Entrepreneur Nivruti Reddy speaks about her journey, golden rules of hospitality, and lessons she picked up mother Nina Reddy
BORN INTO ONE of the most prominent families in Chennai, Nivruti Reddy says business was all she knew while growing up. However, for her, choosing a career in hospitality was not about joining the family enterprise. “Working in this industry is not about making a product, but creating an experience around it. Unless you are passionate about it, you cannot make it big,” says the 35-year-old managing director of The Brew Room, the garden restaurant and coffee house at The Savera Hotel.
“I have always been fascinated by the food and beverage industry. Taking up the family business happened only because I showed an interest in it. My parents never told me or my sister (Ritika Reddy) what to study or which career to choose. My initiation into the field was of course, with a firm hand-holding by both my parents (Nina Reddy and Vijayakumar Reddy). At the same time, they also gave me the freedom to explore,” adds the management graduate from the University of Warwick, who as it turns out, was also a state-level swimmer and a trained ballet dancer.
Having taken her baby steps in the industry with a brief stint with Savera’s sister company Shyam Group of Restaurants in 2008, Nivruti’s first-ever project was Baker’s Code, a neighbourhood bakery that specialises in fresh bread, cakes and cookies. She recalls, “Baker’s Code was my first solo project and it involved coming up with a concept, setting up the space and curating the menu. The Brew Room, however, is my first independent project. Here, I got to try a lot of new things with respect to the menu, customer experience and marketing.”
Opened in 2014, The Brew Room is one of the first cafés in the city to introduce different types of brewing methods, including Japanese, Turkish and Italian. With Auroville-based coffee consultant Marc, they also introduced the concept of an interactive coffee bar where the beans are ground and the coffee brewed fresh in front of every customer.
“To work in this field, you have to be really passionate about food and service. The hospitality industry may look all glamorous on the outside but it involves very long hours and prioritising work over many things including family and other social commitments. However, the positive feedback from our customers make it all worth it!” adds Nivruti, who did her post-graduation in Hospitality Management from Cornell University in New York.
Mother knows best!
Being the daughter of Nina Reddy, joint MD at the 50-year-old Savera, we ask her what she has learned from her mother and her list goes on. “My mother’s greatest ability is to turn most of the things she’s passionate about into successful businesses like fitness and people management. She is a people’s person. Her interpersonal skills, positivity and perseverance shine through anything she does.”
“She pioneered a health studio called O2, and it stands as proof of her dynamism and enterprising qualities. Today, there are nine gyms under the brand. Like that, she keeps reinventing herself. She believes that growth is the only way to sustain and is constantly striving to bring out the best in all the teams she works with — whether it’s at Savera or O2,” she adds.
Talking further about working with her mother, she says, “We are constantly bouncing ideas off each other. We value each other’s opinions a lot. From something as simple as introducing a new product to something as big as creating a new restaurant brand, every idea is discussed among us. She encourages me to dream and also gives me the courage to make decisions.”
Art of service
Having successfully run her café for over six years now, Nivruti believes that there is a constant need to redefine, reinvent and upgrade in order to stay competitive in the field. “When customers walk out of the door, they should remember the amazing experience they have just had. It’s about creating those memories and crafting those unique experiences. As owners of the place, that is our objective,” she says, when asked about her success mantra.
However, according to Nivruti, changing customer trends, increased competition and high staff turnover are some of the challenges most restaurant businesses face. “At The Brew Room, we believe that listening to our customers, dealing with complaints swiftly and understanding customer needs have led to increased customer satisfaction. Not to mention staff loyalty, which has been the backbone of our success and is one of our biggest assets. Involving them in the decision-making process and clearly communicating to them are two things I constantly try to do. Regularly engaging with our guests and empowering our employees have helped me a great deal in this field,” she adds.
For her success, Nivruti cites family as one of the biggest reasons. Now a mother of two, she shares that her life has changed in a way that everything depends on how well you manage time. “As a mother of two young kids, I depend on my folks a lot. It does take a village to raise a child and I am fortunate to have my husband, mother, mother-in-law and many other family members help me so I can successfully
divide manage time between work and home.”
Sharing some tips for working mothers, she adds, “I manage by prioritising and delegating. I have a good support system in the form of family and employees. I prioritise as per the issue of the day and don’t sweat over the small stuff. I work by staying focussed on the task at hand and focussing on the long term vision of my business. I maintain a healthy work-life balance by keeping a really good team in place at work as well as at home. That helps a lot.”
Apart from her three dogs, Nivruti’s stressbusters include travelling, movies and working out. “Workout for me is mainly high-intensity interval training and yoga. I don’t like doing much of cardio. I mostly prefer group workouts.” As for her future plans, she adds, “Right now, my main focus is to expand The Brew Room brand through franchising. We have opened two outlets in Chennai, one in Delhi and Pune,
and are looking to expand into other cities as well.”
Woman of Substance
A hotelier, socialite, connoisseur of décor, fitness enthusiast — Nina Reddy is many things, but also a doting wife and mother. Married into the Savera family at the age of 19, she took over operations at The Savera Hotel in the early ’90s and has been managing it ever since. The Duchess Club and fitness studio O2 are some of her many successful ventures.
How do you look back on your journey so far?
My career was not planned at all. I stepped into our family business because I felt intuitive and thought that I would be able to help in some way. I was a young mother back then but with a good support system, the main pillar being my husband Vijay, my career took off. What started as a role with a few responsibilities quickly turned into one with a bigger purpose. I wanted to make a difference in our business. One that was significant and permanent.
What is your success mantra?
My people skills! Loads of patience, empathy and persistence backed by self-belief and confidence. My ability to make quick decisions has helped a lot. Also, I make sure I support my loyal employees who believe in my dreams and visions.
How did you support your daughters in their careers?
I’ve always believed in making people around me strong. So when it came to my daughters I did the same. I wanted them to grow up into capable, confident and strong yet kind, young women. I encouraged and stood by my girls when they wanted to pursue their diverse careers. My husband and
I brought them up, giving them freedom and responsibilities. And that paid off! Both my daughters are fine young women who can make any parent proud!
Do you and Nivruti approach work differently?
Nivruti’s uncompromising attitude and professional approach are very different from mine. I took a longer time to learn the ropes of the business. I did not learn my lessons from books but from my own experiences and also, failures. Whereas, she started her career on the right note. She is equipped with good education, is intelligent and very organised. She has a keen sense of business and updates her knowledge frequently. In many ways, she has taken after her father, especially her attention to numbers and straightforward approach to dealing with people.
How well do you know your mother?
Nivruti Reddy offers 10 quick takes about Nina Reddy.
• Favourite pastime — Working out and watching movies.
• Favourite music — ABBA! And anything she can dance to.
• Favourite food— Brown upma and homemade dal. She isn’t much of a foodie.
• Holiday destination —Any place with cultural significance. She recently went to Burma and loved it!
• Favourite thing in her wardrobe — Black pants.
• One thing she carries everywhere — Her make-up. She’s always on the move.
• One thing that annoys her — Procrastination.
• Favourite movie — Anbe Sivam.
• Favourite perfume — Nina Ricci.
• Best quality — Her perseverance. She loves a challenge!