Why this husband-wife duo started a health food startup during COVID-19
In 2005, Pallavi Bhardwaj’s newborn Vedhang was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect with two holes in the heart. As a new mother, she also knew there were challenges ahead and a healthy lifestyle was the way forward.
When her son’s immunity was challenged and showed slow growth, Pallavi religiously studied her food intake to supplement her son’s nutrition through breastfeeding. The saying, “we are what we eat,” became central to the mother’s life.
In March 2015, Pallavi pursued a formal degree in macrobiotic nutrition at the Kushi Institute in the US and learnt all about the energy and healing dynamic of food. This was followed by a course in Bach flower Therapy at The Bach Centre in the UK.
Over the years, she learnt various aspects of wellness like Past Life Regression Therapy from renowned Dr Brian Weiss at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, US, and is now looking at Ayurveda Acupressure.
A practising holistic health and lifestyle coach, she refurbished an apartment into a studio and founded Ibadat (meaning worship) in 2017. Based in Noida, the wellness firm has helped more than 300 clients manage conditions like diabetes, cancer, anxiety, hypertension, and obesity.
The 43-year-old entrepreneur firmly believes that balancing mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, which she calls the four wheels of life is key to a healthy life. Pallavi also imparts training in yoga, shiatsu, organises customised workouts, and uses her knowledge of diet management to help individuals lead a holistic life.
She says the total investment in Ibadat including the expenses for wellness education amounts to Rs 40 to Rs 50 lakh. For the past seven years, Pallavi and her husband Sandeep Madhavan have been supporting the Child Heart Foundation, founded by their son’s cardiologist Vikas Kohli.
The Save Well Being journey
After COVID-19 broke out in India, Pallavi took Ibadat’s services online. However, she noticed a lack of healthy food and snacks in the market during the lockdown period, both for her family, as well as clients.
She says, “I have been on an organic diet for almost 10 years. There are businesses that used to supply the organic resources but during the pandemic, it became difficult for them. That is when we wanted to do something to propagate organic living.”
Pallavi was joined by her husband Sandeep who runs a travel startup and the duo used their existing manpower to start Save Well Being, an online marketplace for organic and pesticide-free food, in May 2020.
Pallavi leveraged her network as a lifestyle coach and says getting the food and snack brands on board was not difficult. They duo infused Rs 15 lakh into the venture that now features a range of products, including sattu atta, sambar powder, roasted Bengal gram, rice flour, red rice, ragi flour, and quinoa, along with seasonal vegetables, fruits, honey, and other healthy snacks.
They started by onboarding Indian organic brands. Although Pallavi was keen on introducing foreign brands that she has been using, importing proved to be a major challenge in the beginning.
Pallavi emphasises that food consumption can impact physical, emotional, and mental health, which becomes especially important as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in India.
"The pandemic has reshaped consumer behaviour where buyers have started making conscious amendments in their lifestyle and are eating healthy,” she adds.
However, Pallavi says convincing her clients to eat healthily and switch to organic lifestyle has been one of the major challenges since the results are not tangible.
The couple is now working to create awareness around healthy living and spread the word regarding their latest venture. Moving ahead, they hope to open brick-and-mortar stores in Delhi and Noida.
Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan