[100 Emerging Women Leaders] Vaishali Sharda’s Mellow is a blend of maternal love and kitchen ingredients
In conversation with HerStory, Vaishali Sharda talks about her journey of building a homemade beauty brand - Mellow.
The journey of herbal haircare and skincare brand Mellow is the story of a mother’s love for her daughter and her quest for natural solutions. As a child, 11-year-old Vaishali Sharda was the inspiration behind the genesis of the brand, when her hair problems led her mother, Sujata Sharda, to look for natural solutions. This eventually led Sujata to start Mellow from her own kitchen!
“I had the typical curly-hair problem, and there was a lack of drug stores or brands in a small town. My mother read tonnes of books and visited vaidyas (Ayurvedic doctors), botanists and herbal experts before finally deciding to experiment with various natural formulations in her own kitchen,” says Vaishali.
First, her mother made a sesame hair oil, which yielded astonishing results and was an instant success. As word about the natural "hair elixir” spread, orders started pouring in, which was a cue for Sujata to move beyond the confines of her kitchen in 2007. In 2008, Sujata laid the foundation for her first factory, and soon Mellow was born.
Thirteen years hence, the brand continues to provide chemical-free, authentic Ayurvedic products at affordable prices.
Vaishali, who is a human rights lawyer, joined her mother’s venture much later. In 2020, she was on her way to London to pursue her master’s, when the pandemic broke out, forcing her to return home temporarily. During this period, Mellow was restricted to retail customers and was struggling to reach a wider new-age audience. The brand was lagging behind in the digital space, and retail business was not enough.
“My mother asked me to help her out, and it was an instant calling for me to get into the business. I rebranded everything and created a digital presence. Since then, there has been no looking back for me as an entrepreneur,” says Vaishali, who handles the front-end operations of Mellow.
Apart from selling its products through its official website, Mellow is also present on leading e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Smitten, and Qtrove, with a product range catering to several hair and skincare problems faced by people of various age groups.
Being the second-in-command at Mellow was a whole experience for Vaishali, who was practising human rights law earlier. “I had no idea of manufacturing or marketing when I first started … All of a sudden, I switched from being a consumer to the other side. It was a mix of self-doubt and learning, as I was responsible for all the new changes and all the new investments I was making in the business,” says the young entrepreneur.
Vaishali talked to a lot of people, including consumers, entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and marketers, to gather feedback, analysis and advice. In this way, she learnt the traits of gratitude, compassion and patience to deal with people.
“It was a big struggle initially but now I know my value and worth. I know how to have conversations with people and not have them take me any less seriously,” says Vaishali.
Vaishali advises women entrepreneurs to believe in themselves and keep leading. “We have the power of strong intuition. Don’t second-guess yourself and keep moving.”
Edited by Swetha Kannan