How a banker turned chocolatier
Sometimes it takes immense courage to throw caution to the winds and embrace life with whatever you’ve got.
Here’s our feature on Mumbai-based Deepa Kothawale, an ex-banker turned chocolatier. We at The Lifestyle Portal are happy to share her entrepreneurial journey of how her little chocolate company – Kanbury Chocolates came into being.
What we liked about Deepa and her little sweet venture is that it’s based on the foundation of honesty, sincerity and a drive to do something creative and make a difference. Her vision is to have Kanbury Chocolate in everyone’s monthly grocery list and once you read her story you will know the dream is not far behind.
How did it all begin?
A banker turned full-time homemaker, Deepa recalls, “While raising my daughters, I realised I need to have a social identity. I was quite active in share trading, however, I was looking for a creative avenue and Kanbury chocolate happened.”
Initial investment & branding
Being very prudent with her investment, Deepa’s initial investment was devoted to buying raw materials, packaging, and branding. She also participated in various consumer exhibitions to get the first-hand experience of consumer behaviour and buying preferences.
“With growing demand for my product line, I am now considering automation in near future and will invest in sophisticated machines,” adds Deepa.
The brand name ‘Kanbury’ has been inspired by her daughter’s name “Kanak” and Deepa feels that the love and effort she puts into these handcrafted chocolates that are customised for occasions and customer preference is what makes people like Kanbury.
What makes Kanbury Chocolates unique?
As a self-taught chocolatier, Deepa makes it a point to always try different chocolate recipes to bring out the best in the Kanbury chocolate menu and do test marketing with a select group of loyal Kanbury customers. She further adds, “I usually like to watch cookery shows, social media channels on how homemade chocolates are made in different parts of the world, what quality standards do they observe while making homemade chocolates, what different recipes do these global chocolatiers experiment with.”
“We sell chocolate experiences and not just the chocolates. This philosophy is followed in making handmade chocolates to ensure that the intended occasion is celebrated in a unique way. We follow this philosophy in selecting best quality chocolate ingredients, creating customised recipes, and packaging in consultation with the customer,” explains Deepa.
“Seasonal demand is the greatest challenge I face in the business,” admits Deepa. She further adds, “To overcome this challenge and have a regular flow of customers, I will soon launch “Kanbury Daily Bytes” range of chocolates.” Kanbury Daily Bytes is a range of affordable dark, milk and white chocolates with a dash of dry fruits. These chocolates can be served as post meal dessert or can be enjoyed anytime during the day. As these daily bytes can be consumed without any special occasion and are affordable, I am confident this range will address challenges of seasonal demand if marketed properly).
Clients of Kanbury Chocolates
Currently, her target is a retail sale, individuals, and families who buy Kanbury chocolates for specific occasions like Diwali, Ganesha festival or during the marriage season; also the Christmas and New Year time are the busiest days of the year for her.
She further adds, “I participate in consumer exhibitions to generate business leads. I do have loyal customers who have been buying chocolates from me since the last five years. They are my most trusted brand ambassadors and I do get business inquiries through word of mouth as well. During festive seasons, I allocate small marketing budget for print advertising in local newspapers as well.”
Here’s what some of her happy customers have shared with her –
“Deepa- Thank you so much for making my daughter’s 5th birthday special with Kanbury Chocolates. My guests liked your assorted variety of chocolates and they could not believe these are handmade. Special thanks to you for taking efforts in creating packaging to suit the birthday theme of ‘Rock Star’
“Deepa – I have been buying your chocolate Mango modaks for Ganesh festival since five years. Thanks for the consistency in taste, packaging, and very high-quality standards that you maintain.”
Kanbury Chocolates & food licensing
“I always believe in doing business with the utmost professional conduct and within the regulatory framework. This was the main driver for applying for food license from the authority. Also having license number gives a strong business credibility,” explains Deepa.
Product and pricing
Kanbury menu offers an exotic variety of dark, milk, white chocolates with multiple combinations of dry fruits, fruit essence, and carefully selected fillings. The pricing is customised as per the recipe selected by the customer. Typically our product range starts from Rs. 50 onwards.
Deepa aspires that her future plan for Kanbury Chocolates is to get steady order book throughout the year and build a strong distributor and retailer ecosystem to make it happen.
The journey so far…
“This journey of 5 years was interesting. I learned a lot about product development, packaging, consumer behaviour, distribution channel management, running customer loyalty programs as a part of branding. I am quite happy with the progress, however each time I deliver the order, I still get goose bumps and I eagerly wait for customer feedback. A thank you note or call gives me lot of satisfaction and inspiration to continue with chocolate making,” smiles Deepa.
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