Pooja Dhingra Reflects On Her Decade-Long Entrepreneurial Journey At DWA 2019
- IWB Post
- November 29, 2019
At this year’s Digital Women Awards, organised and hosted by SheThePeople.Tv, we got up close and personal with leading digital businesswomen of India. And, amongst them was also India’s beloved Macaron Queen, Pooja Dhingra!
Owner-chef at Le15 Patisserie and Cafe in Mumbai, Pooja is a favourite of celebrities and of all those who love finding a taste of Paris in their desserts. Since her first store in 2010, she has expanded her business and now has five outlets in Mumbai – but did she have it easy dealing with people and their stereotypical reactions?
“Husband off ho gaye?”, was one of the many strange questions that the 23-year-old encountered in her beginner days. Talking about which, she shared that sometimes when people would walk into her kitchen with business purposes, they’d inquire for the owner and manager, and on learning that it was a young woman holding the post, would get really perplexed. And even upon finding the truth, they’d rather find it easy and more acceptable to assume that a marital tragedy must have taken place.
A lot has changed over the decade, but well, the list of prejudices our society holds can never be too long, “It still happens. Sometimes I’d be in a meeting, and notice that when the discussion would shift to finances etc., all eyes would move straight towards the men on the team.”
Work on your goals on a day to day basis, irrespective of whether things are going well or not. @poojadhingraa #DigitalWomenAwards
Pooja also spoke about other crucial aspects of entrepreneurial journey, one of which is learning the art of team management. Though she doesn’t have a team-management strategy per se, but she follows the basic rule: Give respect, get respect. “Also, I strongly believe in creating an environment that offers more than monthly income. For example, the guy who sits at the front desk is passionate about photography, so recently we got him involved in a project that allowed him to channel energy toward his passion,” said she. And added, “ensure to add value to their personality with their stay with you.”
Moving ahead to the topic of the day, Pooja talked about balancing brick and mortar v/s digital platform for a brand, sharing that in her opinion, each holds a unique place. “Physical is a halo experience. People drop by and touch and feel the essence, and digital brings in convenience.”
One of the things she wishes to change as she retrospected, is to be more aware and conscious financially, “My advice to young women entrepreneurs would be to remain actively involved in financial decisions. From targets to break-even to industry standards, be in-sync with all the basic parameters.”
For those who are not aware, Pooja also hosts a podcast that goes by a rather intriguing title, ‘NoSugarCoat’. Developed with an idea to hold no-holds bar conversation and bring to light the stories behind restaurant walls and kitchen doors. With that playing on our mind, in-between the hustle-bustle of sessions, lunch hour, and inspiring conversations, IWB managed to get into a quick #NoSugarCoat conversation with the chef. Dig in:
One No-SugarCoat truth about being a woman in the baking industry
When I started Le15, I was pretty young and one of the few women in the baking industry. Happy to say that 10 years later things for women are changing, and happy to be part of that movement.
One No-SugarCoat feeling about your entreprenurial journey
Sometimes overwhelming, sometimes lonely, but most times exciting!
And lastly, one No-SugarCoat advice to women entering the arena as ambitious chefs
Firstly, find something that you love and keep it real. Build a brand around something that you are truly and completely compassionate about. It could be anything – cars to cooking – but when it’s done with utmost passion and authenticity, it really shows through your work.