“The need to be productive and find meaningful ways to stay engaged was the reason Gouri’s Goodies came into being,” says Gouri Gupta, 50, founder of the brand that makes nutritious and ‘guilt-free’, healthy snacks.
Based out of Mumbai, Gouri identifies as being dyslexic and says that conventional education was always something that stuck out as a sore thumb for her. “My father’s passion for food has come to me in abundance and a lot of credit for that goes to my upbringing. My father would very often take us on these shopping jaunts and speak about what he was buying. Of everything I was exposed to growing up, food was something that stayed with me,” she tells The Better India.
She mentions here that being creatively occupied was of prime importance to her and she found working on creating food allowed her to express herself well. “In a sense, being dyslexic pushed me more towards exploring other talents, given that academics wasn’t an area I excelled in,” she says. Even as early as Class 6, Gouri recollects making her own sandwiches and experimenting with food. “I am a self-taught baker as well,” she adds.
‘My Inherent Love for Food’
“My father’s insistence on eating the right kind of food coupled with my love for it was what led to Gouri’s Goodies. He always laid a lot of emphasis on eating fresh and seasonal food. In fact our diet always had so much colour thanks to all the fruits and vegetables we ate,” she says. While this was the case, it wasn’t until 2006 that Gouri felt ready to launch her own healthy snack brand.
One of the triggers for starting this was also her husband who, in 2000, had just finished a course on naturopathy. Gouri says, “I saw the kind of impact that mindful eating had on him. The best part was seeing how the food I cooked was enabling him to live a better life. That was an amazing feeling.”
The family adopted many practises of the naturopathy way of life and the need to make healthy food taste good became a high priority for Gouri.
“I knew that no matter how healthy or beneficial, if the food did not taste good, no one would eat it,” she says.
This is when Gouri started experimenting – eating whole foods and clean food is what her motto became. “There was a phase when I had completely cut off sugar, cookies, pasta and other such food from our diet but realised along the way that the key to good health is maintaining a balance in what we eat and not necessarily cutting out any type of food,” she says. This understanding helped her in building the range of products at Gouri’s Goodies as well.
The initial tweaks that Gouri made were small ones where she started by substituting sugar with honey and used various kinds of grains instead of just sticking to wheat. “This also gave me an exposure to so many different grains,” says Gouri.
‘Starting from My Home Kitchen’
“My initial customer base were family and friends. I started making small quantities and soon friends would request me to put together gift hampers and were even willing to pay for it,” she says. It was with that confidence that Gouri started to put out the products at a gym. It seemed like a good place to begin since the products only had healthy ingredients and the gym clients were a great place to start. “This led to a lot of word-of-mouth marketing and orders started coming in,” she adds.
One of the earliest lessons that Gouri learnt while trying to run the business was the importance of pricing, however, she says, “Understanding the market and pricing the products has not been my strong point at all and that is an area I seek help from my husband, Mohit. He has a better head for numbers.” The bars vary in price and depends on what goes into it and Gouri says that one should be willing to pay anything upwards of Rs 765 for a set of nine health bars.
“I was happy to work with people and markets that understood the need for healthy eating. Now, after all these years, I see that happening,” she says.
From having customers move away at the mention of oats, since it wasn’t popular then, to later customers grabbing the bar just because it had oats in it, Gouri says that she has seen the evolution of the healthy snack market in India.
“The food industry was largely gravitating on the trends but just after COVID struck there seems to have been a shift and people now want to understand what they are consuming,” says Gouri.
Having built the business from home, Gouri says that one of the reasons why she decided to move into a commercial space was her son who once complained about how he had flax seeds coming out of his clothes. That is why in 2014, Gouri’s Goodies moved to a workshop in Mahalakshmi area. “This also came at a time when my sons had completed their schooling and were ready to move out for further studies. It helped me deal with the empty nest syndrome as well.”
There is a huge range of snacks on offer at Gouri’s Goodies and these include cereals, energy bars and even laddus.
“We make everything in small batches to ensure we are able to maintain the quality and each batch is fresh,” she says. These products are also customisable and can be consumed by all age groups and people with various dietary specifications as well. “We offer vegan, diabetic-friendly and even gluten-free options,” she adds.
Gouri says that just before COVID hit, the company was seeing a very robust sales growth of close to 30 per cent year-on-year. With a few retail platforms pulling out during COVID, the sales have now seen a dip.
Being able to have the product delivered to the customer within two to six days of it being made is an achievement that Gouri is extremely proud of.
All of the recipes that are used are curated in-house by Gouri who says that with each new product she launches, she does a few rounds of trials to fine tune the product. “From being a one-woman-army, today the business employs a handful of others who work out of the manufacturing unit in Mahalakshmi.
These products can be purchased directly from their website here.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)