KOCHI: The year 2020 was quite unfavourable for the food industry owing to the pandemic. Many gave up, shut down their businesses and faced the brunt of the collapsing industry. While many stumbled during Covid times, there were also those who seized the opportunity to make their dreams come true. College students and fresh pass-outs also joined the bandwagon. Katia Binu Varughese, 23, and Rhea Tess Johnny, 18, who ventured into entrepreneurship during the time have a similar story to tell.
According to Kozhenchery native Katia, ‘Cocoa by Katia’ is a platform for her to showcase her skills in baking sweet delights such as American soft cookies, chocolate tarts and blondies. She completed her studies from Le Corden Bleu in Australia and came to India during the lockdown. When the uncertainty of returning back to her busy schedule loomed large, she started cooking and sharpening her culinary skills.
“I have been thinking to start ‘Cocoa by Katia’ for a while, but I was intimidated without having a business backup. But 2020 gave me a chance to bake simple stuff and see if it was worth selling,” quips Katia.
For Rhea who is undergoing her undergraduate studies from IHM Chennai, it is quite a task to juggle between her academics and her love for baking. Yet, her ‘Batter me up by Rhea’ which sells cakes, confectioneries and her personal favourite ‘desert hybrid’ is getting love in Kochi.
“My family has been supportive and the lockdown period definitely gave me the nudge and time to plan things and work accordingly. Now with our classes back on track, it is difficult to manage both.
I now wake up early in the morning to prepare the orders and attend the classes as usual, “said Rhea. “Initially, I used to bake for my friends and family who shared their feedback. EventuallyI collaborated with a local caterer who was impressed with my desserts and I started customising the products as per customer’s request,” she added.