This woman entrepreneur is sparking conversations around wellness by promoting women’s hygiene
Sachee Malhotra does not have very fond memories of her school years. She was overweight, had excessive facial and body hair, and experienced painful periods (and later, painful sex) as a result of living with PCOS syndrome for the past 15 years.
“I guess that was not okay for a lot of people and so, I was bullied in school. I spent most of my time in high school sitting cross-armed, hiding the facial hair on my cheeks with my hands, and had to constantly avoid being bullied,” she tells HerStory.
Sachee is among 20 percent of Indian women (one in every five) living with the condition, and her story highlights that there is little sensitisation around such concerns.
Despite the physical and mental toll they can take, matters related to sexual health continue to be a taboo conversation. “There is a need to have an open and honest conversation around women and their bodies, how they feel, and the things they go through. Further, most sexual wellness products are made by brands run by men for men,” she adds.
So, with an initial investment of Rs 30 lakh, Sachee founded That Sassy Thing – a natural, female-focused sexual wellness platform.
Sachee Malhotra, Founder of That Sassy Thing
After two years of product formulation and sourcing manufacturers, Sachee officially launched the brand in December 2020. With a vision to build a quirky yet bold brand, That Sassy Thing is working to engage the community to initiate conversations around sexual hygiene.
Its three main products – a period cramp roll-on, pubic hair oil, and lubricant – are made by a contract manufacturer in Punjab. Priced between Rs 500 and Rs 1,200, they are available on Amazon, LBB, and other ecommerce marketplaces for sexual wellness and natural products, besides being sold through That Sassy Thing’s own platform.
Having shipped over 4,500 orders so far, Sachee says, “The market response has been overwhelmingly good. From a product standpoint, many women have actually come to thank me because they were able to explore their bodies.”
(Products by That Sassy Thing)
Beyond this, the Delhi-based startup emphasises the design aspects and producing quality content on its website as well as social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to grow a community.
“We make sure the posts are inclusive and represent all the real body types, and in turn, people from all walks of life feel safe and part of the brand,” she adds.
With the brand bootstrapped, the entrepreneur has recently started pitching for fund-raising to pump up product development and distribution.
From receiving a standing ovation in a room full of male investors to being told that her venture must be funded by a man rather than her hard-earned savings, Sachee says the fundraising experience has been unique, to say the least.
Sachee says launching the brand amid COVID-19 has been difficult. "There were challenges not just with logistics and operations but mentally as well because a lot of things in the world were uncertain. But I think it is a process and you learn along the journey,” she says.
However, the biggest challenge seems to be changing people’s mindset and breaking the social taboo surrounding sexual health by educating them. In fact, Sachee had to change manufacturers several times because most of them did not understand the idea behind designing intimate products for women.
While social media is a key to growing the brand’s community and educating people, its informatory posts have also been flagged for using words related to female pleasure.
“Culturally, we have not progressed much. We talk about equality in the boardroom, and I think it's time we take that discussion forward and talk about equality in the bedroom too, and help women own their sexuality. Change takes time and we are ready to invest that time because it is not something that happens overnight,” Sachee adds.
While driving the conversation around sex, period, and body hair, among others, Sachee hopes to diversify further in the feminine hygiene market and position That Sassy Thing as a new-age and natural body brand.