Yogisattva | Never Let Anyone Dictate Your Worth
She’s true to her ideals and true to her mission, Raveena aspires to encourage individuals to listen to their bodies. Particularly with food. “Food is a personal relationship between you and you’re body, mind, and emotions. How and what we eat dictates how we feel about others and ourselves,” she explains. Her company, Yogisattva, offers organic, vegan, gluten-free, & refined sugar-free food, and she clarifies that one can choose whatever lifestyle, as long as it involves listening to your body. What started as a severe lactose intolerance coupled with her practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, led her on an incredible journey to discover how to eat clean, wholesome and nourishing food that is available in nature. Through cooking classes, events, exhibits, & catering, Raveena is changing the perception of food, specifically dessert options for many in Mumbai. Also a certified Ashtanga yoga instructor, Raveena shares her journey to starting Yogisattva, her prior aspirations and the importance of being receptive to change.
What is Yogisattva and how did this journey begin?
Yogisattva, initially started off as a Yoga inspired merchandise brand retailing mugs, notebooks, badges, keychains, jewelry, etc. However, it soon changed direction to focus only on Food. In 2015, I suffered from severe stomach infections which were brought upon by my lactose intolerance. While attending a Yoga Teacher Training course the same year, we were put on a Vegan diet and the muscle strength and energy I gained was unmatched compared to any other eating plan I had ever been on before. Growing up largely vegetarian anyway, being Vegan was not challenging for me but I was keen to educate myself more about the same which led me to fly to Bali to pursue a Chef Training Program in Raw Vegan Cuisine. When I returned from the course, I would often workout with my close friends and offer them a smoothie after class. They were amazed that food could taste so good without any dairy. Upon their encouragement, I decided to start selling Vegan food.
How did Yogisattva evolve into what it is today?
Yogisattva is now a full fledged business that offers organic, vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free food. We offer desserts for sale on a daily basis, savoury food for private catering, food consultancy services, cooking and yoga classes. It evolved to what it is today largely through the support of my family and friends. This journey would not have been complete without their encouragement and guidance.
What is one thing you wished you knew when starting out?
I wish I knew how to make a proper business plan to begin with. I have never been strong in finance. It’s a skill I needed to work on over time. I started this on a very small scale and it really grew big on it’s own through word of mouth and Instagram so I needed to work on my understanding of math to keep up with the volume of orders. At a women entrepreneurs meet, Pooja Dhingra, founder of Le15 Patisserie had recommended the audience to read The High Performance Entrepreneur by Subroto Bagchi. The book gave me an understanding of having a proper financial module to work under for Yogisattva.
On your website you say, “Yogisattva literally translates as 'Yoga Being'. Yoga is an eight fold path towards enlightenment. Every person is on a different stage of this eight fold path, making each individual a 'Yogisattva'.” Can you elaborate a little more on your inspiration behind the name and how food connects to it?
The inspiration behind the name was largely born out of my own personal practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. A personal tragedy in 2013 made me stumble upon Buddhism. In Buddhism, ‘bodhisattva’ translates as enlightened being. When I started out to make a yoga inspired merchandise brand, the name Yogisattva embodied everything I believe in. When I decided to shift direction towards food, the name still fit. Food is a personal relationship between you and you’re body, mind and emotions. How and what we eat dictates how we feel about others and ourselves. I was keen to approach Veganism with kindness and a principle of inclusivity. I wanted everyone who decides to purchase my food or attend my cooking class to feel that we are all sharing food in a no judgement environment. You can choose to eat whatever you want and believe whatever lifestyle you want to as long as it involves listening to your body.
When did you decide that this is what you wanted to do full time?
It wasn’t an informed decision, it all happened organically. I just went with the flow and whatever opportunities came my way I took them. But this year I decided to fully commit towards building this business into something bigger and better.
Do you think as a founder, you need to have everything figured out in the beginning?
Definitely not. Part of the charm of being an entrepreneur is figuring things out as you go. If we could predict everything before it happened - we wouldn’t be risk takers.
What has been your favorite part about starting this business?
The look on a customers face when they try my Ice Cream for the first time and realise it’s completely Dairy Free is still my most favourite part.
What is your mission with Yogisattva and where do you see it going?
My mission with Yogisattva is to encourage individuals to listen to their bodies and make the best decisions they can for their own personal wellbeing and health. I would like to encourage a body positive environment where we learn to celebrate food and in turn celebrate ourselves regardless of shape or size. I think it’s important for people of all age groups to know how to satisfy themselves nutritionally without giving up on taste. It’s about being on a long term lifestyle plan versus a short term diet. I see Yogisattva products being more accessible to people in different areas of Mumbai and hopefully in India soon enough. I would like to do more cooking classes around India as well, create savoury meal plans services and hopefully get a small retail space of my own.
Do you believe that certain things happen for a reason and why?
Absolutely. I think some careers choose you versus you choosing them. I grew up wanting to be an actor in mainstream Bollywood films. It had been my dream since the fourth grade. But overtime, my passion and interest in health and fitness grew very strong and it was impossible to ignore. The process of auditioning really broke my self esteem apart but with Yogisattva I learnt how to appreciate all of my insecurities and be more body confident. I think sometimes you need to accept that you may have evolved to want different things in life and that another path might be the appropriate one based on the person you have become in this present moment compared to the person you were growing up. Being receptive to change is the only way to grow and evolve.
Has it been hard introducing raw & vegan cuisine to the community in Mumbai?
I wouldn’t say it’s been hard because I approached it differently. I decided to make food and then talk about it and that really worked in my favor. There are many people who still don’t have any idea as to what it means to adapt a vegan food plan because of the lack of understanding of ingredients and produce but that’s why the need to host the cooking classes as it gives me a platform to clarify the same.
If you had to give one piece of advice to another woman going out on her own, what would it be?
Never let anyone else dictate your worth. You are strong, confident and a badass - don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise. You got this.