This Ayurvedic intimate hygiene brand has become a sought-after option for women travellers
Public hygiene, especially when it comes to addressing women’s needs, has always been wanting in India. Finding a clean restroom is typically the top most priority for a woman traveller. And this problem is further compounded when women are on their period. But in a country where menstrual hygiene has very low uptake—according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) pertaining to 2015-16, as many as 62 percent young women in the country still use a cloth to manage their period—the lack of awareness for intimate hygiene needs to be addressed as well.
With an aim to create awareness about intimate hygiene among women and offer all-natural Ayurvedic products for their needs, Sak Rajesh (34), Anupriya Kapur (38), Shailendra Rawat (36), and Sayantan Bhattacharjee (31) co-founded Imbue in December 2018.
Around 95 percent of the intimate hygiene products in the market are full of chemicals, and, globally, approximately 75 percent of the women suffer from a vaginal yeast infection at least once in their lifetime. But there has been no Ayurvedic product so far to address this concern. With Imbue we want to create awareness about these issues and serve women with an all-natural brand,” Anupriya Kapur, Branding and PR Head, and Sayantan Bhattacharjee, Business and Strategy Head, tells SMBStory.
Edited excerpts of the interview:
SMBStory: What is Imbue and how did you start this business?
Anupriya Kapur: Taking refuge in Mother Nature, Imbue is an all-natural feminine intimate wash brand developed out of panch-valkal (five barks of trees), which have medicinal and healing properties. It promotes the growth of good bacteria in the vulva area and helps in overcoming the irritation and rashes in the vaginal area.
Imbue was started when Asin, our Lead Researcher and scientist, developed this product for a peculiar solution in Ukraine, where the incidence of yeast infections for women was extremely high due to the lack of intimate hygiene products and resultant cold weather. The bacteria of the infection started to develop resistance to antibiotics as well. Asin went back to his principals of Ayurveda to create a traditional formulation, which was entirely natural and served as a stop-gap solution to stave off infection until the time the woman could take a bath.
A few years later, Asin had a chance meeting with Rajesh (SAK), now a Co-founder of Imbue. Rajesh contextualised the challenge that women face in India to be similar to that of those who face it in extreme climates. The only difference here is the lack of hygienic washrooms and resultant infections. He then teamed up with the other co-founders to launch this brand with a bootstrapped capital of Rs 12 lakh.
SMBS: What are Imbue products? Where does the brand manufacture its products?
AK: At present, we have two SKUs — intimate hygiene foam and intimate hygiene wash. We started by launching the foam that requires no water and gets absorbed in the vulva area. It is our high-demand product and popular among women travellers who do not find proper sanitation and bathing facilities when travelling to remote locations.
We have recently launched the intimate hygiene wash that is gradually gaining recognition through word-of-mouth publicity.
Our products are manufactured in Dehradun, Uttarakhand through a third-party manufacturer (Delta Pharmaceuticals) and we source all the materials from the surrounding areas.
Besides manufacturing the products, we are wholeheartedly dedicated to creating awareness about intimate hygiene among women through our various social media channels and widely on Instagram. We talk about anatomy and educate women on medical conditions like PCOS, PMS, mastitis, and more.
At present, the brand has a customer base of more than 500 with 10 percent repeat customers in the span of eight months.
SMBS: How are you differentiating yourself from competitive brands like VWash and Clean and Dry?
AK: We may fall into the same category as other big brands. However, we are the only completely natural formulation available in the category and consider the rest in the category as peers, not competition.
The awareness of the category is so low that the more players that enter the market the better. The market for this segment is huge. What we need is more people talking about it.
SMBS: What are your major challenges?
AK: The biggest challenge that we face is the lack of awareness of the product and the category itself. We are a small brand and we find most of the larger brands aren’t doing much towards raising any awareness in the category. So, it is left up to us and other small brands to do it.
SMBS: What are your future prospects?
AK: By December, we are targetting to serve 3,000 customers a month. We have recently launched Imbue wash and intend on launching a whole host of innovative products that address specific requirements for women. By October, we are planning to launch a vaginal stimulant and lubricant, which are under testing right now. We are also in talks to raise our first round of funding.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)