Forest Essentials – delivering Ayurveda beauty care products on a golden platter

It is seen that over the years, people’s obsession for beauty and beauty care products have only increased. Today, people resort more to natural or ayurvedic products that are sure to have no side effects. It is this space that companies like ‘Forest Essentials’ have tapped. Forest Essentials make products that are natural and they resort to traditional process for manufacturing their products. One of their product – the Eternal Youth anti-ageing cream is made by burying dates and litchis under a banyan tree for fermentation. Ancient Ayurvedic wisdom says that under the shade of the banyan tree, the fruit ferments at a certain pace. If there is too much sun, it will ferment too quickly; if it doesn’t have enough, it ferments slowly. And while workers at the Forest Essentials factory are mixing the ingredients for the cream—described as an ancient formulation from the early 17th century—they chant special mantras. This they believe will enable positive vibrations and energy to be imbibed into the product.

‘Forest Essentials’ was the brain child of the 63-year-old Mira Kulkarni, who is a fine arts graduate. She started the company at the onset of the millennium with just some handmade soaps first given to family and friends. It was a small personally funded project that went back to the roots of Ayurveda with a manufacturing unit in a remote village called Lodsi in the Tehri Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. One of the first things she did was buy an old-fashioned oil press which, she says, no one knew how to use. All of the processes were driven by hand, including traditional pounding of herbs, pressing of oils, and rolling of incense sticks. In 2002, Forest Essentials received its first small institutional order from the Hyatt Regency, New Delhi.

Today, Kulkarni has a huge portfolio of carefully curated creams and lotions made from natural ingredients such as roses shipped from Kannauj, lemongrass from Ooty, and sandalwood from Mysuru. Her products, ranging from the date and litchi cream to a 24-carat-gold-based Soundarya Radiance cream, are sold across 70 stores in India. And her list of clients includes big hotel chains like Taj Hotels, The Oberoi Group, The Ritz Carlton, and The Four Seasons. A lime, tulsi, and narangi range is specially blended for The Oberoi Group; Taj Hotels has a special aloe vera and neem range; and the Marriott uses a bitter orange and cinnamon collection. Forest Essentials also supplies to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Over the years, New Delhi-based Forest Essentials has been shipping its cosmetics to more than 120 countries. And now it is readying to go global by opening stores abroad and partnering with high-end department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges. It is in the process of getting EU and USFDA certification and sewing up partnerships for countries where it cannot open standalone stores.

Today, it has expanded beyond the metros to open shops in smaller cities like Indore, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, and Kochi. It has thrived despite stiff competition in India’s around $4-billion Ayurvedic cosmetics market with newer players like Kama Ayurveda grabbing market share.

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