Starting with International Women’s Day in March, THE TEENAGER TODAY has been bringing you a series ‘Women Mean Business’. Each article profiles an inspiring woman entrepreneur or professional, insights into what shaped them and their experience of entrepreneurship.
The sweltering heat is finally behind us and one thing that must surely have helped in getting through the summer is that favourite of young and old alike — a cold, refreshing ice cream!
The origins of ice-cream have never been clearly established with some accounts tracing it to China in 7 A.D. to even 200 B.C. It was only in 1956 that ice-cream machinery was imported to India by Kwality Ice Creams, and operations began on a commercial scale at their New Delhi factory. Presently, India is the third largest producer of ice cream in the world, close on the heels of the USA and Japan. So what inspired Darshan Kaur Khalsa to venture into this industry?
Mumbai-based Darshan’s family was already in the ice-cream business as distributors for Kwality Ice Cream. When Kwality was bought by Walls, they disbanded the existing distributors. Darshan’s father had an extremely good relationship with the team members who had left Kwality, who encouraged him to start manufacturing on his own, helping him with machinery and know-how. Thus Darshan Milk Food Products was born, concentrating on ice-cream and kulfis. Their USP was that they only used fresh cream and natural flavouring and no vegetable oils.
As a young girl, Darshan never wanted to join the family business. “I hated that my parents made ice-cream. We never got a proper family vacation. When we had our summer vacation, my parents would be busy with their season time. During Diwali and Christmas vacations, my parents were busy with the marriage season. Even at the dinner table, my parents would only discuss the ice-cream factory.”
Darshan’s mother always dreamed of her becoming a doctor and so she took up Science in college. After her 12th Boards, she began helping her father in the factory. Darshan started taking a liking to the line so much so that a week before her CET exams, she sold all her 12th standard books and went away to Sidhbari to study the Bhagvad Gita! That’s how she skipped her CET entrance exam and ventured into a Bachelor’s in Management Studies (BMS) instead.
Post her graduation, Darshan interned with Zee News who offered her a job in Zee Business. Her father saw her slogging for 15-16 hours for peanuts so he offered her a job at his factory. But six months later she married her sweetheart, Kshitij Kulkarni, and left for Dubai. Two months later, she realised that the time spent at her father’s office was the most productive of her life and decided to return. Her friend offered her a consultant position with their organic A2 milk supply brand Praakritik. Seeing Darshan work for Praakritik, her father realised that she had a lot more potential than he had thought and offered her a partnership in the business.
Naresh Karmalker has been associated with The Teenager Today family since the last 30 years. He has spent the last three decades in the social sector, is an avid networker and trainer and is currently in the process of setting up start-ups in two diverse sectors.