Just Herbs: Dr. Neena Chopra’s entrepreneurial endeavor with organic Ayurvedic beauty and spa products
In the beauty business, the world seems to be taking a step back to move ahead. In this shift from chemical products to natural and organic, the customer is sometimes faced with the dilemma of choosing between effectiveness and safety. While organic products are safer to use, they may take longer to 'tackle the problem'.
In an age where people are fast losing their battle with patience, how does the organic world manage to tick? In conversation with the founder of Just Herbs, Dr. Neena Chopra and their brand director, Megha Sabhlok to understand how the business works.
The business of beauty
Dr. Chopra’s observation of the growing market sets the perfect tone to our conversation, “even consumers in their 30s are opting for anti aging”, she says.
Just Herb's journey began in 2000, when Dr. Chopra, a former banker and a certified naturopathy professional and a biochemist decided to pursue the cause of promoting beauty and personal care through plants and their therapeutic benefits. In 2002, after satisfactory research, development and testing, she founded APCOS Naturals, a certified Ayurvedic company by Ayush - the department of Ayurveda in the Indian Ministry of Health. Just Herbs was launched as a brand in 2010.
Megha Sabhlok, a marketing professional with an MBA from Lancaster Business School, UK, joined the business in 2010, after she chanced upon the products when someone gifted it to her. Speaking of her foray into Just Herbs, Megha says, “ When I used the products and saw the result, I knew this was a winner. At the time, the packaging was not right, so I came on board to look after those operations”.
The products are currently retailed in leading spas across cities like Mysore, Bangalore, Delhi, Chandigarh, at lifestyle stores in India and Singapore and through online stores.
Just Herbs is targeting the fast expanding consumer base who are concerned about common skin problems and conscious of what goes into their beauty products. Dr. Chopra says, their research which preluded the launch of the brand is what sets them apart. "We are guided by the belief that choosing between a product that's good for your skin and one which is safe for your health and for the earth is a choice you should never have to make", she says.
On retail opportunities, Megha elaborates, “there are spas opening every day in tier 2 and 3 cities, and around 8-10 beauty websites have been launched in the last year in India. We want to capture the opportunity this presents”.
According to the team, Just Herbs has been growing at the rate of 30% every quarter in the last couple of years, and pursuant to ramping up of their retail network, they are looking to double this growth rate by end 2013. They add that a bulk of sales comes through online retail.
The biggest challenge of the business, according to Dr Chopra, is sourcing the right ingredients and ensuring it meets the quality standard. To counter this, Just Herbs is also contemplating growing their own herbs in small farms in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Currently, the ingredients are sourced from organic farmers and suppliers of organic herbs from all over the country and the products are being manufactured in Chandigarh.
Megha adds that the marketing overhaul of the products, is the other problem area they are focussing on and while she is working with social media, magazines and events on marketing, she believes word of mouth is the best form of advertisement for their business.
As a parting note, we ask them what is their take on being a woman entrepreneur? The duo end the conversation on this high note, "This is the right business to be in for women. No one understands the needs better!" Just Herbs also endeavours to employ more women in their business and empower them.
Company Website: Just Herbs