I stumbled upon Ma Earth Botanicals a natural boutique beauty care product line on my visit to en Inde SPACE, 125.126 Meharchnd Market, New Delhi, because of my love to visit new stores and design spaces. With the change of weather and the pollution levels going up globally it’s seeming imperative for me (despite the regular beauty and exercise regime) to become more conscious about the centuries old remedies which had purity as the catchword in everything. Swarn Sukh and Geetanjali Sukh, a mother and daughter duo are its founders and also healers by profession. Geetanjali answered my queries regarding their journey into the Indian beauty industry labyrinth.
Your childhood memories about using such products? What has been your favourite always?
I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where unfortunately there wasn’t that much choice beyond the regular branded beauty products. It was due to this lack of choice that my mother started reviving old home recipes and formulas passed on to her by my grandmother. We used to visit India once every so often where Mum would buy pure aromatherapy oils and homeopathic mother tinctures to take back to Nigeria. This triggered a phase of experimentation where she would mix the oils into base creams and test the results on herself. I still remember those days where the entire home was filled with a combination of heady fragrances, some calming, others invigorating! Watching my mother do all this, when she didn’t need to, was so inspirational, especially considering the amazing results the creams showed on her skin. Just thinking about those moments makes me extremely nostalgic. My particular favourite is the basic haldi, basin and sandalwood face pack, which on me works wonders.
What is your R&D for these beauty care products based on?
We don’t follow any specific scientific methodology per se. Trial and error of various aromas, herbs and cream combinations underpins how R&D is performed at Ma Earth Botanicals. One must keep in mind that the more chemicals you put into the product, the more conscious you have to be of health and safety aspects and following strict empirical methodologies for composition during the R&D phase. At Ma Earth we make sure to source the highest quality pure essential oils and herbs, to ensure the best results as the chemical input is negligible. This allows us to be more playful during R&D. Having said that, it is extremely important to be scientifically knowledgeable about the effects of aromatherapy oils on various skin types, in isolation and combination, before attempting R&D. This aspect is extremely important considering Ma Earth has a strict policy of ‘zero animal testing’ as it actually makes no sense whatsoever from ethical and practical perspectives to test products meant for human use on our voiceless friends. Our product line includes natural cremes, lotions, soaps (cold compress & glycerine), shampoos, facial scrubs and candles.
Are the Indians becoming more discerning to choose from the plethora of natural products already available in the market?
India is the birthplace of Ayurveda and its cultural history is deeply rooted in the use of aromas for mood alteration. Hence it seems only natural for people to revert back to the old beauty recipes in this era of homogenized chemical cosmetics that make many false claims. As incomes rise, the consumer wants choice which is met by a range of ayurveda brands emerging. One could argue that branding and packaging is the be all and end all of brand differentiation, but that is a very narrow and myopic view. We should not forget that the brand must deliver value consistently and therefore look at success from a long term client retention perspective, not just a one hit wonder. Unfortunately we have too many brands just focusing on brand building and maximizing their profit from the ayurveda boom, and thereby not providing a quality product in the market.
At Ma Earth Botanicals we will never compromise on the quality of our ingredients just for the sake of making more money. At the same time, we are extremely passionate about the design aspect of our branding, for which we have received significant appreciation from our clients. Therefore, it is Ma Earth Botanicals’ honest and deep rooted brand philosophy, to focus on high quality and lay emphasis on cutting edge design that makes it stand out from the crowd.
Is there something that we as Indians need to understand regarding our hair and skin?
Of course, our hair and skin types are fundamentally different. Firstly, it is critically important for Indians to love the colour of their skin and stop using whitening products, which are known to be damaging and proven to not deliver the results promised by false advertising. This horrendous obsession with bleaching our beautiful brown skin also entrenches race discrimination, which is clearly emerging as a major issue in our society. This has to stop. Our skin melanin is actually an asset that protects us from the harmful effects of the sun, bleaching it simply dilutes this wonderfully natural quality. Secondly, irrespective of the color of skin, there are various skin types i.e. sensitive, dry, oily etc. which need to be taken into due consideration before routines can be prescribed.
In your opinion what is the real secret of staying and looking young?
One must understand that beauty care products are only an external application and they certainly help in ensuring ‘skin care’. However, true beauty and staying youthful involves a multidimensional approach to life. As much as beauty products are helpful, true youth emanates from within. It is a reflection of our diet, thoughts and physical well being. So, along with taking care of our skin we must eat well, stay positive and exercise daily. Don’t believe any beauty brand that offers a quick fix solution to everlasting beauty and age reversal.
What are your roles you take up in this enterprise? How do you plan to promote it?
I lead R&D and business development at Ma Earth Botanicals. I am focusing on fully leveraging social media networks, website retailing and limited retail visibility. I believe in growing organically by focusing on quality, consistency, clients and ethics.
We haven’t taken a very targeted approach as such, and are rather relying on intuition. Essentially anybody who is conscious of and concerned about harmful chemicals making up a significant proportion of the products they use on their skin and hair is our ideal client. For those who haven’t really given it a thought, our marketing campaigns will take an educative approach which should bring more people on board the natural beauty care movement that we are so deeply passionate about.