The word ‘experience’ has a very big space in the dictionary of Ms. Jayasudha Seenivasan, Executive Director of Aegam Decor Cafe and Aegam LLP. It features in several layers when we talk to her. But her venture, The Aegam Decor Cafe, is exactly experience personified. The quaint little cafe in the Guruswamy Nagar Main road in Gowriwakkam gives you a totally otherworldly feel when you walk into it.
“That is exactly what we had planned,” Jayasudha says. “We just wanted people to come in and relax and have a good experience with us. While they sip a coffee, they can also get some decor ideas or if they come in for some inspiration in interior designing, they can do it while sipping their pina colada.” The entire cafe is filled with furniture, upholstery, table lamps, lamp shades and whatever that needs to aesthetically take your house to next level. At first look, the cafe looks effortlessly casual. But Jayasudha tells us it has been in the plan and rumination for a long time.
“I really don’t want to bore you with the whole routine of “Engineering-Job-unsatisfied” story. But that is what happened. And after a while, when I decided to take up a course in interior design in the USA, I knew it was all me. Since very little, I was more into the design and couldn’t stand mediocrity.”
So did she just finish her degree and land up a cushy interior designer job?
“It was hardly that. I interned in an architecture company for one year with no pay, just to develop my portfolio. I worked almost all locations and almost all the times I was called for. But it helped me understand the business nuances which made Aegam LLP a success when we set it up in Chennai. I consulted for home and commercial spaces for interior design and soon I was able to make a name out for Aegam. If not for that experience, it would have taken a long time than it took me now.”
When she started off, Jayasudha worked from home and soon people wanted to have a look and feel of the furniture and design ideas she was proposing. Thus, Aegam Decor Cafe was born. The East Tambaram residents couldn’t have been happier. Apart from the amazing decor and lip-smacking menu Aegam Decor cafe is available for photo shoots, and regularly hosts musicians and bands for live music.
“Why should people travel all the way to Alwarpet and Mylapore for the fun?” Jayasudha smiles. “And the talent in Chennai is amazing and people have encouraged us so far.”
How did the conservative Chennai accept the idea of a Decor Cafe?
“It is all about the experience,” Jayasudha says. “We train our staff and reiterate about customer interaction on daily basis. We take it up as our responsibility to explain everything they are curious about, be it the food or the decor items. And I am always around to have a little chat about the food or their dream home. We make it a point to convert every person who steps into our cafe to a regular customer. And so far it has worked. And we intend to up our game in giving a great experience.”
Jayasudha’s husband Kirthi and her daughter Athira can be seen in the cafe most of the time. It could be hard enough to be a working mom; how it feels for a mompreneur, we ask. “Both Aegam and Athira were my choices and I make sure that I take care of them both. To me family is everything. As a mother, I chose to be available for my daughter whenever she needs me irrespective of the business situations and I have made peace with it. Since I love both Aegam and Athira equally, I haven’t ever had the feeling of falling short in giving care. I do what I do with all my heart.”
Aegam enjoys enviable customer loyalty. The customers bring in goodies, sometimes paintings as a gift to their beloved cafe. And Aegam pays back in kind. They have the best decor items handpicked personally by Jayasudha from all around the world and when one piece is out of stock, they don’t restock it. “We want our customers to be as unique as us. We are partners in this.” She says.
A lot of people want to live such a dream. A handful of people would have had the same idea. How is it to live in such a dream, we ask.
This idea was brewing in our minds for more than five years. We had established a process, waited till we crossed-off every sub-goal we had written down and here we are. While we have the heart of artists, we also had to develop the mind of businessmen to make this a sustainable venture. If anybody wants to see their dream come true, I would say that they have to invest their time in learning the business part of it and practice the learned skills to become financially independent and then go for it. Take it from me, success tastes far sweeter that way.”
It is almost one year since its inception, what is the takeaway? “We have smaller goals. We open the doors of our cafe with hope and close the business with satisfaction and smile on face at the end of the day. And trust me, that is just enough.” Jayasudha signs off