Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg had once said, “You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.” On a macro scale, this proves to be true for all those in business. Zoom in and you’ll find it to be especially accurate for women.
India is largely a country where not many women are given opportunities, motivation, or even resources to reach deserved positions. But what is most disheartening is that the country neither expects us to nor does it provide real, substantial support. ‘Making a name’ for oneself holds different definitions for men and women, all thanks to the long-standing gender stereotypes. Backed by our archaic ‘traditional’ values, the role of women outside of the home means next to nothing for the vast majority of the Indian population.
Taking charge into their own hands are sisters Alyssa and Simone Chesson. Their brainchild, BONO Boutique Ice Cream, is a testament to the intellect, grit, and hard work of Indian women. Indian women in business (or any other field, in fact) seem to have to prove their might in a much more fierce and obvious manner. Where men walk, women must run. The power-duo sits proudly at the forefront of this nostalgic, delicious, and modern homegrown ice cream brand - one that is women-led and owned.
We spoke to them about all things women in business and of course, ice cream. They lent us their insights, and also some inspiration.
India is a country of many business niches especially in the food sector. How did you settle on ice cream, and what were the baby steps you took to execute the initial idea?
Although there were many ice cream brands that were local, national, and international, I saw a gap in the market for a homegrown product that catered to the international palette. I spent about 12 months at home, working and building on various recipes. Once I was sure of recipes, and was able to test them out in small sample batches, I became more and more convinced that the concept had a strong foundation.
Tell us the tale of the name ‘BONO’, and why do you think it captures the spirit of your brand?
BONO is a spin of the Italian word/verb, buono, which means to be good, feel good, describe a meal, or even a general state of being. Given how eating ice cream is meant to put us in this state, we chose BONO as a way to capture the spirit of a modern Indian brand.
Beyond the vanilla/chocolate/strawberry options that seem to rule India, BONO introduces India to fresh flavours. What goes in behind creating them, recipe testing, and finally releasing them?
As we believe in small batch production and using the freshest ingredients possible, we’re constantly working on ice cream flavours. We then proceed to introduce them into our experience centre. Once we get enough feedback and we’re confident of the ability of the product to be moved into a permanent flavour on the menu, we then move to tub packaging. Our USP being ‘cheeky flavours’, we stay away from the usual run of the mill flavours available.
Having built a homegrown brand from scratch, what would you say are the biggest misconceptions people have about being women in business?
People don’t think we’re around for longevity. Living in a patriarchal system, we’re still expected to slow down after marriage and kids. It’s the best feeling to be able to be two strong women who run the brand and we hope to inspire more young women.
Ice cream exists in several aspects of everyone’s lives, from childhood nostalgia to a delightful treat after a long day of work. What do you want your consumers to take away, or to feel, as they dig into jars of BONO?
Exactly everything your question asked, is what we are trying to invoke. The nostalgia of a childhood memory, the trip with your partner when it was just the both of you soaking in a moment. BONO represents the foodie in us who is adventurous, avoids the status quo and chooses to walk along the path less travelled!
Find BONO Boutique Ice Cream here.
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