In 2000, Mira Kulkarni used a family ayurvedic recipe to make soap and started selling it from other stores as part of a shop-in-shop model. In 2001, Samrath Bedi joined her in the venture to make luxury ayurvedic products and that’s how Forest Essentials came into being. What started with handmade soaps and shop-in-shop selling has now become a full-fledged business model, with 17 stand-alone Forest Essentials stores around the country. Their products can also be found in hotels including the Taj, Hyatt, ITC and Intercontinental.
The Forest Essentials store at Palladium, Phoenix Mills, Mumbai.
We spoke to executive director Bedi about the company and their future plans. Edited excerpts:
How are Forest Essentials products different from other ayurvedic products available in India?
With Forest Essentials the idea was to start a niche, prestige brand that advocates the use of luxurious ayurvedic products. It is a part of the culture of our country but we wanted to give it a global appeal. That’s why our packaging or store design is not ethnic Indian. We only sell out of our free-standing stores that provide a different kind of ambience and setting. The idea is not to force-sell a product but to explain it. We use a particular scent in our stores, have a special promotion with the product of the month, etc. Our workshop is in the middle of nowhere in Rishikesh, so that we use local ingredients and labour. Our packaging plant is in Haridwar.
Which are your best-selling products?
The Rose Body Polisher, Tejasvi Light Emulsion, which is an anti-ageing product, a youth formula created with dates and lychees, Saundarya Serum and the Organic Fruit Scrub.
Estée Lauder has bought a stake in your company. How has that been for Forest Essentials?
Estée Lauder bought a minority stake in the company in 2008. When we started out we had no plan of having such collaborations. But I met Leonard Lauder, the CEO of Estée Lauder, and realized that we have the same vision for our companies. This collaboration has given us access to sophisticated technology and the highest standards of quality. We can also make use of Estée Lauder’s network of research and development centres around the world.
The Rose Body Polisher
What are your plans for the brand?
We want to first make the brand successful pan India and then take it global. We hope to have our own spas in the future.
Do it yourself beauty recipes by Forest Essentials
Twice weekly, make a facial mask using a paste of 1 tbsp sandalwood ubtan (Tejasvi), 1 drop camphor oil, 3-4 drops almond oil and 2 tsp water. Apply the paste on the face and cover eyes with wet cotton pads dipped in rosewater and lie down for 10-15 minutes. Cleanse, nourish and moisturize as usual.
To encourage new hair growth, make a paste using a pinch of crushed black pepper or ½ tsp fenugreek powder and ¾ cup coconut milk. Rub briskly on scalp, cover with plastic cap and leave on for 30 minutes. Wash with a gentle shampoo and then use conditioner. Do this treatment weekly.