Endangering the world on the face of a health crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic has posed difficult circumstances for almost every individual. In the wake of the measures taken to curb the spread of this contagious virus, the government of varying countries, including India imposed a national lockdown that extended for a little longer than expected. As a result, many individuals lost their jobs causing distress in the economic landscape of the country. However, there were a few who were able to see through the darkness.
One such woman is Neha Manglani who works as a Law professional but was on a break due to an unseen state of affairs and sought to do something unconventional.
With an aim to translate this period of distress in fortune, she started a startup named ‘La Galletas’- the dreamy cookies. She shared with us her experience of what made her jump into baking and take the road ahead during this lockdown.
Read the detailed interview of Neha Manglani with NLC assistant editor Lakshika Thakur.
Q1. Interestingly, you come from a law background and you chose to pursue the startup business, how did that happen?
A. I hail from a business family and I am an academician. However, I took a break and wanted to give time to each and everything in my life that have been pending for so long, and this cooking or baking was never in my mind though I already knew how to bake them at home as I used to do that.
Basically, I had this interest in wine course so I always wanted to pursue wine and everything so when I took this break, I side by side wanted to qualify law exam as well that is but then examinations and every other thing got postponed and taking up wine course also got canceled. So I was very skeptical now. We as an independent woman want something to do we can’t just sit idle at home so out of nowhere I already knew how to bake cookies and started baking at home. Meanwhile, my extended relatives were also complaining about every shop or bakery getting shut. Then one fine day I just asked my mom that should I start with this particular thing, will this work? And as always my mom supported me and agreed to start with it and I really got a good response. My friends and relatives also supported me well. Initially, after a week or 10 days of doing it, I got literally very tired and told my friends that maybe the job was better, I can use my brain but this typical work is killing me to which my friends replied, “have you lost it, the law is so difficult,” I said, no law is easy but I kept on going with baking and they all support me and keep motivating me. I’m still in a growing phase let’s see how it turns up and what it turns out to be.
Q2. Under the current circumstances, what are the things that you believe would take your startup journey further?
A. Basically, In this lockdown because of the fear of coronavirus everybody wants everything homemade no matter what and they want that all the precautions should be taken and also they cannot trust anyone or restaurants outside because it has created that fear but ultimately what is the psychology of people is that if something is homemade, they will be fine with it.
So when they come to know that I am baking at home and they know that the home is the safest place and everything is fine at home and people want it more and more so this is why, I started doing this thing because when it comes to food items, what is important is hygiene and how you pack your stuff and how the product tastes and if the taste is good, no wonder, people will love it.
Q3. How is the response you have been receiving so far?
A. Touchwood, the response is really very good. I never thought that I will be getting so many orders in so fewer days that I got so tired and needed a break. I want a day break in between so that I can just sleep and be lazy the whole day but then also I am happy I am getting a very good response. There are people who after finishing with their cookies want to place another order which makes me really happy.
Q 4. Do your clients ever doubt your delivery as during this pandemic period people are more concerned and tensed about safety and hygiene?
A. Yes, one of my customers, she said that I don’t want you to deliver my order through Swiggy and all. So I suggested either you send someone to my place or I’ll see to it. Basically one of my drivers stay near that customer’s place and when this lockdown was uplifted and unlock 1.0 started, he started coming to our place and as people were skeptical about Swiggy and all deliveries, so I thought to send my driver for delivering orders and started with it and for that he used to cover himself up and wear gloves and all safety equipment because I told him that you need to take proper care of yourself while delivering every packet which is also convenient for others. If they trust me, they will trust my driver as well.
Q5. What are your future plans for continuing with this business?
A. Currently, I am enjoying and let me see how and when this COVID will end and I will back to my faculty of law. So, till then I am pretty sure about continuing this. In fact, yesterday only I was discussing this with my parents and friends and told them that I want to make this a whole time thing and I would not also give up on law maybe I can take one or two lectures in the morning and then do baking and if I am able to do both, I will be really happy. Else in the future, I may decide what to take on and what is better for me and where my interests lie.
Q6. What was the best compliment you received from any of your clients so far?
A. My clients used to mention that there is some magic in your cookies, basically, they said that the cookies they have from outside and what my cookies taste like are absolutely different. Even one of my customers said that she would not prefer buying cookies from anywhere else and till now she had ordered three times, so I am really happy. Yes, it is going well.
Q7. Is there any memory you would like to share that you built up with your customers apart from getting the best compliments from them?
A. This one thing really inspired me well when this customer of mine said that she is not going to buy from anywhere else and she only loves to buy from me. In fact, in a period of 12-14 days only, she has ordered thrice so this is the best memory that I can have.
Q8. How is social media adding value to your startup business?
A. Yes, I would like to add one thing, apart from my parents and my family, one thing that motivated me and encouraged me was my page. Last year, I started with my page that is ‘Painting At Grey’ for supporting mental health. Initially, I started it but after some time I stopped maintaining that page. Then, in the past six months, from January or December, I again started maintaining that page and maybe that gave me more strength because apart from inspiring others I myself was getting inspired which motivated me and made me confident.
So, what are you waiting for, place your orders now and dig in these delicious cookies!