The cosmetics industry is the fastest growing industry in India. A report by RNCOS, a business consultancy service in the US, estimates that the industry would expand at about 17 per cent a year between 2013 and 2015. As per a recent study by CSE (Centre for Science and Environment, Pollution Monitoring Lab (PML) found mercury in 44 per cent of the fairness creams it tested. It also found chromium in 50 per cent and nickel in 43 per cent of the lipstick samples which were tested.
Skin is the largest organ in a human’s body and we leave no stone unturned to make it look prettier everyday. We try various soaps brands which claim to make your skin “perfect”.
When we have so many options as soon as we enter the mall, do we really want to choose one of those “better than the rest” products which may or may not improve our skin, or choose something which we know is natural and healthy?
That is where Soap for Souls come into picture.The husband-wife duo of Akshay Rao and Kasturi Rajaram started the organization in December 2012 when they were trying to understand the name of chemicals listed on a regular bath product.
“We were shocked to see that some of the commonly used ingredients such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Parabens in bath and body products are really bad for the body, and some even cause cancer if used in large quantities. We then decided to make natural bath products ourselves,” says Kasturi.
The engineers, with around 7 years of experience, tell us more about Soap for Souls, their journey so far and future plans:
A lot of reading, research, trial and error took place before they could successfully make some products like bathing soaps, kajals, lip balms etc. “We tried various products but got hooked onto soaps as we could experiment a lot with it,” says Kasturi.
They started gifting these soaps to families and friends after experimenting it on themselves. The response they received was very encouraging, which made them take it seriously and reach out to other customers through flea markets.
“We both have our full time jobs, but the response from everywhere has been so great that this is no more just a passion; this is something we would like to take forward for a longer term,” says Kasturi.
The daily soap
Wake Me on the Beach, Fresh Sunshine, and Neem-a-licious are some of the names of their soaps which are made completely from natural materials, available in the price range of Rs. 50 to Rs. 200.
The duo uses only natural ingredients like vegetable oils, cocoa, fruits, oats, and honey to prepare the soaps. “We use ingredients such that their goodness is not lost in the soap making process,” says Kasturi.
Their beer soap soothes irritating skin and is made from saponified oils of Olive, Coconut, Castor, and Palmolein together with beer and in-house aroma oil blends.
“Ninety-nine percent of our ingredients are edible; they so natural that one can actually eat it. Once a kid accidentally ate our chocolate truffle soap and liked it!” says Kasturi.
They source their ingredients while travelling from various places in India. They even have a new loofa, that’s made out of rich gourd which they sourced from some village while travelling.
Another unique thing about their products are the various shapes they are moulded into, which makes it ideal for gifting.
They started it with their personal savings as they never planned to turn it into a business. It was a slow process which involved stocking up the ingredients and other equipments required. As they started manufacturing and participating in flea markets, the demand for their products increased and the business became self sustainable. They started with customized soaps and then eventually bulk orders for parties and baby showers too. These big orders help them with larger investments.
“Juggling between jobs is a big challenge, as we both are full time employees at SAP, we just get weekends to work on the business,” Kasturi says.
Sourcing the right ingredients and finding the suitable suppliers is yet another challenge for the couple. “For example, we only source honey from vendors who are into ethical bee keeping as we are very considerate towards the environment,” says Kasturi.
Being a small team of just two, they take care of everything which makes it harder for them to manage.
What future holds?
Soap for Souls have scaled up as they manufacturing more products now and constantly thinking of some innovative ideas for new brands. They have set their goals to supply their products across the globe.
“I don’t want to follow the retail model and put my products out their at commercial retail stores. There is a huge emotional attachment to it and I would like to keep it as much personalized as possible,” says Kasturi.
The team doesn’t want to enter into mass production as of now and is happy with their personal touch to each soap that they manufacture.
What customers say?
“We are lucky to have customers who regularly buy our products and keep coming back,” says Kasturi. They believe that customers have started trusting them. People have also placed bulk orders for gifting purposes to their friends and family, and they even take queries on their Facebook page.
“Our coffee soap cures puffy eyes, so people buy this a lot,” says Kasturi.
“The idea is to enhance people’s bathing experience. People should just not blindly buy anything they see. They should be conscious and try to be natural as much as they can,” he adds.
All pics courtesy: Soap for Souls
You can buy Soap for Souls products on their website and their store in Bangalore. They are located at- Koramangla, Near Sony World Junction. Bangalore. Phone : +91 888 005 7784 / +91 988 669 0620 Email : email@example.com
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