This woman entrepreneur is helping millennials announce their pandemic weddings with customised hampers
Delhi-based Saffron Gourmet, founded by Akansha Kohli, is helping couples make their friends and family members be part of their wedding celebrations with customised hampers.
Indians know a lot about weddings. There are a few rules — they have to be big, attended by your whole family (some relatives even fly in from abroad); they have to be fun and full of many rituals and ceremonies; they have to include tonnes of good food.
Truly, what is an Indian wedding without good food, gupshup, and laughter all around?
But then came the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing along restrictions on social gatherings and mobility. Sensing a business opportunity, Akansha Kohi decided to launch Saffron Gourmet, which makes customised gift hampers for couples to announce their union.
“While most people cancelled or postponed their wedding, some were arranging intimate gatherings by following safety protocols. And, they are sending hampers to friends and family members who couldn’t be a part of the celebration,” she shares.
The lockdown allowed Akansha to rekindle her love for food experiments. She would curate her own fusion sweets and savouries, get her friends and family to taste them and give her feedback and then incorporate them into her menu.
These include unique fusions like watermelon gajak, rose gujiya tarts, pineapple and kesar tarts, pistachio gujiya tarts, coffee milk cake, blueberry coconut ladoos, seed and berries gajak, anjeer halwa, beetroot halwa, pistachio and mawa slab, rainbow and elaichi macaroons, healthy dry fruit chikki, harabhara cheeslings, peri peri namak pare, and more — all customised to a client’s needs.
Most of the Delhi-based venture’s clientele include millennials who value the brand’s aesthetic appeal, be it with the fusion recipes or packaging.
“While millennial couples reach out for certain products, we have to deal with the bride and groom’s parents and family members who tend to be more old-school, and convincing them of certain offerings is difficult. We often have to tell them, you may not like it but it suits the taste of your guests and the youth,” Akansha says.
In less than a year of operations, she has catered to clients in Delhi-NCR, as well as cities across India like Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Pune, among others.
For Delhi-based clients, Akansha meets with them in person and presents samples for taste testing. Once sweets and savouries are finalised, along with customisations based on health needs, Saffron Gourmet prepares the hampers and delivers them to their friends and family who could not attend the wedding.
For clients based outside the capital, the company sends a sample of each item and arranges a Zoom call to finalise their choice. Starting at Rs 1,200, the brand also sells directly to customers as well, besides catering to occasions.
Challenges and the way forward
Working with a team of 15 at the moment, taking the entrepreneurial plunge for the first time during the pandemic was no mean feat.
"People are very apprehensive of receiving food items and keep packages outside after sanitising them, which is not great for food,” she says. Logistical difficulties only added to the already limiting experience of operating amidst a pandemic.
Started with an initial investment of Rs 5 lakh in July 2020, Saffron Gourmet claims to have broken even and made a revenue of Rs 15 lakh in the last seven months.
Although the business was started to solve problems specific to the times of coronavirus, the entrepreneur feels there is potential for growth even after the pandemic.
It is now in talks with a few major hotel chains to partner in catering to events being held there. Akansha is already planning ahead for when the second wave of COVID-19 settles and hopes to launch a retail store. Until then, she is experimenting with various fusion recipes.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta