There is a growing awareness on the importance of using chemical-free products on our body. While skincare lovers are rooting for organic cosmetics, these products tend to be on the higher end.
According to a Research and Markets report on “India Natural & Organic Personal and Beauty Care Products (2017-2022),” India is projected to display a robust growth represented by a CAGR of 17.27 percent by value during 2017-2022, chiefly driven by an increase in disposable income as well as rapidly growing urbanisation.
In order to provide best quality organic products and herbal cosmetics for individuals, hotels, hospitals and resorts at affordable rates, Riches Laboratories was established in Bengaluru by Nityashree Swamy (34) and her father CG Narasimhaswamy (60) in 2016.
The company operates under the brand ‘Nesar’ and mainly manufactures health/beauty products such as organic homemade soaps, face wash, body butter lotions, lip balms and shampoos.
With an investment of Rs 15 lakh till now, the company is seeing an annual turnover of Rs 2 lakh.
Nityashree Swamy holds an MBA in Marketing and Finance, and currently takes care of the business. She has previously worked for 10 years at ANZ Bank Australia and New Zealand Bank before joining her father’s chemicals and lab equipment business.
During one of her assignments, she was given an opportunity to promote non-herbal cosmetics manufactured by another company. But right after analysing the product catalogue, she realised the chemicals used in those products were quite harmful to the human body.
It was at this point that Nityashree decided to start her own herbal cosmetic manufacturing company, as she already had knowledge about the chemicals used in these cosmetics from her father’s business. She also joined soap making classes to gain more knowledge, did an extensive study and research and took help of her in-house ayurvedic doctor to make the formulas.
She started manufacturing these products as she wanted to provide natural, chemical-free, quality-based organic beauty products at affordable prices.
Nityashree says, “Ours is a very small, entirely self-funded unit and we have three extremely skilled people working with us. As we further expand our business, more people will be hired.”
The company has also added a few milestones in its journey where it attained the AYUSH Licence and the Trademark Licence in 2017.
She says, “The products made in our laboratory have a high-quality base, which is prepared completely in-house and we procure oils from the Ganas (traditional oil-pressing mills) in Karnataka, which are pure and rich in saturated fats. Hence, there are no chemical preservatives or harmful adhesives added to our products. The shelf life of the products are also very good as they already contain natural preservatives in them and last longer.”
“All our products have got excellent reviews from our customers. Our most successful product has been the special charcoal-infused soap. The customers also love our unique packaging style that helps us in differentiating from other brands,” she says.
Talking about the export business she says, “In countries like Kenya, Nigeria and other African countries, there is a huge market for organic cosmetic products, whereas the Middle East and Bangladesh are also emerging as the new markets with high demand. Our products are sold here under the sub-contracting system,” she says.
For Nityashree, the largest demand for her products in India comes from the North Eastern states, where she says, “Our main customers come from the most remote areas of these states and they are very concerned about their well being in general.” The other major markets are the metro cities in India.
According to Nityashree, “Most small-time brands get hold of cheap bases, which are abundantly available in the market. They melt it and use palm oil and animal fats to make soaps. Harmful chemicals and preservatives are also added and the soaps are sold at throw-away prices. Those brands don’t have any proper certification, but the customers are fooled by them easily as they are unable to differentiate between the products just from the outer packaging.”
One of the major challenges is to make the customers differentiate between real organic products and fake products. She also feels the Tier II cities and small towns don’t really have the awareness for organic products, and hence there is less demand from these areas.
The other problem she faces is the delay in obtaining government licenses. She wishes a speedy remedy is provided to this particular problem.
She says, “The government should help MSMEs like us in the promotion, advertisement and marketing of our herbal organic products and by setting up fairs, exhibitions, etc., and also should financially assist the new ventures.
Nityashree is ambitious about making Nesar a globally well-known brand. She plans to introduce a brand new range of soaps made up of the Moringa plant (drumstick tree) in the near future. She says that it has been scientifically proven that the Moringa plant has medicinal values and health benefits. It is full of antioxidants and hence good for the skin.
She has also planned to experiment with coffee flavoured cosmetics using coffee pods and the entire plan is under the sample testing phase, and if she manages to get a positive result out of it, new coffee-based cosmetic products shall be rolled out soon.
(This story is published in partnership with the MSMEs Ministry to showcase success stories of SMEs)