Before leaving for a party, sisters Radhika, Jagriti and Deepika Choudhary would take out a bowl filled with crushed beetroot from the fridge and apply it on their cheeks. “Its juice was our rouge during college days," recalls Deepika, who continues to use only natural skincare products. The jugaad was inspired by their lifestyle. “Stay natural... our father always told us," explains the 30-year-old, who, along with her siblings, founded natural skincare brand SkinYoga.
Founded seven years ago, SkinYoga offers all-natural products for body, foot, face and hair in 29 countries, including Malaysia, South Africa and New Zealand. The product ingredients are sourced from across the country, including the 20-acre organic farm in the outskirts of Ahmedabad where the Choudhary sisters grew up.
“Our target audience are women who want to understand the benefits of natural skincare. Educating her will indirectly get us an entry into her family’s vanity bag," says Deepika.
“Living an organic life is not a trend or something one does to look cool. It’s a way of being. And why shouldn’t it be? Look at the times we live in."
The idea for SkinYoga came when the three sisters moved to various parts of the world for studies. They struggled to find 100% natural skin products. “Different countries permit different percentages (of chemicals) in organic products, which made finding the right product for our skin such a hassle," says Deepika.
Following the experience, the three conducted an informal survey, asking friends and college classmates if they would be interested in buying natural products. They found a market waiting to be explored.
With ample family support and some savings, the Choudhary sisters started working on the product formulations.
Their strategy to keep SkinYoga products natural was simple: make them in powder form, or add oil. “The moment you create something that is a cream or a liquid, it needs a preservative to increase its shelf life," explains Deepika.
The initial marketing strategy was handing out products as freebies, and as the word of mouth spread, their customers increased.
“It reconfirmed our belief that there was a market for our kind of products," says Deepika.
Some of the products have been inspired by their grandmother’s “recipes" like the sandalwood and saffron face mask, while some have been created after consultations with and studies by dermatologists in a laboratory in Massachusetts, overseen by Radhika, 32.
“We all have our designated work. Jagriti looks after the finances, Radhika, the products, and I, the creative side," says Deepika.
The division is based on their interests—Deepika, who is in Ahmedabad, completed a photography course from Paris’ Speos; US-based Radhika studied at Central Saint Martins College of Arts in London, and has worked with the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Burberry; and Jagriti, who lives in Mumbai, studied at Babson College, London School of Economics and Harvard University.
Doesn’t being in different time zones make the decision-making process slow? “It actually helps us reach out to different customers and learn from their feedback. We are still growing," says Deepika.
At present, SkinYoga offers 14 products, in the price range of ₹400-2,500, which are available only online “since that’s how the world is moving forward".
“We want to stay true to our startup’s principles: ahimsa (cruelty-free products), satya (providing true information about the ingredients), and aparigraha (keeping them simple by adding only three-four ingredients). Introducing more products could mean losing track. We want to focus on giving the right product rather than many," explains Deepika.
Runs in the family
The decision to become startup founders was not a surprise to their family. “Our family has always been in business, so it was natural for us to do business, either individually or together. From five products in 2012 to 14 now, we have been lucky. But a lot needs to be done. We want to see every vanity bag chemical-free," says Deepika. In the pursuit of a happy and healthy life, people follow fad trends, she adds. “What we forget is, being and staying natural is perhaps the best way to live. It is just a very, very simple, satisfying life." The Slow Movement follows ventures that are changing how we look at health, beauty and fashion.