Age, indeed, is just a number.
At the age of 90, Harbhajan Kaur sold her besan barfis at a market. Four years later, her business, ‘Harbhajan’s’, is thriving.
The journey began when Raveena Suri, Harbhajan Kaur’s daughter, sat down with her and asked her whether she had any regrets in life. She said that while she had had a fulfilling life overall, her one regret was that she had never earned her own money. That sparked an idea in Raveena’s mind, who suggested that her mother start a business. Four years later, ‘Harbhajan’s’ is a successful venture based out of Chandigarh.
Harbhajan Kaur monetized her skills with the help of her daughter and granddaughter
Building a business wasn’t something Harbhajan had planned on, but it was her daughter who helped her monetize her skills. “All our lives, we have had food at home, including sweets, and squashes, and sherbets. She has always been such an amazing cook but was content in remaining behind the scenes,” Raveena told The Better India. “Like many mothers of that generation, she continued to work for all of us, tirelessly.”
Harbhajan first set up shop in a local market. She interacted with customers and sold her homemade barfis, and came back home with Rs. 2,000 – her ‘own earnings’.
Since then, Harbhajan started making an assortment of foods – barfis, chutneys, and pickles. She would take them to the market every 10 days. She soon started getting orders, and with the guidance of her daughter, she turned her practice into a business. It was her granddaughter, however, who gave ‘Harbhajan’s’ its brand packaging and tagline – Bachpan yaad aajaye.
Raveena also narrated a heartwarming story involving her daughter – Harbhajan’s granddaughter, who recently got married. She insisted that the wedding invitations go out with sweets made by her nani. She wanted her nani’s sweets at the wedding as well – Harbhajan made 200kg of barfi for the occasion.
There’s something incredible about women coming to the realisation that their ‘duties’ – cooking, cleaning, or anything else – are valid labour and are worthy of monetizing.
Having financial freedom and independence is empowering, no matter what your age
Harbhajan’s first earnings were a huge achievement for her, considering that she was always a homemaker who did not look beyond home and family. “That earning not only brought her happiness but also the confidence to take this initiative forward and make something of it,” Raveena says.
The brand has grown over the years, but what matters more is that Harbhajan has expanded her comfort zone. “The same lady who wouldn’t sit in a group because she was shy, has now been giving interviews and speaking to her clients about feedback, which in turn, has transformed her life.”
Over four years, Harbhajan has made over 500kg of barfi. She takes orders at her own pace and ensures that she doesn’t overwork herself.
Anand Mahindra, a business tycoon and chairman of Mahindra Group, tweeted about her story earlier this year, calling her ‘entrepreneur of the year’ and stating that our idea of a ‘start-up’ entrepreneur should include women like Harbhajan Kaur. The tweet received several positive reactions.
There’s no right age to pursue your dreams, after all.
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