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Mon, 25 Sep 2017

Northeast Today

Sikkim’s Chocolate Baron

Sikkim’s Chocolate Baron
July 19
16:45 2017

June Edition, In Conversation, NET Bureau, Sayantani Deb

She is a chef, a model, a designer, and also a social worker. She has many feathers in her cap. For her, entrepreneurship is not just a way to become successful, but it is also a process of making others successful. Northeast Today caught up Sonam Choden Bhutia, a young, dynamic, and versatile entrepreneur from Sikkim, who is slowly but gradually climbing up the ladder.

Iit is often said that a woman is able to do different things at a time as she has ‘10 hands’ and this ‘10-hand’ theory aptly fits with Sonam Choden Bhutia- a young enthusiastic entrepreneur hailing from the picturesque Himalayan state of Sikkim. Young Bhutia not only is trying out new avenues to prove herself, but is also constantly trying to make the world a better place for the less privileged.

“I am passionate about learning new things, meeting new people because when you meet new people you exchange ideas and you learn a lot from them,” she says while talking to Northeast Today.

Even though she is quite well known in Sikkim and the Northeast for her venture— Taste Bud Sikkim: Homemade Chocolates- however not many know that Sonam runs two ventures simultaneously. Besides Taste Bud Sikkim: Homemade Chocolates, she also owns a boutique in Gangtok.

“Apart from business, I also like to do social work. Since my school days I have loved helping others. During school days, I used to give tuitions to the kids of my village,” she says.

About Taste Bud Sikkim: Homemade Chocolates

Sonam says that making chocolates was a fortunate accident for her, as she never thought that one day she will have her own brand of chocolates.

“It was 2014, and then I was free for a few months. Through Facebook, I got to know about a workshop on chocolate making. The workshop was organized by NEDFi. I participated in the workshop, in which Assam’s Chandrani Sarmah and Avou Yeptho of Nagaland imparted training on making chocolates,” says Sonam.

After attending the workshop, Sonam participated at the Pang Lhabsol Festival at Rabangla, South Sikkim, where she introduced her own brand and this, she says, was the turning point in her career.

“Fixing on a name for the brand of my homemade chocolates was a big challenge. After a little bit of research and relentless discussions with my friends and family members someone suggested me the name Taste Bud Sikkim,” shares Sonam.

After naming her brand of homemade chocolates, she realized that the road ahead was full of competitors and she was not the only one with homemade chocolates. But after taking part at the Pang Lhabsol Festival, she realized that she can improve and do much better.

“This realization made me to improve and today, I believe that my brand of homemade chocolates is the only homemade chocolates running successfully in Sikkim,” she says.

Sonam has also worked in a project to promote her homemade chocolates in Destination North East Fair at New Delhi, where she introduced 26 flavors of her chocolates. These flavors include milk plain, dark plain, white plain, orange , strawberry, blueberry, mango, almond, coconut candy, caramel , hazel nut, butter scotch, ginger candy, Ganache, coconut balls milk, coconut balls white etc.

Sonam

Creating Opportunities

In total 15 women worked under Sonam at the Pang Lhabsol Festival.

“After the festival when I paid them, I realized that selling chocolates could be an employment generating avenue; not only for me but also for other financially weak girls and women,” she says.

According to Sonam, entrepreneurship means to be successful and make other successful by creating opportunities.

Sharing more about her challenges she says, “The path was not smooth as there were lots of problems before me. The most challenging of all was travelling because I had to take a huge quantity of chocolates with me to unknown and distant places.”

“I never get demotivated because if I get so, then who will support these unemployed women who were working with me,” she discloses.

Talking about her family she says, “My family has always been my back bone and everyone from within the family has always been supportive and motivating. They have believed in me and my work.”

Sharing further details about her life and work, Sonam says that meeting the Indian Prime Minister Narendra  Modi was a dream coming true.

“During the 65th plenary session of North Eastern Council (NEC), I got an opportunity of meeting our Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Shillong. Interacting with him is something that cannot be described in words,” she says.

Future Plans

In future, Sonam wants to setup her own outlet and support more unemployed women.

“I want to bring in more variation in flavors of chocolates, want to export my chocolates not only within India but to abroad as well,” she says.

She further promises that Taste Bud Sikkim will contribute a share of its profit to an orphanage and destitute home in Sikkim.

“I just don’t want to work for self, but for others as well; especially for the unemployed women,” she adds on.

Sonam urges the youngsters not to educate themselves just for the sake of getting a job.

“The youngsters should educate themselves to learn, because if you have knowledge then you will never be unemployed. It is essential for everyone to discover themselves, know their talents and do what they are passionate about. They should stay away from drugs,” she concludes.

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