Sandhya’s venture into business started 10 years back, but before starting up her own supermarket she and her husband were into advertising: they had an advertising agency. She then gave up working for the advertising agency as soon as she had her second child. Having little to do at home, her interest in baking started.
Sandhya graduated in Home Science and Food Technology and has also has taken up special courses. She had a passion for baking and cooking for a very long time, but what most interested Sandhya was the baking part. She took up her passion for baking and in turn, her family and friends started pestering her to teach them her baking style. They struggled to grasp methods and recipes so that’s when she started conducting classes. She received a good response from her friends and family as well as social media. Sandhya initially started in the year 2013 with around 2-3 classes depending on the number of students, which later on grew up to having 70 classes, 70 courses in hand.
After completing her graduation, she did not pursue further education as she got married at an early age. She eventually assisted her husband in his business. Baking came into the picture whilst shuffling between housework and looking after children. She had so much creativity and ideas in her head but with caring for the children as her primary duty, without any support, she didn’t think she could pursue her dreams.
When we asked Sandhya how the baking courses all started, she replied that she initially started with baking on order. Those customers then complimented her baking and suggested she teach. She planned a curriculum to ascertain what would benefit or help a beginner to learn baking. That’s when Sandhya’s SKM Institute of Culinary Arts was born. She narrates how her first class was: it was just after Diwali with around 8-10 friends. In the first session, she had taught 25 recipes over 3 days. Later, through time, she started segregating recipes into various sessions to cover, for example, dinners, biscuit baking and cake baking. From the first class until now, the maximum number of student per class is 38 and are all single-day classes.
She now hosts70 courses sub-divided into categories for oven, desserts, cooking, festive, preserves & jams to name but a few, because each of these has a sub-category and the list, is endless! From basic cake baking, icing, frosting, sugar flowers to making natural cosmetics as well as handmade beauty products, Sandhya had tried it all and of course, she has come a long way.
Soon after, a new venture cropped up:the start-up of her supermarket. It all started with her father purchasing a ground floor premises to start a supermarket right opposite their house when Sandhya was 22-23 years of age. Her father asked her and her husband to join him but Sandhya never wanted to do so, and constantly refused and said no to him. She said, “as I did not have any interest and no sort of experience and opening such a big thing, which involves a lot of finance and at the age of 22-23 we were more like just out of college. Back then we preferred the independence of having a 9-5 job and having weekends rather than having own business. So in between he gave up the idea of persuading me to do so and gave it up to another party, which later on got our hands messy on recovering the premises back, my father asked me you start something or just forget”. All that Sandhya had earned was invested in the opening of the supermarket, ‘Kini supermarket’ in her parent’s name. And thus started the supermarket!
When asked about the difficulties she faced when she started the supermarket, she replied saying firstly no experience in that field made it difficult to get things sorted, secondly, the substantial finances involved in starting up a supermarket. As a huge investment is required, initially she said the problems faced by her was due to lack of knowledge as to how to go about with the store, then finding dealers and retailers for purchases was another hassle. Currently she has 20-25 staff working at the supermarket. Sandhya also mentioned to us that another factor that played a toll on her supermarket was as soon as they opened, GST changes were introduced which is when they had to change all their computer.
So the big question that was asked to Sandhya was ‘why the supermarket and nothing else?’ She replied “it was my father’s dream to open a supermarket and I did just that. He could not do it because of his age, but now I would say that he is my biggest backbone for the business”.
Sandhya also holds a license for packaging. They get their groceries, dry fruits and spices ordered into the store from Belgaum and Kolhapur (they are of better quality from these areas) and then re-packaged in-store.
We wondered how she juggles her home-life, caking making and food orders plus the supermarket. She replied saying that the cake orders stopped completely once the store opened as she could not manage. So the only focus is looking after the store and on weekends she conducts cookery courses and most importantly, she looks after her children. She says that there are no weekends or holidays anymore as she is constantly on her toes with the supermarket.
“So the biggest difficulty that I face till today is staff and to get manpower here is very difficult. I have girls who work at the supermarket but to get Goan boys to work is a huge task, so most of the male employees are from out of the state.” Sandhya adds that her learning process is ongoing and every day she learns something new or gets a new idea. With everything in place, she is very happy. The message Sandhya would want to give to women is that the courses only caters to women where she tries to open their mind and make them aware that even from home they can earn, they just need to have interest and talent to pursue something.
She always goes by this famous quote from a movie ‘zindagi certificate se nahi Chalti… Kaabil bano, kamyabi jhak marke piche aayegi’. Sandhya has not achieved what she has by her certificates but she has learnt all that she has through real life experiences. Going on to talk about Sandhya’ accomplishments, till date they are immense and purely because of her hard work alone. She was even selected from amongst top 30 honored by Kalaaakar Foundation, New Delhi where she received ‘The Achievers Award 2018’ in November 2018. Moreover, the below is a list of her other accomplishments:
- Felicitated at DilliHaat, Janakpuri selected among top 12 she received ‘The Proud Award 2019’ by the Kalaakar Foundation on 20 Jan 2019.
- ‘The Group Head Puraskar’ appreciation award for Face International World Records set by Kaalaakar Foundation to set world record for highest gathering under the banner of paintings in Rastriya Balika Diwas held in New Delhi on Jan 20 2019.
- ‘The Incredible Art and Literature Award’ Dedicated to Social Welfare held at Hindi Bhavan New Delhi on 21 Jan 2019.
- ‘International Achievers Award 2019’ Presented by the Destination Group at Deen Dayal maarg, New Delhi
- ‘National Salute to Excellence Award 2019’’ presented to her by Santushi Foundation held at Jaipur.
- ‘Iconic Achievers Award 2019 presented by Purwar Achievers Association, New Delhi.
- ‘Final Awardees for Women of Excellence 2019 event organized by Garnet n Gold Gurugram.
- ‘Rashtriya Swarnim Hind Award 2019 organized by women power society in recognition to the Outstanding Individual Achievements and Distinguished services to the Nation, held at Delhi.
- ‘Youth World India Icon Award 2019 for Women Empowerment in Goa presented by Youth world News India Association, Rajasthan.
- ‘Inspiring Women Achievers Award 2019 presented by All India Achievers Conference, New Delhi.
- Nari Gaurav Samman 2019 presented by Purwar Achievers Association.
- Regional head Goa for National Fashion & Lifestyle Magazine. Also Selected Artist amongst the top 1 to represent India in April 2019 t the World Art Fair, Dubai.
We hope that this is a never-ending list and that she continues to reach further heights and add another trophy to her collection as she goes on.
Sandhya talks about future plans of another supermarket in the pipeline but that’s just another idea as of now!