Kolkata Entrepreneurs: Food bistros to upcycling, women entrepreneurs are shaping their own destiny and birthing new business ideas. Meet business owners from Kolkata who are building the women’s economy.
Sujata Chatterjee, Twirl Store
The small business upcycles products and promotes sustainable fashion. Everyone who sells old clothes, gathers loyalty points and is able to purchase new upcycled clothes & accessories. An ecommerce platform, it uses old products to create bags, jackets, accessories. Founded by Sujata Chatterjee, their products aim to be handcrafted by women thereby giving them job opportunities. Chatterjee was recognised at the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge 2019.
Chatterjee’s business is run out of Kolkata where she and other women in the business, do the upcycling process. The revival of the fabric happens via storing and segregating fabric and other items based on type and colour. According to the product designs, women from rural Bengal then help create new handicraft, sustainable fashion goods and cut down any wastage.
Preeyam Budhia, ICanFlyy
Preeyam has two jobs, one where she is focussed on leading sustainability and business growth at Patton International which is into export of plastic pipes and tanks. But her passion project is the food and beverage space. Preeyam Budhia and her mother came up with a unique space named Cafe ICanFlyy with an aim to provide employment for people with special needs. Serving up a mix of global cuisines, they are hoping to make this space one where they can also help the workers become financially independent.
Lovey Burman, Kookie Jar
It was an ‘all consuming passion’ for her when Burman decided to set up Kookie Jar back in 1985. As a young entrepreneur, Burman took a chance on herself and create a first mover advantage in a business few had captured in Kolkata city. KJ, as the place is frequently referred to became a stop for everyone to pick delish, crisp and fresh pastries, cookies and breads.
Burman first set up a store in Rawden Street and as the business surged she got the neighbouring shop and used it to expand her business. Entrepreneurship didn’t come easy she notes. “I believed in my product,” she says in an interview with the Telegraph.
Burman’s mantra is “commitment and conviction.”
Pooja Baid, Piccadilly Square
Baid got Kolkata one of its favourite vegetarian European bistros and started business in food back in 2013. She set up the restaurant Piccadilly Square at 21. While she faced no gender discrimination being an entrepreneur, she did encounter people who questioned her experience at ‘her age.’
For someone who dreamed of eating waffles in her own city, Baid always felt disappointed that all she could find were icecream sellers. And so she wished to get a slice of Europe into Kolkata via a bustling bistro that offered everything from slurpy waffles to fresh salads.
Her inspiration came from her grand mom and Ritu Dalmia who is a renowned chef across India for her experience in Italian cooking.
Currently she works as a Chief Mentor to the Piccadilly Square but also is involved in other creative projects in branding and marketing.
Mamata Das, Viva la Vida
Influencer and fashion enthusiast turned entrepreneur, Mamata Das’ Viva la Vida By MSD is an up and coming clothing brand that aims to promote comfort for people of all sizes. Das’ mantra with this business? “Easy & relaxed comfortable clothing for women of each size, age and shape.
India is now seeing a rise of brands founded or approved by influencers and social media celebrities. Mamata Das, who has been successful stylist for a while runs her mini fashion empire alongside playing full-time mommy to her seven-year-old daughter. With a keen interest in textile and sustainability, Das is be a self-confessed saree lover who loves promoting and styling the 6-yards as an obsession.