Entrepreneur grandmas set example, run farm stay at the age of 90 and 72
Lakshmi started her business at the age of 89 and soon her daughter joined in. Now, this power duo run a farm stay near Chennai and wish to give people an authentic cultural experience.
There is no perfect time to act upon dreams, nor do they have an expiration date. The opportunities are endless, and one can always try to achieve what one dreams of at any age. And a perfect example of this is this mother-daughter duo.
Growing up in a conservative household, Lakshmi (90) has always wished to do something of her own. But, due to constraints and societal expectations, she didn't think of stepping into a business. Despite that, when she turned 89, the woman quickly changed her course and established Vaksana farm stay in Rettanai Village, Tindivanam, near Chennai.
However, things haven't been easy for her. Starting a business at the age of 89 is challenging, especially when you have tried your hands at different things. "I always wanted to have my own venture. I used to make podi masala, crackers, tried candle making, and more. I even went door-to-door to sell them. My quality was good, but door-to-door selling took a toll on my body. In the longer run, it was difficult to sustain my job," Lakshmi shared in a conversation with Hindustan Times.
She further added, "If I wanted to have my own business, it was time to focus on my strengths. So we decided to start the farm stay."
Soon, her daughter Kasthuri Sivaraman (72) joined her in the venture. When the duo started the business, they had close to no experience in the hospitality industry. However, with time and with the help of Kashturi's son, Kiruba Shankar and his daughters Krithya and Kalpitha, they managed to turn this around and make it a successful venture. The granddaughters would teach their grandmother and great-grandmother about marketing, social media, Google reviews, and more!
Slowly, when the word about Vaksana farms started to spread, they received more inquiries about the place. Now, along with a wholesome natural experience, the mother-daughter duo also specialises in offering authentic, age-old village recipes. Kasthuri says, "The knowledge that my mother holds is 90 years old. She has recipes from her mother, which she learned and mastered over the years. When people come to us, they truly enjoy the food."
But for them, the challenges continued even after learning about the industry and business. At 90 and 72, their job demanded a lot of physical work. They would have to cook three times a day and also look after and meet the guests. After one point, this physical work weighed heavy on Lakshmi's shoulders. So, now Kasthuri has stepped up to take on these responsibilities and has also become the head cook under her mother's guidance.
Upon asking Lakshmi what it has been like to work with her daughter, she says, "I am glad to have her by my side. I had three children, and two of them passed away. Kasthuri is the only one. So now that I get to spend time with her, it makes me very happy."
After more than a year of running a farm stay, Lakshmi and Kasthuri say they are pleased and satisfied with their lives. From being homemakers, this farm stay has allowed them to become independent. They can finally earn their own money and buy gifts for their kids and grandkids. Not only that, but this mother-daughter duo is proud to have helped generate employment near the village by hiring people for the farm stay.
According to Kiruba Shankar, many guests also come to meet his grandmother. He shared, "Several people enjoy coming with their families. They open up about their feelings with my mother and grandmother and have long discussions with them. It becomes a very homely experience for those who miss their grandparents."
To make their stay more calming and exclusive, Vaksana farm stays also offer farming activities, learning about the water irrigation system, and meeting farm animals. The place also has two large ponds where one can take a swim.