For four years, 25-year-old Pooja Chadha worked from 9 am to 9 pm as a marketing professional. In the process, this former national badminton champion found that her passion for sports took a backseat. She saw plenty of people facing the same predicament around her. This gave her the inspiration to start Extra Mile Café, a venue where people can explore their passions and interact with like-minded people.
“For a year we were a Facebook group that organised hobby and wellness workshops on yoga, Zumba, self-defence, creative writing, photography and styling conducted by experts for corporates, college students and the general public at various offices and eateries across the city. We got a great response as people rarely get a chance to pursue what they love,” says Chadha.
Miles to go
On July 7 this year, Chadha set up the first venue for Extra Mile Café at Khar. “Our target audience varies from a 22-year-old to a 60-year-old. We have a range of free workshops on Mondays and paid workshops for other days. Often, the free workshops are a trial ground and based on positive response we organise paid workshops by the same experts,” explains Chadha.
The sessions are encouraging for participants as they get feedback from experts, an opportunity to work with them on the field and at times, free goodies in the bargain. Plus, the focus is on helping you network so that you don’t just hone your skills but are also able to establish yourself in that field. “The name Extra Mile emerged when we looked for factors that differentiate us from other workshops. We offer opportunities to network with renowned professionals and find paid assignments. We consider ourselves as helping individuals go the extra mile in pursuing their passion and making it their new profession,” observes Chadha.
The Extra Mile team currently includes two full-time members as well as three volunteers. Their paid sessions are usually 3.5 hours long while the free sessions are 1.5 hour long. Each session has a maximum of 20 people.
Their workshop line-up includes poker, working from home, chocolate making, script writing, body language, image consulting and accessorising workshops. There are also plans afoot to unveil a movie and a book club soon. “While we are not a café in the strict sense of the term we do serve refreshments for the participants,” laughs Chadha. After setting up the Mumbai outlet, Chadha has plans to set up another outlet in Pune.
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