family. I lived the first few years of marriage blissfully unaware of what went into running a kitchen.
So, how did I end up here?
I guess it was my quest for learning and creating that got me here. When my daughter Kriti was about 8 years and became a regular school student. A work opportunity came across. So here I was, someone who had never experienced a proper 9-5 work culture as an employee. While the position of a Sales Manager in a reputed life insurance organization was good, but somehow it wasn’t me. After a brief stint of just about 6 months I decided to call it quits, it was precisely when my daughter was about to start her summer vacation, the guilt of leaving her back at home, while I’d be at work, engulfed me. Somewhere I also knew that this 9-5 day in and day out wasn’t me.
After quitting this job, I was still looking for opportunities but shying away from full time commitments. In the meantime we also moved out of our house to a much larger apartment complex. We made a whole bunch of new friends, most of them homemakers and excellent cooks. And as for me this was my very first time of actually having a fully functional kitchen of my own.
Along with having new friends who were very passionate about cooking, I also had a growing daughter who wanted something different to eat every day. So that’s when I actually stepped into the kitchen and explored my culinary skills. Soon I was experimenting with different cuisines and I especially enjoyed concocting desserts and to my surprise they turned out very well. Before I knew, I was branded the dessert Queen by my friends.
In 2005 I saw this huge quarter page advertisement in a newspaper, talking about an excellent part time business opportunity for homemakers. The investment wasn’t much, I had the flexibility of working at my own hours and I would be doing my own thing. It seemed a perfect package and very soon I signed up as one of the first few franchisees for SIP Abacus. A few years down the line the company I was associated with SIP, launched their art program Global Art in Pune and I immediately took the franchise for that too. Again here, art was never my forte but the program was good and made business sense so here I was.
In 2014 after being a channel manager for close to 3 years I decided to quit that one part, as once again the tag of being under someone as an employee was nagging me. By now, my culinary experiments had taken backseat due to lack of time and my daughter had this phase where she started baking, like me she loved to experiment too and she made different stuff now and then. Being particularly fond of brownies she started her quest for the perfect brownies’ recipe she kept adding and deleting ingredients to get the perfect taste and texture and soon she aced the art of baking.
Without any pre planning, she went commercial in a small way at a very young age. This was our first commercial experience in the culinary field. And the brand Baked that I currently operate under was actually started by her. During Diwali, the peak season, she would be flooded with orders and then I’d pitch in to help as and when required. Soon after her graduation she took up a full time job and was left with no time for her hobby for baking so Baked kind of took back seat with just some sporadic orders from our initial fans.
In 2016, I ventured into corporate training too as a soft skills trainer and was quite enjoying this role and by then I also realized that the Abacus program was taking up a lot of my time and was no more a weekend business that I’d started with. After 11 years of successfully running my center I decided to call it a day.
In May 2016 I shut my academy and was now only a freelance corporate trainer. I started enjoying my free time and got back to my cooking and baking to while away my time.
One fine day, my inbox had a mail from MealTango asking if I’d like to sign up as a home chef. All along my career I always pushed my friends to have a career, within their means and resources without compromising too much on the family front. As I felt that doing something worthwhile always gave you more fulfillment. And it was actually one such instance a couple of years ago that’s I had written to MealTango, actually on behalf of a friend who was a great cook but not too tech savvy and aware of platforms for home chefs. I’ve always been of the opinion that if you have a talent you must exploit it and with most of our kids now grown-up the need to keep us occupied gets even more important. I have seen friends plunging into depression as their kids are now grown up and busy. Mothers really don’t know what to do with their free time. So when this mail popped up in my inbox, I thought to myself why not give this a shot.
All these years we had never really aggressively marketed Baked. And as an individual I’m not very comfortable marketing within my own social circle. With the investment being very affordable and the package looking pretty good I felt I had nothing to lose, so here I was on board with MealTango. The major challenges that a home chef faces are delivery and marketing, so with the MealTango team taking care of that front I took the plunge.
The initial plan was to concentrate on brownies and a limited range of desserts, but within no time I had a main course menu too just to add to the choices. The first month was a little slow in terms of business they generated for me, but then they were getting a foothold too then in the market. But by the second month the orders grew manifold and there has been no looking back since. In fact it’s less than 4 month since I joined them and have already introduced 3 of my friends to it too.
In today’s world there is nothing which is not workable, you just need the right platform, some thinking out of the box and awareness and almost every idea is saleable.
We have a world of people out there who would love to eat home cooked, preservative free food, which is way more hygienic and, made with lot of love and warmth. Platforms like MealTango act as an interface between the customer and provider, which is far more smoother. We have tie ups with delivery partners who, at a nominal cost pick up the food from us and deliver to the clients. We also have tie ups with vendors for packaging supplies at a much more competitive pricing and whenever there is a concern these guys willingly come forward to help.
Lastly I want to say, whatever your passion or talent – go for it . The world is full of opportunities one just needs to keep their eyes and ears open to them. Get out of your comfort zone and do what defines you, what gives you pleasure.
On this note this is Aju Marwah signing off till the next opportunity comes knocking :)