1. Success Story

Kerala Woman Uses Coconut Shells to Make Beautiful Kitchenware Items; Runs Successful Business

Anju M U
Anju M U
coconut
Maria Kuriacose

For Keralites, Coconut tree is not just a plant but much more than that. The kalpa vriksha has significant influence in their routines to arts, culture and social life. Coconut, its leaves, wood, flower, etc. are used for several purposes since ages.  

The fruit of the tree at its tender and mature stage has been used for food, coir, oil, scrubber and much more. Earlier, the shells of coconut was used to make ladles for serving food, but as artisans faded away, the usage of crafts in homes also reduced.  

Might be these artistic tools are 'out- dated' for many, but not for the Mumbai- based Malayalee Maria Kuriacose, where she created her success business tale by producing agricultural products from coconut shells.   

The Thrissur native always tried to pursue her childhood dream that was to start a unique business. While she wasn't aware of what it could be, Maria got fascinated towards coconut’s inner part and that made the difference. 

Crafted many varieties such as bowls, teacups, candles, cutlery, hanging planters from the leftover shells, her brainchild 'Thenga' now expanded its sales across various states of India and foreign as well. 

Way to the Dream 

Maria, completed her graduation in Economics from Mumbai and did MBA from Spain. She then worked in an MNC as a leadership consultant for few years and without giving a delay on her dream rising up, she quit the corporate job. 

When she came back to Kerala, she visited a coconut oil mill in Thrissur from where she got the hints for an innovative business. She noticed that though most of the parts of coconut can be utilised, its shells were being thrown out or used for charcoal. Yet, it also rushed to her mind that there was a time when several artisans in Kerala used the shells to make ladles. It ignited the passionate to commence a firm for coconut shell-based products and it ultimately resulted in the homegrown band 'Thenga'. 

Her retired mechanical engineer father Kuriakose Varoo also came in as an aid and developed a low-cost version of machine to scrub the outer and inner parts of the shell for smooth products. Her mother, Jolly Kuriakose, spent her efforts by collecting various sizes of coconut shells from their backyard and an oil mill nearby.

Maria, on these times tried to reach out customers who prefer the eco- friendly products like she does. In some time, her crafts were spread out to numerous buyers and she even sold her natural products to customers over e-commerce platforms and her social media pages.

She has introduced a number of varieties from coconut shells and its prices ranges from Rs.250 to Rs.950. Thenga also distributed more than 8,000 products in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. 

Later as her firm grew, Maria integrated 12 artisans into the manufacturing process in their first unit in Thrissur out of her 5 manufacturing units in the 'land of coconut'. 

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