This mother-daughter duo started a soap brand from home with Rs 2 lakh capital, and now has global customers

On the occasion of Mother’s Day, SMBStory brings the story of Mumbai-based brand Soap Chemistry, which was launched by mother-daughter duo Pratiksha and Vama Sangoi in 2020. The brand has now made its presence beyond India’s boundaries.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many people, including homemakers, to embark on an entrepreneurial journey to pursue their passion. 

SMBStory travels across India to seek inspiring stories, and on the occasion of Mother’s Day, we came across mother-daughter duo Pratiksha and Vama Sangoi who amid the pandemic started their soap business from home and are now selling their products globally.

In an exclusive interaction, Pratiksha and Vama talk in detail about their journey of starting Soap Chemistry out of their home in Dadar, Mumbai. They also reveal how, in a span of a little over one and a half years, they launched 60 different product ranges and SKUs including soaps, body wash, body scrub, whipped cream soap, body salts, hair removal powder, moisturisers etc, selling it to the customers not just across India but also in the US. 

Small beginnings, big opportunity

The world came to a standstill with the pandemic causing lockdowns in 2020 and it was a difficult phase for homemakers to juggle between house chores and other responsibilities. 

However, as time passed, many women emerged stronger to find time for themselves and pursue their long-lost passion. For some, their children joined them to help them take a leap in life.

Body salt and whipped cream soap by Soap Chemistry

This is how 50-year-old Pratiksha, who spent her life taking care of her home and her children, took the entrepreneurial plunge. Speaking to SMBStory, she recalls that she always wanted to do something other than taking care of her home but due to lack of time she couldn't think of anything.

“I tried doing a small handmade chocolate business before but no one in the family supported them. But during the pandemic when my daughter Vama showed interest in starting up a business, we both came together and started Soap Chemistry,” Pratiksha adds. 

Pratiksha had done a soap-making course from Mumbai and, during her free time during lockdown, would try new compositions by watching YouTube tutorials. 

Her eureka moment arrived when, at the request of a neighbour who was suffering from acne, Pratiksha made a neem soap. The soap’s effectiveness in curing acne led the duo to tap into a business opportunity. 

Vama says that, with an initial investment of Rs two lakh, they started out by making soaps and selling them in their society. Soon, the word spread, bringing in more clients from friends and family. 

“We were getting very positive feedback and people were reaching out to us with different skin problems they were suffering. It was quite overwhelming and that kept us moving forward,” she says.

All the products of Soap Chemistry are lab tested with the laboratory located in Mumbai. Vama says that the majority of the raw materials are sourced locally except a few things like french clay and other ingredients which are imported. 

Creating a brand presence

Pratiksha and Vama built their digital presence through Facebook and Instagram but since the beginning they have been rigorous in growing a strong offline base and thus, in 2021 they started displaying their products in exhibitions. 

“We are a very small player and the market is dominated by very big players even in the handmade segment. To stand out among them, we have to be out there to establish a name. We are growing digitally too but meeting the customers personally motivates us immensely,” Vama says. 

In a span of one year, Soap Chemistry has been exhibited in more than 20 exhibitions. The mother-daughter duo even displayed their products in Goa last year where Vama says the response was tremendous.

Challenges and the competition

The personal wash products, which consist of products such as soaps, body wash, shower gel and liquid hand wash are expected to clock a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 8.45 percent until 2021, as per a report titled ‘India Personal Wash Market Outlook 2021’ by Bonafide Research, a global research company.

Although the industry is mainly driven by the bath soap category, shower gel products too are a fast-expanding segment, both in India and across international markets. Vama says that there’s a huge potential in the segment with lots of opportunities and thus she and her mother are trying to experiment more formulations to cater to their customer’s needs which are present internationally too. 

Pratiksha making soaps in her kitchen

Soap Chemistry competes with the likes of Khadi, Aveemi Herbal, and Ghar Soaps. According to Vama, transparency and ethical sourcing are what stand out for Soap Chemistry. 

“Our products are cruelty-free, SLS and paraben-free, and harsh chemical-free,” she adds.

Soap Chemistry products start from Rs 200 and go up to Rs 845. 

The way forward

Talking about the future goals, Vama and Prtiksha say that they will soon foray into new categories and also expand their reach to newer markets this year. 

To leverage the D2C experience, Vama says that they are working on building Soap Chemistry website and is also in talks with Nykaa and other ecommerce portals for the brand's listing. 

“We are hoping that this year will be big,’ Vama and Pratiskha say this on the ending note. 

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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