The “Gourmet Jar” was started by Apeksha Jain, from her home kitchen in 2012. An ex-French-teacher and an Eco Graduate from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi, this food blogger-turned-entrepreneur, is a self-taught confiturier who’s passion for cooking is monitored by her instinct and a husband, who loves food! Listen to her talking about her passion…
1. Tell us a little about your venture. How long ago did you start up? What has been your motivation and what do you aim to achieve?
We produce some of the finest gourmet condiments which are handmade in small batches. Our range of captivating condiments include preserves, pesto, mustard, savoury spreads and infused honey that are 100% natural and contains no preservatives. I started the brand from my home kitchen in 2012 and moved to a plant setup in 2014. I realised that the condiment space is quite stagnant and wanted to shake-up the market place with some distinct flavour combinations. Our aim is to make TGJ condiments an integral part of people’s lifestyle.
2. Where did the inspiration for setting up a business come from?
My husband has a major sweet tooth and while on holiday in Burgundy we had a homemade banana jam at a small B&B. For him, it was love at first bite. When we were back in India, he used to keep reminiscing about that banana jam so I did some googling on the basics of making jam, and made my very first batch. It came out amazing! He loved it, and hence I started experimenting with more flavours. Eventually friends and family started loving my preserves. I knew by then that I wanted to work in the food industry. One day it dawned on me that the Indian jam market was synonymous with artificially-flavoured, full-of-sugar and colouring products. I realised that there was nothing like what I was making – interesting flavours made in an artisanal style from fresh ingredients and no preservatives. So I set up a Facebook page in May 2012, and started selling my preserves directly to customers.
3. How easy or tough has it been for you, as a woman entrepreneur, to set up and promote your business?
Managing people was quite tough initially, especially blue collared staff. And getting people to take you seriously is always a challenge for a woman entrepreneur. Also, dealing with governmental bureaucracy was quite intimidating and difficult in the early stages of setting up the business. Things have certainly improved but I believe we still have a long way to go!
4. Do you think women entrepreneurs support other women across the value chain of business? How have you impacted/ supported/ mentored the careers of other women?
I feel women entrepreneurs are not as supportive of their counterparts as men normally are, but this trend is thankfully changing. The new generation of womenpreneurs realise the many benefits of a strong support system.
Many women who are just starting out in their ventures get in touch with me for advise, and suggestions, or perhaps even to ask for contacts in the industry. And I’m happy to share my experiences with them so that they can learn from it, and give them my advice. But at the same time, I make sure that I give them the tough reality of the industry so that they don’t expect the road ahead to be easy. I think this kind of reality check helps in making the right decisions.
5. How has the support of friends and family played a role in your being a successful entrepreneur? How do you balance your professional and personal life?
Support of friends and family is crucial in being successful as an entrepreneur. Any new business requires so much of your time and dedication, that if you don’t have a supportive family, you’ll be torn between work and home all the time, which will only lead to less-than-desired performance on both fronts. For me, my husband has been a tremendous support in my journey, whether it was pitching in for household responsibilities, or helping me out after his office hours. And most importantly, he was the one to keep pushing me and to encourage me on days when things seemed to go in the wrong direction. After he quit his job to join me in the business, the line between professional life and personal life has definitely become more blurred, as we’re constantly talking about work, but we try to take a short holiday every few months where we make it a point to leave work behind and recharge ourselves. And we also make sure Sundays are no-shop-talk days.
6. What is the road ahead in 2018?
We are trying to innovate in other categories of condiments by fine-tuning new recipes based on feedback from analysts. We are planning to release a bunch of new products along with expanding business into cities such as Chennai, Ahmedabad and Pune.