Women-driven natural cosmetics finds growing takers

July 25th, 2010 - 1:17 pm ICT by IANS  

By Azera Rahman
New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) Unlike most others, these beauty products hardly have any Bollywood actor’s endorsement. Yet a growing number of “conscious” and “mostly young” consumers are going for different brands of natural, handmade cosmetics created by women entrepreneurs.

Meet 31-year-old Natasha Shah for instance. A management graduate, Shah learnt all about the goodness of ayurveda, thanks to the family-owned Amar Remedies Limited which has been making ayurvedic personal care products for the last two decades.

It was only natural for her to follow suit and create a range of wellness products that are “chemical free and filled with the goodness of nature”.

An extensive seven years of research by experts in organic chemistry and cosmetology later was born Shah’s own brand of natural beauty products - The Nature’s Co. - in 2009.

“The market for natural cosmetics in India is increasing. It is the direct result of the changing socio-economic status of the Indian woman. Today’s consumer is more aware about the goodness of natural products vis-a-vis others,” Shah told IANS.

The Nature’s Co. offers a gamut of eco-friendly body, skin, hair care and wellness products ranging from body lotions, lip balms, shampoos, bath salts and massage oils to accessories such as oil burners, loofah and wooden combs.

“The quality of our products is our USP. We use ingredients that directly treat a given problem. For example, we know that garlic works best for acne. So we use crushed garlic and give it in a convenient jar which helps in directly attacking acne,” Shah added.

Some of the other ingredients used are marigold, sandalwood, turmeric, sage, thyme, fucus, marshmallow and berries.

Their Dehradun manufacturing plant is situated at the foothills of the Shivalik range and uses spring water for manufacturing purposes.

According to Shah, natural cosmetics account for 18 percent of the country’s multi-billion dollar cosmetics market. And it’s growing at the rate of 15-20 percent annually.

A large number of consumers are from the younger age bracket who are more aware and refuse to compromise their health under any circumstances.

Delhi-based Reshma Anand’s brand, Earthy Goods, has its own story. “Earthy Goods was a result of a road trip to some remote villages. As we travelled around, we met many small farm enterprises and artisans who made natural products with traditional methods but faced challenges to market their products on fair terms,” Anand said.

“We then set up Earthy Goods to bring this range of ethically-sourced, authentic, natural and handcrafted products made in villages around India to urban consumers,” Anand told IANS.

An Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B) graduate, Anand turned down a high- profile job to set up Earthy Goods in 2007.

The product range offers not just beauty products like essential oil, handmade soaps, beeswax lip balms and body butters but also organic cereals, homemade jams, honey and natural incense, among others.

Anand said: “We work with entrepreneurs and organisations that engage local farmers for sourcing of raw materials like herbs from the Kumaon hills, honey from the Himalayas, fruit-based products from Himachal’s orchards.”

An important feature to their work, in the case of The Nature’s Co. and Earthy Goods and most others, is that they mostly employ women.

Most of the handmade product brands swear against animal testing. Mumbai-based Sucheta Khandwala and Priti Mehta’s brand, Om Ved, is one of them.

“Our range of body massage oils, skin toners, soaps and others use ingredients like neem and almond oil and we have a team of ayurvedic doctors and cosmetic consultants advising us. We don’t use synthetic colours and are against animal testing,” Khandwala said.

The Nature’s Co. is even certified by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

As far as commercial viability goes, the women are so happy with the response that they are on an expansion mode - either by opening stand-alone stores in different metros or launching new range of products every season, made available in spas, medical stores and cosmetic shops in malls.

The price range varies, according to the product and the brand. However, a rough estimate can be between Rs.200 and Rs.2,000.

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at azera.p@ians.in)

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