Meet Rajni Menon - Crafting her Own Success Story

VT: Tell us about yourself.
RM: I would describe myself as an artist who shows creativity in Fashion, Food and Mixed Media. I am originally from Kerala, India - famous for its backwaters, ayurvedic treatments and tropical greenery. I have always been fascinated by the variety of colors and design found in art, clothing and food. I am an artist who loves working with color. I bring in color not only in fashion, textile print designs and mixed media, but also in food and makeup as well.

VT: When we first met, you were re-entering the workforce after a career break. Where you are today?
RM: Currently I am the Head of Marketing at Masala Kraft Cafe. I handle all public relations related to the cafe and am in charge of the graphic design materials as well.  I touch a lot of areas in my role. I'm a natural communicator and very collaborative; I meet new entrepreneurs and I try to help them by organizing various events at the cafe. I have also introduced a new dish called the Kerala Thali which is an array of colorful,traditional Kerala dishes with coconut served along with rice. 

VT: How has your career evolved?  
RM: I have had a few career transitions in my life. I started out as an Electrical Engineer, and became a Textile designer after completing my Associate Textile Design degree from The Fashion Institute of Technology, NY. I designed my own
colorful line of women’s blouses and have extensive experience in designing, co-ordinating  manufacturers for production as well as marketing my clothing line. The culinary arts (food!) was always a passion for me as well.  So when I was offered this job at Masala Kraft, I did not hesitate.

VT: Can you share what kept you motivated?
RM: I am my own motivation. I believe that if you want something or you’d like to reach somewhere in life, you must work hard
for it. Others can motivate you by saying amazing quotes but if that’s not coupled with a strong urge within yourself, its quite difficult to reach where you want to be. I strongly believe in this. I know exactly what my passions are and I intend to use every single one of them in my own unique way in the future. Of course my two wonderful, amazing and very supportive
PARENTS have been and continue to be my motivation. 

VT: How did Vermilion help you?
RM: At Vermillion’s networking event, I met the co-founders, Anju Kurian and Anne Barbara Lemmens. When I heard them talking about what they were doing, I was blown away. They were answering the questions that I had in my mind regarding job opportunities.  At Vermillion, I had the opportunity to meet amazing women as well as learn tips and tricks on interviewing and many other topics. Most of all, they had a number of job related events to help me get ready. I learnt a lot from these events. 

VT: How did you find your job?
RM: I would say that my current job found me. Being a people friendly person, I got to chat with the Owner of Masala Kraft Cafe on several occasions. Everytime we met, we'd discuss everything about food until one day when she asked me to work with her. I started off with cooking classes and then later became the marketing head. Currently I handle all public relations, social
media, all marketing materials-print and website as well as event management for catering events. I still continue to do the cooking lessons once a month at the cafe.

VT: Did practicing your pitch really make a difference in landing your job?
RM: I did have my pitch ready to go if need be but I did not have to use it. I believe one should continue to follow one’s passion and the job comes to you. That’s exactly what happened to me. I’ve always had a love for cooking. It helped that I am a people person who genuinely cares about others which helped me get this job.

VT: What's your key piece of advice for others going through this process?
RM: You should be your own motivation. Always believe in yourself. You know who you are and don't let anything or anybody stop you from believing otherwise. Think deeply about what you’d love to do before you make a decision on the career transition. Be yourself and never change for others. Do what feels right. In the future, I have a few other plans that will utilize all my skills.  I have a few passions, not just one. Since we all have only one life to live, I believe that we should put our talents and skills into action. 

VT: What's next for you?
RM: I'm excited to announce that I will soon be venturing out on my own to create a Cooking Club featuring South Indian dishes and bringing Kerala flavors to international cuisine.  It's the next step for me to explore this on my own.  I plan to teach private Indian cooking classes by traveling to the clients home and preparing a full meal. Look for more details soon!

Meet Rajni at her upcoming Cooking Class event to raise funds for Kerala Flood Relief efforts (SEWA International).
November 11 at Williams-Sonoma in White Plains, NY. RSVP: