Vivek Sahni, Founder & CEO, Kama Ayurveda, tells in an interview how his brand is taking the incredible ancient science of Ayurveda to the millennials. Excerpts:
Ayurveda is India's traditional knowledge, which was forgotten for some time. Has Kama Ayurveda put it back on the pedestal?
VS: We have been sitting on the incredible ancient science of Ayurveda for years, but our country did not recognise its potential. It was our belief in the power of Ayurveda that drove four of us in 2002 to start Kama Ayurveda to use its authentic and time tested formulations for beauty and wellness.
Korean and Japanese skincare brands are all the rage now. Do you think Indian skincare brands like Kama Ayurveda can tackle the competition?
VS: Across the globe, there is a rising consciousness for balanced, natural, and pure practices, influencing the growth of beauty and wellness brands. The global wellness economy is estimated to be $4.2 trillion today, with precautionary beauty becoming the fastest growing category in the wellness spectrum.
The consumer today is well aware of what ingredients are used in products they use on their skin. Despite extensive ranges of Korean and Japanese skincare brands, the consumer acknowledges the good, long-lasting benefits of Ayurvedic formulations. Reason why Ayurveda has a growing stake in this space. Therefore, there arises the need for authentic Ayurvedic prescriptions. And the Kama Ayurveda brand is built on offering pure, holistic treatments for beauty and wellness based on Ayurveda.
Spanish perfume brand PUIG has invested Rs 100 crore in Kama Ayurveda. How do you intend to grow the brand?
VS: It gives us immense pride that a homegrown beauty brand like ours was able to catch the interest of a large, luxury conglomerate, such as PUIG. The stake affirms strong growth and expansion opportunities in the Indian as well as global markets. The investment will help upscale the brand and increase its retail footprint.
Where do you stand on animal testing and sustainability? How do Kama facilities deal with environmental pollutants that may be a by-product of manufacturing?
VS: At no other time in recent history has the importance of environment and its sustainability been realised as much as it is being felt now. The effects of global warming, are particularly hard on a company like ours, which is premised on the use of natural plant-based ingredients. We constantly work towards an improved packaging mechanism that ensures minimum wastage and a reduced carbon footprint.
In keeping with the same, it is important for us, as a brand, to be transparent to our consumers about the sustainability of our practices. We use 100 per cent natural vegetarian products and all our organic products are internationally certified by COSMOS & USDA. We do not test our products on animals and have recently been certified by PETA India as an animal cruelty free organisation.
How do you feel you have contributed to the Indian skincare industry?
VS: Kama Ayurveda uses a 5,000-year-old wisdom based on plants, flowers and natural resources to revolutionise the Indian skincare industry. The fact that we use traditional Ayurvedic prescriptions- adjusting, modifying and reworking them for the current market to use, has allowed us to bring about a change. Our research and development has enabled us to create formulations, including an all-natural sun protection with SPF 21, foaming cleansers for sensitive skin and acne, using completely Ayurvedic ingredients.
Which NGOs does Kama Ayurveda support and how far does your CSR outreach go beyond just donations?
VS: Every year on Holi, Kama Ayurveda collaborates with Delhi-based NGO Prabhat to source handmade colours through Avacayam -- an income generating platform for people with disabilities. Kama Ayurveda also donates its products to New Delhi based NGO-Ila Trust, which provides free mobile clinics, medicines and health check-ups to the underprivileged. We also work with the All India Artisans & Craftworkers Welfare Association to support handcrafts. . Additionally, Kama Ayurveda works very closely with smaller artistic communities, to empower and support them. The intricate wicker baskets used in our store are sourced from women artisans in Manipur. The quintessential Dhanwantaram idols placed in our stores are also created exclusively for Kama Ayurveda by master craftsmen in Swami Malai, Tamil Nadu. In 2017, we sourced diyas (small lamps) for Diwali from a tribal community in Orissa.
Kama Ayurveda has managed to maintain a calculated distance from paid partnerships. How do you choose your social media influencers?
VS: We are lucky to have a digital community which loves and supports our brand. Bloggers have immense reach and the channel has proven to be extremely effective. Our collaborations with bloggers and influencers, across India on various campaigns through the year, have been well received. The diversity in their content with each passing festival, occasion or launch present a fresh outlook on products.
Your favourite product from your range?
VS: I regularly use the shaving foam, day cream for men and Skin Brightening Night Cream for Men. I am also fond of our flagship products Bringadi Intensive Hair Treatment and Kumkumadi Miraculous Beauty Fluid.
Bringadi Intensive Hair Treatment is an all-in-one treatment for hair loss, premature greying and dandruff that restores and nurtures damaged hair back to health. The earthy scent of the oil has a calming, meditative effect that soothes frayed nerves, uplifts mood and aids in a good night's rest.
Kumkumadi Miraculous Beauty Fluid is an Ayurvedic night serum made with the legendary Kumkumadi oil recipe prescribed for dull, pigmented, damaged and aging skin. This unique blend of oils and herbs is formulated to help the skin look young and healthy.