She crunched numbers and decibels before trekking the entrepreneurial world. This is Jessica Jayne’s #PassionToPaycheck story.
“I’ve followed every single interest I have ever had and attempted to turn it into the work I do,” says Jessica Jayne. At 21, she launched a magazine, and then went on to set up Sharkfin Merchandising, a company dedicated to providing merchandising solutions to multinationals and media houses. After running that for over 15 years, she started Shiny Happy, a novelty clothing brand with a typically Indian creative take on familial love. But that wasn’t enough and she continued her entrepreneurial journey along with friend Udit Sheth, and founded Pahadi Local, a holistic organic brand offering luxury skincare products from local, natural ingredients from Himachal Pradesh.
Born and raised in Mumbai, Jessica moved to the mountains some years ago. “I travelled to the hills for love, and instead fell in love with all the pure, local goodness that people used in their homes, on their skin and in their food. The stories of the sources mesmerised me. A big city girl who used only big brands, was now introduced to the luxury in simplicity -- the greatest luxury of all in my opinion,” Jessica recalls.
This laid the foundation for Pahadi Local, a skincare and wellness brand. In Jessica’s words, “It all began with my encounter with gutti ka tel (apricot kernel oil). My skin began to peel in the harsh winters there, but everyone else was walking around with rosy cheeks. When I asked around, the unanimous answer was, ‘Gutti ka tel.’ So, I also used this interesting-sounding oil, and within days my skin was soft, healthy, and better than ever before.”
A thrilled Jessica shared this discovery with friends and family back home in Mumbai. “They too loved it. So every trip I made to the mountains, I was carrying back more and more bottles of gutti ka tel!” The entrepreneur in her realised the potential of the product and so she started selling the oil from home. It was a natural progression when she finally launched Pahadi Local in September 2016.
Pahadi Local is for people who make the choice to read the back of the bottle and care about what they put on their skin or what they eat. The products, which include the famous gutti ka tel and pull (lake sediment used as a detoxification salt) among others, are packed with goodness that infuses the very philosophy driving the brand.
Jessica says, “We identify and source pure, natural, local skincare and wellness products native to the mountains - our magnificent Himalayas. We are committed to empowering the local communities and regions of source. In this way, we’re tracing our path towards fair trade and sustainable luxury.”
Jessica then moved on to partner with her old friend, Udit Sheth, founder and Managing Director at TransStadia. “Another partner who validated our brand and supported us is Mrs. Lal, founder of Good Earth. In year two of retailing, we partnered with Good Earth stores across India, with aligned philosophies of sustainable luxury and fair trade.”
Making the conscious decision to stick with what nature has to offer, Pahadi Local today caters to anyone who appreciates purity. The brand’s marketing strategy is strongly broken into three segments - a shop-in-shop model, online retail, and experiential retail. This is to ensure that it has a strong reach throughout India and repeat sales as well.
In advocating luxury in simplicity, Pahadi Local’s journey has been an uphill climb, with its biggest challenge being educating
customers. Jessica explains, “Since our offerings are mostly unknown and it is a source-to-product philosophy, we have to make efforts to explain the usage, utility and purity. Another challenge is logistics, given that our products are sourced from across the hills. We routinely hit roadblocks like landslides and snowfall. But today, our main challenges have evolved to those relating to business strategy and scalability.”
A self-confessed workaholic (“There is just so much to do!”), Jessica is seeing “a big shift” towards healthy and conscious living, which gives impetus to wellness offerings. “There is always scope for improvement in any market and while we are all learning, our goal is to improve.”
The good news is that the company has been growing organically since its inception, though it is looking for fresh equity to speed up its growth process. At the moment though, Jessica is just looking to increase the product portfolio. She is also looking at the international market and hopes to introduce the brand overseas sometime soon.