When Covid-19 outbreak started and subsequent lockdown was imposed, Saba Altaf, 37, had a lot of time to dedicate to her passion- cooking. Every day she would come up with a sumptuous dish and her husband would love it.
For every dish she would prepare, Saba would click a picture just as a memory.
Browsing through her mobile phone picture gallery one day, her husband suggested her to start an Instagram page and upload all those pictures on the social networking site
"So it was then my Instagram page ‘delights_ by_Saba’ came into existence and thus began my journey as an entrepreneur\."
Settled in Saudi Arabia, Saba has many non-Kashmiri friends who would insist her to send them recopies she makes.
She had no idea that her passion for cooking would make her delicacies most sought after in Kashmir.
Almost everybody in Saba's family was very fond of chocolate dates and she would get huge requests to bring them along when she would return back home from Saudi.
This time when she came back in November 2020, she didn't get a huge stock of dates along but given the demands of her closed ones, Saba decided to prepare them herself.
She also uploaded a message on her Instagram page with a caption, 'coming soon'. A lot of 'when’ requests poured in from her circle.
"I decided to give it a try since I was on vacation and had ample time on my side. I went to the market and got the raw material."
The other day, her first batch of chocolate dates was ready, Saba got some boxes and sent a few to her relatives and a few to ‘Instagram influencers’ and food enthusiasts.
"I made 12 boxes and called up a random delivery guy who promised me to deliver them at the right place."
Saba says: “The response was so overwhelming that the moment they tasted chocolate dates, they uploaded it as their Instagram story. From that moment I began to receive the orders."
From order of one or two kilograms of dates, Saba has received orders even to seven kilograms.
"I no more make boxes, but big baskets, that is the kind of response I received."
Besides dates, Saba also has introduced homemade customised chocolates, truffles, doughnuts, tarts and baskets, and order for all, she says, is pretty well.
"I get orders for anniversaries, birthdays, weddings etc and there have been no complaints from anywhere, which is good."
From procuring raw material to preparing the delicacies, Saba has been doing it all by herself.
However, given the frequency and quantity of orders, she feels that she requires to employee someone to manage things without a hassle.
"Recently I was a part of an exhibition, I did everything on my own and just within a day, however, I realised that someone should be there to help me out."
On average, she gets over four to five orders in a week and the range starts from Rs 160 and often goes upto Rs 10,000.
Saba, a mother of two, says that she has never compromised with her priorities in life.
"I manage my kids, fulfil all social commitments, take care of other members of my family, do the groceries and everything as a responsible woman.
Saba, a sociology postgraduate, is planning to open a physical store soon in Srinagar so that people can have one-stop-shop for all their orders.
"I have my husband’s back, who repeatedly asks me to see a place and go ahead. I am thankful for his support and cooperation."