We spoke to the Indian Instagram star with more than 80k followers
Foodofmumbai will get your tastebuds tingling
Start-ups find Indian economies extremely conducive for growth. However, young entrepreneurs face several cultural obstacles because of their age, gender and appearances. Saloni Kukreja is one such passionate and hardworking entrepreneur who started her food blog two years ago at a tender age of 18 years old.
The blog has since grown and now has almost 84,000 followers on it’s Instagram page. As she puts it, ‘Food of Mumbai’ was created to, “spread awareness about the food of Mumbai, from street food to fine dining.”
“I was deciding where I wanted to study after my 10th grade board examinations, and I was in Singapore seeing universities when I began thinking about this blog. I have always been passionate about food, so obviously my phone gallery is filled with different dishes of different cuisines I’ve tried at places. The day my family and I made the decision that I would not study in Singapore, but go to a college here in Mumbai itself, I started the blog. I wanted to do something more than just merely attending classes.” On 24th July, 2014, Saloni uploaded her first post on the foodofmumbai instagram page.
She started off with an Instagram page named foodofmumbai where she critiqued some well-knowned and some really good, but yet unknown restaurants. She began attending blogger meets.
“Initially, I felt like a fish out of water. I was so unaware about how things worked, I didn’t know how to network so I had a personal barrier to break. I was the youngest one in the crowd. I was just 18 when I went for my first meet and I got this vibe that people were looking down on me because of my age.”
Before her first interaction with other bloggers and with owners of restaurants, no one knew her gender or identity. While she has put up other details in her description on her Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin pages, she never thought her age or gender would be an important fact to put up in the description section of her foodofmumbai page.
After the initial weeks of visiting restaurants and blogging, she began interacting and learning from other bloggers. She learned the nitty gritty of having her own business.
“I learned how to make my business cards, how to network and spread my name around, how to pitch my idea in front of a huge crowd, how make a business model. After all the learning, I would work on my business model and make changes based on the changing economic scenario.”
“From my business model, I hadn’t envisioned the growth of my blog to this extent. I had decided to stop working on it after a year or probably a little more. I didn’t want to make it my full time job. However, the growth has been unexpected and so I’m considering other things like food merchandising.”
Although her business has been so successful, the beginning was a little rough.
“Several PR teams treated me like I was nobody, some would give me a hard time because I am so young to be a food critic, some would just not give me the respect I deserved. Other bloggers often questioned my capabilities, not through words but through their actions. While some restaurants made special arrangements for me when I was going to critique them and treated me with respect, some people were surprised to see how much I’m doing and capable of doing at my age. I did get some doubtful vibes from some restaurants. However, now after 2 years of being in this field, I’ve created my brand name.
“Their doubtful vibes and treatment sometimes made me question my capabilities.”
Despite the whispered criticisms, Saloni stayed strong and continued to pursue her passion for food. Her open mindedness and dedication for her blog let her discover new avenues and learn the minute details about running a business in India’s growing food industry.
Her young age distinguished her from the rest of the food bloggers, and she has clearly used this to her advantage in learning new things and experimenting with her blog style and viewers. She overcame not only the challenges thrown into her path by others, and simultaneously overcame her own doubts and fears.