By Natali Varney-Shutte
Photographer and Storyteller
Janap Chowglay’s carefully made-up face, framed perfectly by her lavender scarf, greets me with a warm smile that stretches to her mahogany eyes. She is in stark contrast to the wary glances and high walls that set the scene for our meeting. A self-made entrepreneur, she is the hands and heart behind Lavender in Lavender Hill’s herb-infused biscuits.
The eldest of 6 children, Janap grew up in Parkwood, Cape Town and fondly remembers running along gravel roads and picking seevygies. But that was a long time ago.
Her father’s fatal heart attack had Janap’s carefree days abruptly come to an end, and at 16 she left school to help make ends meet. She worked hard, but her diligence and can-do attitude were rewarded when she and her colleagues won a week in Mauritius, one of the highlights of her life!
Unfortunately, after a few more years in office work, retrenchment left Janap having to reinvent herself. She became a Teacher’s Assistant at a local school and started baking to supplement her income. By chance the principal mentioned her to the owner of Lavender in Lavender Hill, and what began as a 20-biscuit test run culminated in an output of 6500 lavender biscuits for a Women’s Day event, all baked in the single oven of her pocket-sized kitchen in Lavender Hill! No-one has been more surprised by this than Janap: “I never took notice of that lavender plant…I was an office girl who had been to Mauritius; I never thought I’d be baking biscuits for a living!”
Eking out an existence in an area rife with violence, Janap believes women are resilient and a key ingredient in survival. She quotes William Golding whom she knows by heart: “Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater…She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her.”
With a sparkle in her eye she reminds me that everything starts with a dream – she’s holding out for a double oven and a small coffee shop of her own.
To taste the love behind our biscuits you can order a batch by emailing email@example.com
Pack of 5 biscuits - R20
Pack of 10 biscuits - R40
Minimum order of 50 biscuits
We also provide biscuits for corporate gifting / wholesale / custom packs - enquire for pricing