The COVID-19-induced lockdown might have been mentally draining for many but it had a positive side too as hundreds of women were able to give wings to their long-cherished dreams while cooped up at homes. And these sanguine women showed the world how to overcome the pangs of floods and pandemic with smiling faces as they virtually ruled the roost by foraying into confectionary business and manufacturing exotic fancy items.
Many women started small-scale manufacturing units to make ends meet but for some, it was time to realize their dreams and fly high. And one such person who lived the dream is Revathy Roopesh.
Revathy chose to tread a different path by introducing to her friends the true essence of traditional concoctions. Riding on the tried and tested recipes of her grand-mom, Revathy has brought out different types of ‘lehyams’ (herbal jam), face packs and hair oils. Initially, only friends on social media could grab these proven products but later a full-fledged business venture was in her hands. Currently, Revathy’s business under the brand name ‘Ammamma’ has crossed Kerala and Indian borders and is doing roaring trade in foreign markets too.
Secret formula behind ‘Ammamma’
“The secret formula behind ‘Ammamma’ is from my grandmother, father’s mother, who is still active as ever. We just tried to revive certain traditional concoctions that were shelved due to lack of time or the difficulty involved in preparing them. The secret behind ‘Ammamma’s’ formula is simple - innate gift for cooking, unadulterated ingredients and desire to work hard,” says Revathy.
Presently, Revathy makes different types of lehyams out of ‘Pookula’ (flowers stalks of coconut trees), ‘Ellu’ (sesame seeds) and ‘Ulli’ (shallots), special hair oil and unique face packs.
Passed down through generations
“It was my long-standing dream to do something independently with a difference and the lockdown period turned out to be the perfect platform. Food has the potential to satisfy a person physically and mentally, and what if it is nutritious too? I had grown up seeing the unique food habits of my grandma,” notes Revathy.
When there is a birth in the family, grandma used to take the lead in bathing the newborn and providing post-delivery care to the mother. ‘Pookula’ lehyam, ‘ulli’ lehyam and ‘ellu’ lehyam will be prepared at home to increase haemoglobin content in blood and ease back pain.
“All nutritious food that should be consumed by new mother was prepared at home and I thought of starting a business venture taking a cue from the secret formulas of my grandmother,” says Revathy.
Revathy was a housewife during pre-lockdown days. “I loved doing whatever touched my mind. I was more into writing and social work,” she adds. Her husband Roopesh is working with Coir Board and daughter Vaishaki is a class V student at Kendriya Vidyalaya.
All in the family
Revathy prepares lehyams and other products as per the orders received. There is a great demand for lehyams for children and new mothers. As no preservative is used in these preparations, lehyams are sent to customers through speed courier. Now there is a delay in courier service due to the prevailing situation but the firm decision is not to use preservatives in the products, notes Revathy.
“While preparing the concoction, it should be continuously stirred for close to six hours. The demand for chemical-free lehyams that are good for health is pretty high. The customers are happy with the products’ quality and that keeps us going,” she says. Revathy started ‘Ammamma’ along with her sister and they are backed by the expertise of grandmother and mom.
Tall order to prepare ‘pookula’ lehyam
‘Pookula’ lehyam has many health benefits and orders are flowing for this product. “Earlier there was a scarcity of ‘pookula’ and the production of ‘pookula’-based lehyam was also stopped for a while. One kg of lehyam can be made from one ‘pookula’ and no unwanted ingredients are added to increase the quantity of lehyam, adds Revathy.
Women and lockdown
Many women dusted off their hidden talent in a bid to support their families during the lockdown days, and homemade savouries, cakes and pickles had hit the market with a bang. “Women became very active during hard times and they can do wonders,” she notes.
If anyone wants to start a food-based business, a licence of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is essential. This licence can be taken through Akshaya centers without any hassles.