Modernising Ayurveda: This woman entrepreneur is bringing holistic wellness to the doorstep
After a brief stint in microfinance, Bareilly-born Akshi Khandelwal decided to dedicate her life to the performance arts. She learned Bharatnatyam, earned a diploma in movement arts and mixed media, and pursued a Japanese performance art course.
In 2012, Akshi opened a dance studio in Delhi, called ‘Quiet House’, where she used to several dance workshops and festivals. Over time, she also took to reading books on naturopathy and Ayurveda.
“Being involved in somatic work throughout the day, I took to applying important Ayurvedic principles in my day-to-day living, and experienced immense benefits, while gaining a better and deeper understanding of my body, mind, and self,” she tells HerStory in a conversation.
Somatic work helps individuals tap into their capacity to 'heal by listening' to their bodies.
With Ayurveda, Akshi says she experienced an “inside-out transformation” in her health, especially regarding her chronic digestive issue which she’d been struggling with for years. This made her wonder if there was a way to commercialise the ancient medicine form and make it more relevant to the current times.
She teamed up with Dr Kiran Shrivastava, an Ayurvedic doctor with 20 years of experience, and decided to set up a dedicated research and development unit to develop Ayurvedic medicine-infused products that worked. And when initial testing yielded favourable results, Akshi founded, a lifestyle and health brand centred on Ayurvedic herbs and concoctions.
“What’s interesting about Ayurveda is that it has the power to eradicate the root cause of any health issue and its treatment is specific to every individual’s unique body constitution. Most importantly, it has a holistic approach toward health; it takes into account the whole body, mind, and spirit complex,” she says.
The COVID-19 pandemic put the spotlight on several Ayurveda-based wellness brands, including Cureveda,, , , and , among others.
Many recovered patients have turned to Ayurveda and other alternative medical practices such as naturopathy and homoeopathy to deal with the effects of long COVID-19, while others are using Ayurvedic medicines to boost their immunity.
In fact, the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy), issued a circular listing Ayurveda-based self-medication one could take to boost their immune systems.
The Indian Ayurvedic products market is expected to grow to Rs 1,536.9 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of nearly 20 percent from Rs 515.5 billion in 2021, according to an IMARC Group report.
Inside the business
When Akshi set out to build the brand, she wanted to stand out from any pre-existing competition and so, instead of focusing completely on the product side, she decided to focus on spreading the knowledge of Ayurveda as well as brand awareness.
“When a brand promotes healthy living or develops healthy products, it must have a sense of responsibility and duty towards the consumers to educate them or make them aware of what is truly healthy for them,” the entrepreneur notes.
Through its own website and social media engagement, the brand discusses various aspects of Ayurveda—herbs, concoctions, doshas, and more—to increase consumer awareness.
What it offers
Butterfly Ayurveda offers consumables including teas, herbal infusions, medicines, and supplements, while BA Bakery, its confectionary offshoot which only has an online presence, offers healthy cakes and cookies.
It manufactures and develops Ayurvedic, herbal, and nutraceutical products for white labelling purposes.
The startup also has a BA Store at Global Business Park in Gurugram where customers can sit and enjoy a myriad of comestibles, as well as buy products from the offline store.
To date, the brand claims to have earned about Rs 6.2 crore to date. Its products cost between Rs 300 and Rs 700 for the herbal teas, Rs 350 and Rs 475 for infusions, Rs 100 and Rs 450 for medicines, oils and gels, and between Rs 180 and Rs 350 for cookies.
BA Bakery also offers cakes priced between Rs 1,200 and Rs 2,500.
Other than on its own website, Butterfly Ayurveda also retails products across platforms including, , , Ayurveda Megastore, , etc. The startup claims to have tied up with hundreds of Ayurvedic doctors who recommend its products, as well as sells through pharmacies and alternative medicine shops.
Akshi says more than 118 million users have been served to date, mostly via ecommerce platforms. The website records around 35,000-50,000 user traffic per month, although the brand says it receives a better response at offline retail outlets.
The bootstrapped startup is now actively looking to raise funding exclusively for its bakery brand, which it hopes to expand as a franchise across the country.
While Akshi says the brand has tied up with New York Ayurveda Centre in the US, and Naturoels in Switzerland to sell the alternative medicines, it is looking to further expand into the US, Europe, and Southeast Asia markets where it is already in advanced talks with interested parties.
In terms of its product line, it hopes to launch Ayurvedic syrups, powder, and vatis (tablets), as well as wholesome breads, croissants, and treats in its bakery category.
The founder has invested Rs 25-30 lakh of her own money in the startup, which has mostly been directed towards research and product development.
Akshi says her ultimate goal is for Butterfly Ayurveda to become a renowned global brand for Ayurveda-focused wellbeing and holistic lifestyle.
(The story was updated to clarify that 'The Quiet House' is not operational anymore, and the Global Business Park is situated in Gurugram. Also, removed Akshi's statement on wheat-flour cakes.)
Edited by Kanishk Singh