Natural. Vegan. Handmade. Three words that sum up Shreya Sharan’s Burst of Happyness.
27 year old Shreya had an uphill struggle with health problems, allergy and skin issues and in order to detox started experimenting with her own bath and body products and moving towards a healthier lifestyle and eating habits. She happened to share her products on social media, and the enquiries that she was flooded with got her thinking of the genuine need in the market for natural skincare products.
That’s when I quit my job, rolled up my sleeves and learnt all about soap making, skincare formulations and the cosmetic industry in India.
In 2010 with relentless research and experimentation she began teaching herself everything about making skin care products. What started with tinkering and experimenting around at home, took the shape of Burst of Happyness in 2012.
With the production unit based out of Bhiwadi, the entire range of products is vegan and free of preservatives and can be customized.
Her product line, she says, “Grew in stages depending upon customer’s demand. I do a poll periodically to judge what type of products they are interested in and work on developing those.”
Introducing a new product takes months of work according to her and starts with a need that customers voice. This then translates into various product options. Then begins the extensive research of ingredients, which will suit the purpose. Shreya says, “It includes the study of properties and benefits of oils, botanicals and essential oils. All the ingredients are chosen so that they complement each other and increase the efficacy of the product. We create multiple formulations for all products, which are tested during different seasons. As we don’t use any chemical emulsifiers, the products tend to behave differently with seasons. These formulations are shared with willing volunteers, family and friends for their feedback and we refine our product based on that.”
She also derives inspiration from old ‘nani ke nuske’ and ayurvedic remedies.
Her favorite natural ingredient she says,
Are essential oils – I love blending them to concoct new scents! But when used in a skin care product, they need to be studied in detail to ensure that they work in sync with the purpose of the product. I have always been allergic to artificial fragrance like room fresheners, perfumes and deodorants so essential oils are my ‘go to’ for everything.
Her core team comprises of herself and three other members. “Friends and family drop in and help out at different stages when the work load gets heavy to help out in cutting soap, packaging and labeling and fulfilling orders.” Initially, she used to manage the tech side of things as well, but not anymore. “I have a great support system from my website provider and a few techie friends are always there to help,” she says.
Her entrepreneurial journey has not been without challenges. Shreya’s venture has been bootstrapped and early on she was doing everything on her own. With things growing, her learning was that, “It is essential to find the people to outsource your work to.”
She also faced a lot of difficulty in getting the correct and appropriate information regarding the necessary legalities. “It took a lot of research, talking to other experienced people and officials to get on the right
track,” she says.As an army kid and wife, Shreya has always been on the move. She has lived in small cities and cantonments all across the country but calls Pune her home. She did her BA in Economics from Fergusson College Pune and her PGDM in Advertising and Marketing from Xavier Institute of Communication, Mumbai and then a MBA in Marketing from Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies, Pune.
In between, she worked in the advertising sector and did some event management too. While she was pursuing her MBA she got married to her sweetheart, refused a great corporate job offer and wanting to be with her husband, travelled with him to a small town in Punjab.
She says, “I am a gypsy at heart and I am hitting new places every few months. Travel exhilarates me and I love discovering new places with my husband.”
She is currently a mentee in the Cherie Blair Women Mentoring Program (an international program for women with small businesses) and in an effort to increase the social impact of her work, she employs unschooled women from lower income groups.
So even though they were very quick to learn the techniques, they were unable to follow our SOPs for production, read product labels or maintain records as it was all in English. I allowed them to devise their own technique and created systems, which are convenient for them, so now we use Hindi for all our internal paperwork and all raw materials are labeled accordingly. I am also teaching them basic computer skills. I realize that given the freedom to ideate, people comes up with extremely creative problem solving skills.
Her customers are mostly working women in the age group of 25 to 35, single, about to be married, newly married or new mothers and to her they have become more than just customers.
Shreya’s motto has been – be simple and true- so when customers write to her telling her how her products have helped them or their family members immensely, it makes her happy and that is all the motivation she needs to keep going.
She will be launching baby products very soon and she plans to set up a workshop in Pune to expand her scale of production. “We are also in talks with some eco-resorts to provide the guest our products. We are on a roll!” she says with a confident smile.