CHENNAI: There’s a misconception that healthy eating is incompatible with tasty eating, and that is what Akila Vankalapathi and Midhila Ravi set out to dispel when they launched AkiMi’s Gourmet.
Launched out of their respective home kitchens in Chennai and Hyderabad in 2019, AkiMi built such support and enthusiasm among their customer base that after three years of selling through WhatsApp and Instagram, they’ve opened their first in-person store at Nungambakkam, Chennai.
The USP of the gourmet is its eschewing of dairy, gluten and refined sugar, substituting it with nut flour — derived from almonds, millets and oats — and palm jaggery.
“People are usually sceptical when it comes to healthy eating. But we’ve proved that it needn’t be, and our products are super healthy and super tasty,” Akila says. Both Akila and Midhila grew up as childhood friends in Bellary, Karnataka, and while Akila moved to Chennai, Midhila moved to Hyderabad.
Before AkiMi, Akila helped with her husband’s logistics business in Chennai. It was while she was at her mother’s place after the birth of her daughter that the idea dawned on her.
“Midhila came to visit me one day, and had one of those healthy laddus my mother made. She then suggested the idea of starting a healthy dessert business. We then participated in a show in Chennai, and the response was so great that it gave us the impetus to get into business,” she says.
And so they launched AkiMi’s Gourmet in April 2019, simultaneously in Chennai and Hyderabad. Akila handled operations in Chennai, while Midhila executed orders for the Hyderabad clients.
In a matter of three years, the gourmetn store, which began with a modest portfolio of 12-13 products, now has over 50 products on its menu, with items like the Pecan Pie Bars and Almond Flour Chocolate Cake among their most popular.
Despite working from two different cities, the duo managed to keep up the consistency of the product quality, and their products continue to sell like hot cakes (no pun intended).
From banking to baking
Like Akila, Midhila too was a working professional at a bank before she decided to pursue what her heart was into.
“In fact, I was still at my job when we launched AkiMi. It meant waking up early and finishing orders before leaving for work. Now I’ve quit my former job and I’m able to focus entirely on baking,” she shares.
Healthy baking as a concept is yet to take root in Chennai and Hyderabad, so one could say they’re one of the first to bring this novel concept to both cities, remarks Midhila. But there’s an increasing segment of the population that seeks to make more conscious choices when it comes to food, and AkiMi taps exactly into this market.
“There are people who don’t mind paying a little extra for a product if it means eating healthily. Also with our products, one doesn’t have to feel guilty about indulging in, for example, a dark chocolate cake — because they’re all made of healthy ingredients,” notes Midhila.
For so many home bakers, the road from home-baking to opening a store is a slow road to success, and the obstacles are innumerable. But AkiMi shot to the top at lightning speed.
“We’ve grown so much in leaps and bounds these three years that we were looking forward to opening our first store, and now that we have, it’s such a great feeling, but it’s also because of the consistency with which we’ve managed to deliver,” remarks Akila. Are there plans to open a store in Hyderabad? It certainly is in the offing, replies Midhila, depending on how the Chennai outlet fares.
Address: Opposite Harrison Hotel on Valluvar Kottam High Road, Nungambakkam. For details, call: 7550282575