As time has progressed, wellness as a concept has taken up a multi-dimensional definition, encompassing the individual's desire for one's well-being, uniqueness and collective welfare. In this advent, the ancient healing ways of Ayurveda and nature's other age-old practices have made a comeback with Indian consumers increasingly rejecting the use of chemical-laden beauty, skincare, baby care and wellness products made from artificial substances.
Organic brands in the wellness and beauty segment are using naturally-occurring ingredients in their products. While big names in the industry have made their mark in the space, the people have got introduced recently to an organic lifestyle wellness brand named BodyCafe. Eyeing a big piece of the pie, the brand focuses on providing a healthy lifestyle to its customers where all is well.
Despite being new players in the market, the CoFounders, Tanushree Irani and Pooja K are successfully carrying forward the legacy of the Ayurvedic system - an essential part of the value proposition offered by their products.
We recently bumped into these inspiring women entrepreneurs who stepped into this diverse and competitive market. And, most importantly learned about how they founded BodyCafe - a brand that boasts uncompromising lifestyle wellness. Read on to explore their eventful journey!
KS: What was the seed for your idea for BodyCafé? How did you come about it?
Tanushree Ishani (TI): We wanted to come up with a brand that was high on quality and easy on the pockets. We were bored of the same ingredient combinations and the same look and feel of the products. It felt forced. To launch a brand that understood what the users wanted instead of needed was what we desired.
Furthermore, we weren't happy with the preset notions of grooming and beauty that our society had shaped. We wanted to build a brand that could boast of products that not just make you look good but also feel good and, at the same time, empower Indian agriculturalists. That's how BodyCafé was born.
Pooja K (PK): Consumers do not have access to off-the-shelf products that offer them ancient remedies and are price sensitive. They dedicate a 'Self-Care Sunday' to make these combinations at home, which is not sustainable. We address this directly, by hand-making our products with the quality of age-old remedies and nature's goodness, and give our users an affordable, packed product.
KS: With so many niche brands to choose from, what truly differentiates BodyCafé?
TI: Agility is one of the most important factors that form the DNA of a startup. We remember it was the beginning of March 2020 when we got to know how this deadly Virus – coronavirus became a threat across the globe.
What helped was the fact that we were already producing sanitizers. So pivoting wasn't a big issue. When big brands and pharmacies were out of stock, people had access to our sanitizers. Furthermore, we had slashed prices drastically on humanitarian grounds.
PK: What differentiates us is our humane approach. While most saw this as an opportunity to cash in, we put a lot of forethought, for instance, our sanitizers had 80% alcohol, plus Basil and Oregano, which are known for their antiviral properties and Aloe Vera to ensure skin doesn't get affected due to the alcohol content.
Our sanitizers are multi-purpose, meaning they can be used as a disinfectant as well. It can be used by kids under parental supervision, expecting mothers as well as the geriatric population. Government hospitals and pharmacies, corporates, direct clients across India, and state police departments bought our products.
TI: But yes, it did come with its own set of challenges. For instance, prepping the team for long working hours, procurement of raw materials, prices of raw materials skyrocketing, logistics due to which we incurred massive losses. The ladies who bottle and package our products are victims of domestic abuse, so they find their emotional and financial freedom at BodyCafé.
KS: It's interesting to note that you identify yourselves as Hand-Made, Vegan, and Cruelty-Free Brand, what does that mean to consumers?
PK: What's unique about us is that we do not outsource our products. That's not a common trend in the Beauty and Skincare industry. Our products are developed and prepared in house. Every product is handmade to ensure there's no compromise in the ingredients. We are against animal testing, and our products are cruelty-free.
KS: BodyCafé has been one of the first brand partners with Gorg, what has your experience been with us?
TI: Our experience with Gorg has been fantastic. And it's genuine feedback. What helped was the fact that both BodyCafé and Gorg were new brands, and most importantly, both the brands have an unconventional way of functioning.
You will find us listed on other e-commerce platforms, but we have received an overwhelming response and growth from Gorg.
It is said that during tough times people come closer, but this doesn't hold good only on the personal front but also professionally. During COVID -19 lockdown, we have been supporting each other through thick and thin. Our order volumes have gone high, and we have ensured to meet both demand and supply. The team at Gorg has provided seamless pickup and delivery, and has been extremely thorough wrt timely informing of the orders.
PK: What we truly cherish is the fact that the management is always up to have discussions wrt market forecast, sales, new user acquisition, which makes this partnership a lot more fruitful. We feel happy to realize that our products have reached every part of the country via Gorg.
We had super high volumes from our website as well and were facing severe delays and issues with our logistics partner. When we mentioned the same to the Gorg team, they were so selfless enough to put in a word from their end.
KS: What were the challenges you faced as the brand partner with Gorg? How did you overcome these challenges? How beneficial has your partnering experience been during the lockdown period?
TI: We never understood why only the big names are taken as a benchmark to establish the online credibility of a brand. We are glad to be one of the first brands to have associated ourselves with Gorg. It boils down to quality for Gorg, and we have one of the platforms that have provided us with quality and volume wrt orders. They do not discriminate whether the partner who they have on board is an old company or a new brand. Furthermore, they are also very accommodative and prompt wrt invoice clearing. We look for a long term relationship with Gorg.
KS: For the audience interested in numbers, tell us about your growth numbers and growth plans?
PK: We have witnessed a massive 6x Organic Growth (March 2020) as compared to last year. We have sold over 30,000 pieces of hand sanitizer this year.
Our online presence is growing. We have tied up with a couple of Spas and Salons, and we have an offline retail presence in premiere departmental stores in Hyderabad. We have started supplying hygiene essentials to pharmacies.
We are in talks to also supply hospitals regularly. We are delivering across India and are also looking at international markets. We have tied up with gifting agencies. By next year we aim to have a more offline presence.
KS: What's the funniest or unique aspect of BodyCafé that no one knows about yet?
TI: Unique is the fact that we have brought forgotten ancient Indian ingredients back in vogue. Via our brand, we are breaking the predefined norms of beauty and grooming and encourage users to be comfortable in their skin. We try to empower Indian agriculturalists as much as possible from our end. We have a cohesive team. The underdogs and the misfits are ready to show our calibre and are defining our pedigree.
Another unique aspect is that we theme our collection. For instance, our last Christmas collection - we brought in flavours like gingerbread, apple spice, and our Candyman cupcake flavoured soaps were a huge hit amongst kids and adults.
KS: Help me buy your highest selling SKUs by explaining what makes customers love them?
PK: Our top-selling SKUs would be hand sanitizers, lifestyle grooming products such as face wash, body wash, hair oil, body scrubs, men's range, and body butter. Users even love our wellness range products because they are so compact and travel friendly.
They love our products because we give them a break from the usual combinations of ingredients; the concept of healing aromatherapy is unique. After all, it also enhances emotional well-being, and we are loved by users because of our consumer decision approach while designing a product.
The fact that our products are handmade with a lot of love and not machine churned makes a big difference. Additionally, our simple minimalist packaging has also received excellent feedback. All of these are available on gorg.co.in.
KS: As successful entrepreneurs, do you have any message for fellow entrepreneurs esp. women who have been thinking of starting up on their own?
TI: It's too early to be giving messages because we are also learning the ropes of the trade slowly and steadily, but running a startup isn't easy.
According to my husband, startups aren't for the faint-hearted. And I couldn't agree more. I do not like and believe in delegating tasks. I love to get my hands dirty and do it myself only because I end up learning manifolds.
Running a startup personally for me isn't my license to fame or to secure my old age. Nothing is more off-putting than expecting only financial growth from the startup. That's important, but there's so much more than that. A founder is not an employee in the startup, so accolades should be directed towards the team, and hit backs should be self.
PK: Not meaning to play the sexist card here, but being a woman entrepreneur isn't an easy feat. You need to negotiate and put in triple the efforts. But remember, we are blessed to have a perfect blend of intelligence, and emotional quotient, so use that to your maximum even at work. Your startup is your baby. It's always a good idea to surround yourself with people who challenge your vision because it helps you to see things from a divergent point of view.
Such an exciting conversation, folks! With two brilliant womenpreneurs who believe in amalgamating love and self-care with organic lifestyle wellness combinations, it was indeed insightful decoding the brand's journey. Notably, as one of the very first brand partners with Gorg, that has a significant aggregation of beauty, skincare and wellness brands on its platform.
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