This Delhi-based startup supports reformed prisoners by showcasing their skills to the world
Everyone deserves a second chance. People have the ability to change, and if given a chance to reform themselves, most grab it with both hands. Many organisations around the world work towards reforming prisoners by helping them build a better life not just for themselves, but also for their families.
Founded by Vipin and Gautam Sawhney in 2018, Earth Inspired has partnered with NGO Antarkranti - Prisoner Reformation & Rehabilitation Program to help prisoners develop skills for livelihood while they are in prison. The brand manufactures incense sticks, aroma oils, and skin and hair products using natural ingredients with an aim to promote safe and sustainable development.
The inception of the brand
Antarkranti is an NGO that works in the prisoner reformation sector and helps prisoners develop skills for livelihood. Both Vipin and Gautam have had the experience of working with Antarkranti for about two decades before they planned to launch the startup. Starting off with the Tihar Jail in New Delhi, the NGO now works across 41 prisons in the country. “While some of these prisoners join Earth Inspired upon getting released, others create their own ways of livelihood. That is how this model supports them and their families and helps them integrate with the mainstream society which is otherwise usually associated with stigma,” says Vipin.
Narrating the story behind the startup, Vipin says that the idea had been in place for a long time. Having partnered with Antarkranti, they realised the huge market and demand for natural and organic products.
“Antarkranti used to sell their products through exhibitions and corporate stalls, and we realised that we could help them market their products which are made of pure herbal ingredients, with world-class packaging,” he adds.
Growth and challenges
On a mission to ensure a healthier lifestyle, Earth Inspired has re-introduced ancient Vedic formulations in its products to promote the hidden treasures of nature.
Vipin says that they started marketing their products after Holi in 2019 with herbal gulal. “That was the time when our product was introduced to the world, and it was taken well by the consumers. Since then, we have been growing at about 100 percent a year, and today we realise that we have a lot more potential to grow than that,” he says.
The founder further adds that their use of only paper-based packaging conveys the message that they are eco-friendly.
The startup faced a major roadblock when lockdowns were imposed as they had to deal with an inventory that kept piling up. “We have to deal with certain operational challenges since we are a bootstrapped company. We have been paying our employees with our funds during the pandemic even though we were completely shut down,” shares Vipin.
Indian by heart
Vipin says that when they named the company, they wanted to convey that they stood for everything earthy and pure. The .in domain worked because they wanted to drive the message that they are a completely homegrown brand.
“The .in domain also helps us connect with our Indian consumers better because of the personalisation and connection with customers. When they look at .in, they feel that the business is local and trustworthy,” says Vipin.
With Indians looking for more homegrown options to choose from, the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) is helping such brands grow their businesses by giving them a chance to utilise the benefits of the .in domain. Available in 22 Indian languages, the .in and .Bharat domains instill trust in consumers, thus helping budding entrepreneurs grow their businesses in the country exponentially.
Looking forward, Vipin says that they are looking to start their own brand called Sacred Life, and adds that they want to showcase their products globally. “We were very intentional in naming our company Earth Inspired Communities because we don’t just want to support prisoners, but also tribal and destitute women and children who can showcase their skills to the world through our platform,” he says.
He adds that they want to handhold them through product development and packaging design, and uplift them to compete with international brands. “We are also in the process of partnering with the government in the ‘One district, one product’ initiative, which will help us further our initiative. We are also planning to feature multiple brands on our websites, ones that don’t have the means to market their products,” concludes Vipin.
The ‘Shaping India Inc's Online Growth’ series chronicles the journeys of startups and SMEs in India and how creating an online presence on the .in or .Bharat domain powered their success stories.