During a visit to Bhimtal Uttarakhand, while looking for a coffee place, we chanced upon ‘Bhimtal Birdsong Cafe’. The place is filled with people – meeting, eating, reading and connecting. Kalyani Mirajkar the cafe’s founder had come up with this idea of a hangout place that also vouches for an eco-friendly atmosphere. We catch up with this  new entrepreneur on the block, and talk about various aspects of her journey. Some edited snippets from the interview.

From a corporate career to starting ‘The Bhimtal Birdsong Cafe’

Kalyani Mirajkar 41, worked in the corporate sector for about 15 years in Gurgaon, Haryana. She says, “It has been a long journey. The environment between the city and hills is drastically different, not only with respect to weather but also the lifestyle. I’ve been visiting this place for a few years now for vacations; and at a point when I decided to foray into a new career path, I was mostly clear that this is where I wanted to settle in.”

Bhimtal Birdsong Cafe Kalyani Mirajkar
Kalyani, in a conversation with STP | Photo credit: STP Team

Entrepreneurship and making a career shift at 40

No risk is easy. Making a career shift at 40 is definitely not. Kalyani did have a hiccup moment, when she planned on walking down another career path. However, ultimately, it was her love for doing something new that served as catalysts in leading her to take the entrepreneurial plunge. “It’s not like I just knew what I wanted to do next. There wasn’t a sheer shot clarity. I did take a considerable amount of gap to realise what would give me peace and happiness. I sat down and figured – I love coffee, desserts and nature; so here I am – making my own coffee and baking my own dessert and building a small place where I can share the same zest with people.”

I love coffee, desserts and nature; so here I am – making my own coffee and baking my own dessert and building a small place where I can share the same zest with people.

When asked about age-factor affecting her decision she responds, “You know most people are resorting to olden times and practices now. Also, I’d like to believe that a lot of us are not driven by money anymore. I’m not.”

How did she make it happen? –  The setup, location and staff

The cafe started in June 2017. The initial investment for the cafe was her own. When asked as to why she selected Bhimtal as the location, she answers, “The place fit my criterion: a) main road connectivity b) open seating along with indoor seating c) ample parking”.  The Birdsong marks its one year anniversary this month. The popularity it has gained in a year’s time is applaudable; considering its 5-star rating on a Popular Travel Portal. The cafe sees a steady footfall, there are regular guests travellers and residents from Bhimtal and around the area.

On Breaking Even

She believes, it hugely depends on the seasonality of the area. “I am keeping a 5-year window for break even given the seasonality one has to work with, in the hills.”  Kalyani has a small team of staff members that she got on board utilising the local resources. “Of the original 4, I still have 3 local staff members with me a year later”.

“Seeing the magnificence of nature is awe-inspiring. It puts everything one does in better perspective, guiding us to make the world a better place.”

Bhimtal Birdsong Cafe Kalyani Mirajkar
In the lap of nature | Photo credit: Kalyani Mirajkar

Awareness surrounding sustainable living.

Kalyani’s love for nature can be seen in her organic kitchen garden from where she sources all her vegetables. The beautiful herbs not only make the place vibrant but also contribute to the greenery around. Interestingly, Kalyani also uses plastic and glass bottles as mud containers or light reflectors, instead of trashing them away.

The name “Birdsong” comes from the name of her house. She loves the essence of birds and captures beautiful photos of these creatures from time to time. She does come across days when she fails at new recipes. Also, since she’s new to being an entrepreneur, she feels profit and losses are part of the journey. Numbers do not define her dream. It’s the effort you put into something you love what matters in the end.

Bhimtal Birdsong Cafe Kalyani Mirajkar
Photo credit: Kalyani Mirajkar

“One can have more than one passion. I was extremely passionate about my job at one point and happily spent 15-18 hours at work. That was then. Just remember everything comes together in the end and no lessons are wasted.”

She believes everyone can have as many interests and passions. It’s all about accepting and attempting all of it with time.

At the end of the day, the students of nearby institutes chattering away, individuals sitting down with a good read and coffee, visitors from pan India coming to her cafe enlightens her day. It is these moments which makes her decision, of leaving a corporate career behind and shifting to a small hill-station, worth it.

Also Read: Five Reasons Why Entrepreneurship Is A Great Opportunity For Women

More stories by Bhawana

Bhawana is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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