Chef, Music Teacher, Designer: How Lockdown Has Turned India's Youngsters Into Entrepreneurs

Lockdowns are boring, lockdowns are monotonous, lockdowns are mentally tiring but not for all. For some, lockdowns are an opportunity, lockdowns are a door to new horizons and dare we say lockdowns are also economically lucrative.

 When more than half the world is gasping for breath in its attempt to somehow sneak through the claws of a global pandemic, a few of India’s Gen Z have managed to find an escape route holding the hands of creativity, aided with their unparalleled passion and quest to bring in change.

 Firozabad’s Sonam Gupta, who was sent on a ‘leave without pay’ three months into her first job as a Commis-III (junior chef) in one of the country’s biggest hotel chains, started her own food delivery venture 'Barni' amid lockdown.

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 From cupcakes to customized cookies to vegetarian north Indian meals, ‘Barni’ has managed to break the monotony and also erase the concerns over safety through her ‘ghar ka khana’.

 “Everything is homemade. Times are such, I know safety measures are the biggest concern for someone who wants to order food so that was the first thing I took care of,” said Sonam.

 Sonam’s business is not yet depended on an online food delivery app. Instead, she has targeted all her Instagram and Facebook followers, who were anyway in awe of her culinary skills. Barely a fortnight into business, it has already started to make waves in the small Uttar Pradesh town.

 “I don’t have time to breathe. I start baking at 11 pm and continue till six in the morning. After about five hours of sleep, I start packaging and other stuff,” said Sonam.

 She couldn’t have timed the launch of Barni better. Because of Rakshabandhan, she received more than 30 orders without any promotion in the first week in itself and doesn’t see the graph dipping at least till the second week of this month.

 Her USP? Barni of course. Assorted home-baked cookies are packed in a barni – small jar – and packaged in a box ready for delivery, which her customers say goes beyond eating, and is a complete experience.

 With the initial success, Sonam is set to take ‘Barni’ to Delhi, where she used to live before the lockdown, within a couple of weeks.

 Kolkata-based Vridhi Sahu was at her wit's end even four months ago. The pandemic had hit her chances of landing up a job as a graphic designer and content writer real hard. After weeks of ‘resume sending,’ she decided to take the entrepreneurial route and in came PutTheCherryonTop_77, her Instagram handle through which she deals with clients looking for content of any kind, logo designs, ad campaigns, and even WhatsApp wallpapers.

 Vridhi has already written the entire content of a website along with its designs. She has designed the logo of a t-shirt brand and writes weekly flyers for a supermarket in California. And the fresh from college girl has done all that while pursuing a course in media production.

 When asked about the nitty-gritty of her logo designs, Vridhi said: “I take around 2000-2500 for a logo design in which I give 3 trials and more if needed. I have a questionnaire and based on that I do the ideation.”

 She is now designing an app and a website to land for a foreign client. "I need funds to invest in the business, organically it's really tough, let’s see where it goes,” said Vridhi.

 Music had always been the gateway to happiness for 22-year-old Rajat Paul but little he did know that it would also turn out to be an alternate career option. Fresh with an engineering degree and a job at a software company in Bangalore, Asansol’s Rajat came to know that his joining was postponed because of the lockdown.

 “At first it was in April. Then they delayed it to the first week of May. Then again to its last week. That’s when I decided there is no point of just sitting at home like this,” said Rajat.

 He decided to use Google Duo and the Zoom video call app to give online guitar sessions to a bunch of kids. “I wasn’t really serious at the beginning. A few kids in my locality showed interested, so I started with a group of five and now I have four separate batches of enthusiastic kids and two batches of adults,” Rajat added.

 The fun jamming sessions soon turned out to be a breeding ground for budding musicians not only in Asansol but also in different parts of Bengal including Kolkata.

 But posting videos and going live on social media with your guitar is one thing, teaching chords, notes, and rhythm virtually is an entire ballgame altogether. So how does he manage?

 “See thankfully, music is still not like studies where you have to force someone to join. The ones who attend my sessions do it willingly; they have the passion to do it so it becomes easier. As far as the technicalities are concerned, the knowledge of software has helped me. There are options to demonstrate video presentations in a zoom call, so I do that easily. And if some of my students don’t have a guitar, I send them online notes through which they can have the basic sense,” explained Rajat, who is now at a fix whether to take up the offer of working from home later in September from the software company or continue to build on the music-world he has created with love and care.