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Zarine Manchanda

by CEO Time Magazine

As a young woman blessed with movie star beauty, Zarine Manchanda is probably not considered the prototypical CEO. Indeed, she is the rarest of the rare, with a personal USP that helps explain her meteoric rise in the past year to the top levels of Indian media, philanthropy, business, trade and commerce, politics and fashion. 

Zarine has become a media sensation by being profiled over 30 times in major publications the last 2 years, and she earned the rarest distinction of being covered by both leading business/political magazines such as Forbes, Fortune, Economic Times and India Today for her successes as an award-winning young woman CEO/philanthropist, and also glamour/lifestyle magazines such as Femina, Hello India, Robb Report and Vogue due to her beauty and fashionable style sense.

Consider this: Zarine’s unique and wide-ranging credentials include being a respected award-winning philanthropist and social activist as CEO of the Zarine Manchanda Foundation, a prolific Mumbai-based charity NGO that has administered 200 donation programs of food, clothing and other essentials to Mumbai’s poorest residents since its inception in 2019.

Due to her outstanding charity work and in recognition of her inspirations, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, Zarine has been labeled as “Princess of the Poor”, poised to be the “Mother of Millions” by the Times Group’s Femina magazine in their commemorative issue celebrating International Women’s Day in March 2021.

With all these successes showcasing a uniquely empowered woman and role model, Zarine has appeared on the cover of FEMINA magazine; was separately named one of the “Fabulous 50 Women” by Femina in 2020; was named one of India Today’s “45 Most Influential Indians” commemorating their 45th anniversary edition in 2020. She also appeared in Forbes magazine multiple times as a renowned game-changer and icon of inspiration.

Zarine received awards from Economic Times for her multiple business expansion and received an award from the Times of India as a Young Philanthropist in January 2021. In December 2021, Zarine Manchanda received the Nelson Mandela Peace Award which conferred a doctorate degree to Dr. Zarine Manchanda. Also in 2021, Zarine received two National Awards for her charity work, one of which was conferred by the Governor of Maharashtra.

Zarine is also is an award-winning entrepreneur who has successfully launched businesses in various sectors, most notably as the founder of Zarine Manchanda Café, India’s first 7-star café in Mumbai. Additionally, she has launched other businesses bearing her name in interior design, film production, as well as a 7-star premium security service company and 7-star cloud kitchen food delivery service, for which she has been felicitated as young entrepreneur in multiple business expansion.

These successes have broadened Zarine’s appeal into other sectors. In December 2021, she was named Regional Director in Mumbai for the BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry, which fulfills important economic and trade policy objectives for India through its alignment with BRICS country members (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa.

Zarine’s movie star beauty and glamourous aura have launched her as a model, brand ambassador and twice a showstopper at Mumbai’s most prestigious fashion galas, the Bombay Times Fashion Week. It’s no wonder that Zarine’s profile in India’s Robb Report – whose subscribers are the country’s most affluent jet setters – was titled “Seven Star Wonder”, labeling Zarine as India’s new brand ambassador for all things luxurious.

Zarine Manchanda’s background is as unique as she is. She was born and raised in a prominent political family near Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, the daughter of a Minister and successful businessman, near the home of the Dalai Lama. Following university, she Moved to Mumbai to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. Experiencing challenges breaking into the glamour industry; her struggle led Zarine to make a dramatic, life-changing career shift.

Wanting to build her own political base, Zarine established a charitable NGO, The Zarine Manchanda Foundation Aarey Colony, Mumbai, in 2019. In two years and in spite of COVID-related lockdowns, the Foundation administered approximately 200 food and clothing donation programs in Aarey Colony and Andheri, and is a top-rated, respected Foundation in Mumbai favoured by Mumbai’s Charity Commissioner’s Office. Zarine made another bold move, venturing into the hospitality industry by opening a luxurious Café in Mumbai, Zarine Manchanda Café.

ZMC offers gourmet and organic fare. The menu includes healthy sandwiches on freshly baked breads, nutritious salads, savoury pastas and Maggi-inspired noodles, flavourful Indian rolls, and other delicious dishes. We also offer a wide range of breakfast and snack items such as fresh croissants, pastries, muffins, and chocolate sweets. Plus, we feature a wide array of specialty teas and coffees, fruit or chocolate smoothies, and colourful tasty mocktails.

ZMC’s slogan is “Delicious, Luxurious, Spiritual Charm.” Says Zarine: “Our USP stands out in two important areas. We are a luxurious, 7-star café and all the décor, installations and accessories are of the highest quality. This includes all the crockery and cutlery. Zarine Manchanda Interiors designed the space and I specifically had the vision to be the Founder of the 7-star café experience in India.

How did Zarine end up being the Founder of India’s 7-star café experience? Zarine says, “I spent a lot of time in Delhi growing up due to my father’s work. I was always in awe at the luxuriousness of the 5-star hotels and the exclusive shopping enclaves that provided an ideal ambiance for its visitors. When I moved to Mumbai, I was surprised that such a sprawling and cosmopolitan city did not really have any luxury cafes cum coffee bar except for the 5-star hotels. So, I set out to make the first, and ZMC proudly is known even in prestigious media outlets as India’s first 7-star café.”

In addition to its sophisticated and elegant décor, the Café’s other USP is its “Spiritual Charm.” Zarine explains, “I also envisioned a space offering its patrons ‘Spiritual Charm’. ZMC has a beautiful collection of Tibetan Bells from Dharamsala on display, and each time my staff brings food or drink to a patron’s table, we ring a bell and provide a blessing. Our patrons love this experience!”

Were there challenges that Zarine experienced along the way? Indeed, there were. “Obviously, COVID and the various restrictions/lockdowns that have been consistently imposed the past 18 months has been the biggest challenge. We opened during COVID restrictions but I was determined to be the first 7-star café. Our patio is exactly at the bottom stairway to one of the Versova station metro stops but it has not been open one single day in the 18 months and we expected a huge “grab and go” business from metro riders. 

There were weeks when we were closed entirely, and months where we had to operate on limited hours and capacities. Our beautiful patio has been closed for months and it was very popular for the late night crowd which is the time period when we did our best business. Still, we have always had a loyal customer base from day one as I know Mumbaikars have a zest for life and still wanted a unique venue to enjoy whenever they were not house-bound.

ZMC was always able to attract customers from the beginning because of its USP of luxury and spiritual charm. Says Zarine: “I knew many film professionals and other producers and directors in Bollywood and they all love ZMC. I knew I would attract that A-list crowd. Even though I am proud to have a 7-star café,  I did not want to make the café only a haven for the rich and privileged. I wanted to make sure all Mumbaikars could enjoy the café. When I lowered prices on some fare months after opening, it seemed to do the trick, as it improved our customer count and sales.

What’s next for ZMC? Zarine is planning a larger flagship café in the Bandra area and is currently looking at possible locations. In addition, she explains that “we get calls and inquiries all the time about franchising ZMC in other Indian cities and even globally. We have a careful but ambitious expansion strategy in place and we will grow ZMC so that it is a premium brand all over India and the world.”

With these successes, and still committed to her dream of being an actress, Zarine opened a production house, Zarine Manchanda Productions that will soon start producing international crossover content through its association with Los Angeles-based Lotus Entertainment Group.

Zarine will feature as “Zara”, the lead in a film titled #Me Too Meets Aarey, directed by National Award-Winning director Arunaraje Patil, to be shot in 2023.  The film is in the supernatural horror genre and is set in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony – known as Mumbai’s most beautiful and pristine location but also its most haunted place. As the name suggests, the story ‘s centerpiece is an unfortunate “Me Too” incident; that leads Zarine’s character into a fascinating journey deep in the Aarey forest where spirits come alive.

And most recently, Zarine launched her Premium Security Agency and “Heavenly Flavours” Cloud Kitchen, bringing her six companies in her growing empire. Says Zarine: “The Security Agency and Cloud Kitchen work hand-in-hand. Large gatherings such as private parties, and film sets need security, and frequently the host also wants appealing food options. This means that many times we get double bookings for guards and bouncers, plus food delivery orders.” And f course, keeping with the Spiritual Charm USP, the cloud kitchen chefs ring Tibetan Bells to bless the food before it is delivered.

Zarine explains her unique and bold New Age vision this way: “Of course business success is about maximizing profit and minimizing loss. I will let the numbers will speak for themselves. My focus is to create a vision and a blueprint that always is about good karmas and good intentions, about doing God’s will here on earth I train my staff the same way, whether they are café employees or security staff or my chefs.

They are there to serve our clients and customers, to give them an enriching experience. When we keep this in mind, I believe success follows us because God notices all and he is proud when he sees compassion, benevolence – and I’m certain he smiles every time the Tibetan Bells are ringing!” And so it seems the Sky is the Limit for Zarine Manchanda and her New Age business USP of luxury and spiritual charm. Her successes in business and philanthropic charity work point the way toward a future that is sure to include politics.

Says Zarine: “I am blessed to have the DNA of my father, who was a dynamic and charismatic political figure in Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. As a child, I used to watch the long queue of constituents come to our home; my papa would greet them one by one, and I could see the positive effect this had upon the constituents he loved.

Zarine goes on to say, “My own political DNA will be different and unique to my own personality as a young woman, but of course it is guided and shaped by my father. I count this as another blessing I have experienced in my life to have such strong political DNA, and every time I count a blessing, it energizes me to give back, to serve others in the same manner as I witnessed again and again from my father. His inspiration is like the ringing of the Tibetan Bells for me every day.”

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