Meet Komala Devi, a 62-year-old go-getter who is living her entrepreneurial dream
It’s never too late to chase a dream. We hear that time and again, but not often do we come across folks who truly personify this thought!
At 62, Hyderabad’s Komala Devi is a hustler though. As founder of haircare brand Venica Herbals, Komala can these days be found addressing the needs and concerns of her clients, or taking a question or two from journalists about what possibly prompted her to start a D2C brand so late in life.
“Many others would also ask the same question, ‘Why would you run a business now and for whom?’ But this one's for myself. This is my dream," Komala says over a phone call.
To be precise, Komala was 56 when she founded Venica Herbals, an Ayurvedic brand that offers organic and preservative-free hair care products licensed by the AYUSH Department, Telangana Government.
Age not a bar
Daughter of an income tax officer, Komala got married to a doctor in 1987 and moved to Iran with her husband. During the course of her six-year stay in Iran, she undertook many beauty treatment courses out of interest before returning to India for her children’s education.
However, life took a sharp turn when her husband passed away in a car accident. To fend for herself and the children, she began anchoring and dubbing at Doordarshan channel, and went on to act in a few telefilms, feature films, stage plays and several documentaries till 1990.
In 1991, she met a Persian cosmetologist in Hyderabad from whom she learnt advanced courses in electrolysis, obesity treatments, advanced hair and skin therapy.
Confident enough to experiment with her own outlet, she launched Khubsoorat Obesity Electrolysis Beauty Clinic and opened another branch in 1997.
When both of her sons settled down in comfortable corporate jobs, she made several visits to her elder son in Canada, and once again trained in various skills along with Ayurveda. Her formulas and solutions were well-loved by her clients but taking Landmark Forum’s personal development course inspired her to start a business.
Now remarried to an ex-army officer, Komala also practices meditation and journaling to grieve her late husband. When her beauty clinic clients shared personal stories of love and marriage troubles, those too found a way into her journals.
In 2015, when Komala decided to start Venica Herbals, she was determined to employ as many women as possible to help them become independent.
The Venica Herbals journey
Products by Venica Herbals
With an initial investment of Rs 1 lakh, Komala developed and marketed about 11 different Ayurvedic products and invested a further Rs 15 lakh in the business.
Today, as a D2C brand, Venica Herbals has a range of FSSAI certified products like hair oil, hair pack, henna, pure shikakai, pure reetha, hair shampoo, face wash, face pack, among others through its website and platforms like Amazon.
With annual sales worth Rs 15 lakh at present, Komala has borrowed a working capital loan of nearly Rs 7 lakh from the bank, and now employs about 10 to 12 people.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic was a tough period, best-selling products like organic turmeric for improving immunity helped the business stay afloat.
By expanding the sales channel and listing on more marketplaces, the enterprising lady expects an annual turnover of Rs 50 lakh in FY 22-23. Komala hopes to carry the manufacturing process outside her home and expand but says access to capital is a huge challenge.
She was supported by Her&Now, a Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) initiative to empower women entrepreneurs on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development(BMZ), and in partnership with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Government of India.
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