Meet the cocktail mixer and candle brands that can jazz up your holidays: Top SMB stories of the week
The most-awaited holiday season is here, and what better way to welcome it than with festive spirits, fine drinks, and cosy homes!
This week, SMBStory brings to you stories of homegrown brandsand Tara Candles, which can help lift your holiday mood and jazz up your parties.
Sober & Co
Sharan and Nishant Kriplani’s search for the ‘perfect’ drink during the lockdown led them to create Sober and Co, a brand of ready-to-drink beverages and mixers.
During the lockdown, the Kriplani brothers from Kolkata tried a variety of beverages and cocktails available in the market. But none of them matched what they were looking for—an “exciting drink with unique flavours”.
This drove them to make drinks at home themselves. Soon the brothers realised that this was a messy and time-consuming affair. But they did not give up, and their experiments to hit upon the perfect brew continued. In fact, the research and development of the product took nearly a year.
Sharan says, “Almost every beverage we looked at in India had the same generic flavour, and it wasn’t exciting. We realised that there was a gap in the market—there was no carbonated ready-to-drink beverage or cocktail mixer that was completely unique and exciting and would appeal to the needs of both a mocktail person and a cocktail person at a party. We saw an opportunity here to introduce a host of new flavours.”
Initially, Sharan and Nishant came up with the idea of creating cocktail mixers. (Mixers are non-alcoholic beverages used to complete a cocktail or a long drink.) By early 2022, they had curated six cocktail mixers with non-synthetic flavours, aided by the expert opinion of Mr Devi Singh, the India winner of the World Class 2019 bartender competition.
It was in consultation with Devi Singh that they understood that mixers would limit them to a very small audience—of cocktail lovers. This realisation led them to tweak their product’s scope, leading to the genesis of a ready-to-drink beverage that could also be used as a cocktail mixer. With this, they opened up their potential market, adding mocktail consumers too into the mix.
The flavours on offer are Australian Sour, Caribbean Punch, Spanish Margarita, Mexican Mama, Cuban Spritzer, and Goan Mule—"flavours that would cater to all kinds of tastes and still stand out from the usual fruit-flavoured mixers commonly found in the market,” says Sharan.
With fragrances like lavender, rosemary, cinnamon, and even masala chai, candles have transformed from a utility item to an essential part of home décor.
The scented candle market is expected to garner a market value of $5.4 billion by the end of 2032. While India is one of the leading exporters of candles globally, the domestic demand for these candles was kicked off during COVID-19, as users discovered the benefits of candles in aromatherapy and festive gifting.
Capitalising on this trend is Mumbai-based , which has luxury hotel chains, including ITC Hotels, as its customers.
The founder attributes the success of Tara Candles to the Indian-ness of its products. “You can see in all my candles, their name starts with a Hindi alphabet. That’s my emotion with the product and my country. I want to be vocal about the origin of the products,” he says.
With 15,300 SKUs and 156 varieties of aroma candles, Tara Candles has established a name for itself in the Indian market and is outlining a strategy for global expansion.
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From Chai Point and Chaayos for tea to CCD, Barista, and Starbucks for coffee, there’s been a battle of brands when it comes to our favourite beverages. But what if you could find someplace that brews both?
“For every group of friends at a tea place ordering from a variety of flavours, there is one person missing their espresso, cappuccino, or classic cold coffee. We started Roastea to serve this space,” say brothers and lawyer-turned-entrepreneurs Anurag and Chaitanya Bhamidipaty, who co-founded in 2019.
The Ahmedabad-based business operates on both the B2C and B2B models, setting up cafes and kiosks to cater directly to consumers and manufacturing automatic dispensing machines for corporates.
During their corporate life, the duo realised that working professionals, who are in the office for 10-12 hours a day, need their tea or coffee, but traditional dispensing machines available in most office pantries aren’t enough. This leads to crowds around chai tapris and coffee shops near office areas.
Anurag says, “Why the tapri wala? Because they were getting freshly brewed chai. So, both of us decided to start a business where we could make dispensing machines for home-style chai or coffee. We were working as lawyers for companies, helping them get listed on the stock exchange. We thought: why not build our own company and get listed ourselves?”
Edited by Swetha Kannan