Set up in 2016, Tanushree Ishani Das and Pooja Karegoudar’s beauty and wellness brand Body Cafe offers bespoke and organic skin, baby, pet, and home products.
What happens when two friends want to be best friends forever with an organic lifestyle? They decide to set up their own beauty and wellness brand.
Tanushree Ishani Das, 28, and Pooja Karegoudar, 30, friends for a couple of years, decided to found Body Cafe in 2016 to make healthy lifestyle products affordable to all. The beauty and wellness brand claims to produce 100 percent natural and organic products, ranging from skincare to homecare.
Tanushree and Pooja took inspiration from ancient home remedies (gharelu nuskhe), the goodness of nature (prakriti), and Ayurveda to start Body Cafe. Apart from creams, soaps, hand and foot creams, body butter, intimate care, and a men’s range, Body Café also offers home products such as floor cleaners, dishwashers, toilet seat sprays and pet care.
From a wedding to a company
Hailing from Assam, Tanushree says her tryst with entrepreneurship began by leading the internship wing at Bangalore Entrepreneurship Cell Initium, Mount Carmel College, where she pursued a bachelor’s course in psychology, economics, and sociology.
“I later headed to London to pursue my MSc in organisational psychiatry and psychology from King's College. The turning point came when I was appointed as the country head HR for Lookup, a chat application for local commerce. At that point, I realised the entrepreneurship bug had bitten me, but I had just returned from London so was busy learning the Indian market and work scene. I also spoke at the Telangana e-Summit on the importance of choosing the entrepreneurship path. I am an author as well.”
Pooja, who belongs to Hubli, Karnataka, moved Bengaluru to pursue a career in engineering.
She says, “After moving to Bengaluru, I realised there’s so much more to life. I realised this is a city of many opportunities and saw myself honing my personal as well as professional skills here.”
Pooja soon turned into a serial entrepreneur; before Body café, she founded event management company Circle the Date and a gourmet bakery Ovenly.in.
Tanushree speaks up: “Pooja also happened to be my wedding planner with her event management company Circle the Date.”
After the wedding in 2016, Tanushree’s mother was still interacting with Pooja for pending payments, even as Tanushree was preparing to relocate to Hyderabad.
Tanushree says, “We decided to meet for lunch and started talking about our future plans. We learnt that both of us had a common interest in creating an organic range someday. So we both started studying and researching this field; things just started rolling and today we are almost a year old.”
Pure and authentic
Pooja says they knew many organic brands were already existing in the market, but what sets them apart that they’re the only brand that caters to the entire gamut – from skin and baby to pet and home.
She adds that both of them were sure that they did not want their parents to finance or hand-hold them. “We started BodyCafe with our own savings and climbed every step on our own strength. Whatever little we have achieved, it is on our own merit,” she says.
Painstaking research, high standards of purity, authenticity, quality, and ethical sourcing of organic ingredients go into the making of all Body café products. All products are handcrafted. Tanushree explains why: “Our users need to feel as though they are in nature’s lap.”
The founders claim that all Body Cafe products are 100 percent natural and organic, free from parabens, synthetic fragrances, artificial colours, mineral oils and paraffin, and are “made from handpicked ingredients”.
Tanushree says, “We adhere to environmentally friendly manufacturing practices and our brand is absolutely against animal testing. We travel to remote, undiscovered places in and around India in search of ingredients. We frequently procure materials from Kerala, Coorg, and Assam. We source chocolate essential oils from Belgium, shea from Africa region, clay from a remote village in France.”
“We have not opted for paid advertising or resort to desperate measures to glorify ourselves on social media. Just like our brand, our growth is also organic. That is more fun and, needless to say, sustainable,” Pooja adds.
The duo says their combinations are unique when it comes to product ingredients - rose and goat milk soap, green tea and goat milk soap, basil body butter, star anise soap.
“This experimental streak is what makes our products popular. But it isn’t easy. There is a lot of brainstorming that goes into this. Our soaps are also unique when it comes to designs - again something which our competitors don’t do,” Tanushree points out.
The themed products in the body care range are also a huge hit. For a month, Body Café paid homage to Indian spices and introduced products such as star anise cinnamon soap and peppermint patchouli soap. Next month, they plan to launch a foot and hand spa range based on cocktail flavours.
The duo has been very particular about the brand image, and quite cautious about scaling up.
“We knew the people who joined us would be the culture-bearers of the brand. For us, this is a passion and we need people who share a similar vision and are high on ethics,” Pooja says.
Stating that their range of products gives them an edge, Tanushree and Pooja maintained that they’re not threatened at all by the other organic companies out there.
Tanushree says, “We handcraft our products so our users do not have to compromise on quality. Also, we offer users the option of customisation – this is another plus for us.”
Pooja adds, “People need not wait for their salary to get credited to buy our products. From a working professional to someone living on a pension, everyone can afford our products.”
Body Cafe products are priced between Rs 100 and Rs 550 and can be delivered across India. The product range can be seen on their Facebook and Instagram pages.
“There are some organic brands that price their products at ridiculous rates, but we live in an era where clients are intelligent enough. We also customise products based on skin type and preference and provide our users with bespoke products. This gives our users the option to not just enjoy our products but also have them made as per their choice and preference,” Pooja adds.
Tanushree and Pooja are soon planning to introduce a luxury range, which will be priced slightly higher but “will still be affordable”.
With the motto “quality over quantity”, the Body Cafe clientele is niche: it has a 100 clients. However, they are humbled to see the clientele growing and are planning to tie up with retail distributors across India. Body Café, which is already associated with a few spas and salons, aims to get a few partnerships with hotel chains in place in this year.