From law to entrepreneurship – Manasi’s Second Act
Mia&J stands for Manasi (Gupta) and Jaana. It is a fine confectionery brand, aiming to become a consumer brand in the country; and started in 2014.
Manasi is a 36 year old trained litigation lawyer, who practiced the law for many years, and then took on a path of self expression through business.
Jaana is the smartest and the most beautiful labrador in the world. She is as bright as the sun, loves almond biscotti, car rides, dog biscuits made with oat flour and bananas, and snoring at work. Manasi and Jaana live and work together in Gurgaon.
Over to Manasi –
I am a 36 year old, former litigating lawyer now setting up a national consumer brand, for the last three years. For every time I have been asked how drastic or radical the change has been, I could buy a business class ticket to Helsinki and back.
I was not, and am not driven by what society deems as paths to follow. It is a futile thought to engage in that the time and resources spent in gaining a law degree and thereafter, working in the legal profession should be the determinant of whether it is economical or efficient to continue to follow that path. I love the law, I love the mental gymnast it allows me to be. But I also recognised in my late twenties that I was a creature made for freedom and adventure. And I had to build my own.
I have been asked to share my experience on the smoothness or not of the transition. And its modern day romanticisation.
All I can say with absolute surety is that doing something impeccably and as perfectly as you can requires grit, perseverance, determination, emotional, mental and psychological tenacity, and cutting through the every day bullshit which our lives are built on. These are virtues. Building virtues, practicing virtues and holding your own: it is for you to determine if you are up for this.
I am the founder of, and hold together every day Mia&J Food Store Private Limited. We are makers of all that is natural, pure, honest and beautiful in confectionery. We believe in doing the right thing, there is no choice in the matter. This means cookies, candy, muesli, packaged baked products (think muffins, mini cakes), jams and sauces, baking mixes, dog cookies and food gifts.
Our business is built on the foundation of deference to the truth: be it in ingredient, technique, process or marketing. And an unwavering belief that if the inner is strong, the outer will, unquestionably, be spectacular.
Everything we make is delicious. Because everything is all natural, free of preservatives, additives, flavouring, cheap fats as substitutes for butter, and everything else which isn’t real.
The business has come to the fore after a three year long pilot project, where we (i) tested the market across business models, products, and production. This meant testing the consistency of large volume recipes, controlling variables in a natural product, understanding global best practices in setting up a manufacturing facility, and on a domestic level: understanding the dynamics of the Indian market, be it pricing, packaging or machinery capability.
The pilot project was preceded by a year long expedition in self discovering Indian philosophy, the French culinary arts, and Japanese minimalism.
In the last two years, and following the pilot project, we have set up a state of the art manufacturing kitchen in Udyog Vihar Phase V, Gurgaon, in a building created from scratch. The building itself is a testament to the brand we have created. We are the first Indian customer for two large German food processing machinery manufacturers, and are now working to retail and build national collaborations with businesses.
Through sheer perseverance, grit, determination, solitude, and shedding the unnecessary spread across six years, I and therefore we, as a business, are hurtling towards creating a new market category in the FMCG sector in the country. This is happening as I write, largely due to the sound legal and analytical skills which empower me tremendously as a business creator and operator.
The essence is only ONE. Every external factor can be blamed forever. Or, intense, dirty, heartbreaking, gut wrenching, deep thinking can be done, to connect with one’s own. And then, to withstand the storms which will come along the way. Magic happens then. My life and journey is a testament to that.
Good luck on your journey.