This woman entrepreneur’s essential oil brand wants to spread awareness about ancient Ayurveda practices
Born and raised in a Gujarati business family, with her parents and sister as entrepreneurs, Khushali Vadhar knew she wanted to be one too.
Her family business, Shashi Industries, manufactures and exports incense sticks to more than 22 countries. Her sister owns her own sustainable architecture firm.
After completing her master’s in Enterprise from University of Leeds, UK, Khushali set up her essential oils brand, Divine Aroma, in October 2019.
She had already seen and researched the popularity of essential oils in the West and decided to give the Indian market a go, though she says the concept of essential oils is rooted in the country and in Ayurveda.
“India had already been using essential oils in Ayurveda for more than 6,000 years. Many were not aware of this,” says Khushali.
Looking at the multitude of benefits and origin of aromatherapy in India, and its increasing popularity, Khushali wanted to increase awareness on the applications of these oils, emphasising on its roots to traditional systems.
Research shows the numerous benefits of essential oils on mental health, to reduce stress and anxiety, and its efficacy in skincare and haircare routines.
“Studies show that diffusion of lavender essential oil helps reduce cortisol levels, associated with stress; diffusion of rosemary oil helps increase memory retention by 5-7 percent; use of lemongrass oil helps reduce dandruff usually in one week; use of bergamot, eucalyptus, geranium, and lemongrass show strong antiviral activities when diffused within 30 minutes and more,” she says.
It took Khushali eight months to establish the groundwork and start the bootstrapped brand. She spent time researching extensively, studied aromatherapy books, took classes online, and read numerous research papers to understand essential oils, applications, and everything associated with it. With enough understanding about the Indian market, she launched the products in India with affordability and quality at its core.
The essential oils
Khushali manufactures the essential oils in her parents’ manufacturing unit in Bengaluru to cut down on manufacturing costs. She works with certified aromatherapists for research and development.
Divine Aroma claims to offer 100 percent pure and natural single essential oils and 100 percent natural essential oils blends. Khushali says that oils are undiluted, chemical and synthetic-free, cruelty-free, and vegan. Apart from maintaining these standards, it carefully picks the botanical species, with focus on place of origin and collection methods.
“The essential oils are used for their therapeutic properties and characteristics, apart from their obvious aroma. The quality of oils is the measure of their therapeutic properties. This depends on a number of factors,” says Khushali.
The essential oils are priced between Rs 400-600. They are available on Divine Aroma’s own website and on ecommerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, QTrove, LBB, Vegan Dukan, and also in Organic World Stores and Purple Turtles in Bengaluru.
Khushali, an avid animal lover, has built an eco-conscious company, which uses recyclable packaging.
Since her childhood, Khushali has been feeding stray dogs in her neighbourhood. She currently feeds 18 dogs in her area every night. Her own pet Jack passed away last year. Her love for animals has seeped into her business as well. Ten percent of profit from the business is devoted to animal welfare. Along with her sister, she plans to open a sustainable animal shelter some day.
In the future, she also hopes to donate consistently to help save the melting of the ice caps that has led to loss of habitat for polar bears, walruses, and other arctic animals.
“I believe being an entrepreneur gives you power to do so much good in so many spheres of life. Whether it is for animals or employing people directly or indirectly and helping them and their families, or helping customers overcome their problems with the products or the environment,” says Khushali.
Learning from failure
Khushali reveals that her first business venture - Wolfcodes Pvt Ltd, a platform connecting buyers and sellers of software, was her learning experience. When it did not take off as expected, she started doubting her capabilities to start another.
“When things fail, you feel insecure and doubtful to start again - what if you fail again? But as all of us have heard from inspirational figures, the courage to start again and perseverance is the key - I couldn't agree more. Now, I understand the reasons why the first venture went wrong,” Khushali says.
She also adds that overcoming her own fears of what others will think brought her big deals. She says she made cold calls and did everything possible to get the word around, and managed to bag great deals.
“In business, I find, most of the time, one just has to go for it without thinking what the other person might think of you. Many times, this is when the great deals happen,” she adds.
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic
A relatively new venture, Divine Aroma was hit badly when coronavirus started to spread rapidly not just in India, but in Europe as well. Her plans to export to Europe in March and April were put on hold.
Production is also delayed due to supply chain disruptions. The disruptions, she says, have also led to the increase in prices of raw materials. Pitching in to provide essentials like hand sanitisers when the crisis hit, Divine Aroma launched a lavender-scented hand sanitiser.
Once the current crisis is over, Khushali plans to launch a new 100 percent natural series called Allure, an affordable range to cater to customers who would want to buy and experience the effects of essential oils.
She also hopes to collaborate with micro influencers to spread awareness about essential oils and increase the product range to diversify into home and personal care.
Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan