I am very delighted to introduce Sharanya and Saraunya, two-spirited women, my dear friends, who have vowed to take us back to our roots with their range of herbal products. Their home-based business started in a small way in November 2016, when they prepared a herbal bath powder and hand-delivered it to a small group of friends and relatives. I was one of their earliest customers. In four years, they have grown gradually and are now selling a range of traditional products under the brand name Parambariyam.
Here is an interview with the two of them about their passion, which they have developed into a successful business model.
The idea behind Parambariyam….
We are friends since our school days. We often pondered about the increase in the use of chemical products in our day-to-day lives and wanted to reduce using them. Incidentally, both our families used to prepare bath-powder at home using traditional ingredients – channa dal, moong dal, and turmeric during our childhood days. So, we thought why not make this product in a small batch at our home and sell it to friends and our families.
This is how it all started. We researched more on that topic and added a few more ingredients and the result came out really well. It became an instant hit among our customers. Also, we made a conscious decision not to use plastic in our packaging. Hence, we sold our bath powder in glass bottles. To add a personal touch, we used handwritten product tags and tied them around the bottle using jute threads. We also hand-delivered our product along with a thank-you note.
We were selling only our first and only product bath powder till the end of 2019. Once we decided to increase our range of products, we thought of the brand name Parambariyam. It means tradition in Tamil.
A friend once complained about hair loss to us and we gifted her a bottle of a hair oil concoction which we were using at home. She liked the oil very much and said that her hair fall has reduced drastically. She even suggested selling this oil. She placed an order of 18 bottles, to begin with. We started selling hair oil next.
Then slowly included turmeric powder (kasturi manjal), digestive powder, shikakai for hair, bath powder for babies, and soap-nut powder. Apart from this we also sell traditional cookware – brass coffee filter, brass davara-tumbler set, brass canister, and eeya sombu. For those of you who do not know about eeya sombu, it is a vessel made from eeyam, an alloy of tin, and is traditionally used to keep rasam in Tamil Nadu.
So, a total of seven products and traditional cookware. A friend of ours, Mekala designed the logo and packaging for us. Though we use printed tags for ingredients now, we still stick to our jute thread and thank-you notes.
Our biggest challenge in the initial phase was to bring customers back to using traditional products. We had a few customers who hesitated to buy again saying that it was time consuming to use herbal wash and their bathrooms got messy. Eventually, they too got around when they realized the goodness in our products. Now, a lot of people are interested in our herbal bath powder.
Another challenge was to tackle packaging. We were only hand-delivering our products for a long time. When the orders increased, we found it difficult to deliver them personally. Then we started couriering our products. We still love to hand-deliver them though.
Running a business from home is not easy. Especially for women. We have to juggle between work and home efficiently. Since we sun-dry most of our products before grinding them, sunlight is essential. During the monsoon, we would source our raw materials earlier and make a few batches before the onset of rains.
Now, we are present in social media as well. Hence, we need to plan time for promoting in the digital platform too. The perfect chemistry between us helps us to handle our work efficiently.
Our business is thriving mostly through word-of-mouth promotions. There is one specific customer Laxmy aunty we would like to mention. She felt genuinely happy about the idea behind our products and got in many customers. She calls us regularly and encourages us to do more. Many such customers promote our products wholeheartedly without expecting anything in return. We will be always indebted to these well-wishers.
Also, we want to thank our spouses for their support, without whom this business wouldn’t be possible.
Both of you have had successful careers, what do you think of this change?
What we have realised is that we love the hard work we are putting into research, sourcing, and preparation of the products for our business. When you are passionate about something, you don’t find it a chore. Instead of working for someone, developing our own brand is worthy and we never regretted our decision to quit our jobs.
Initially, we were grinding about a kilogram per batch. Now, we are grinding up to 4 kg per batch. We have delivered our products to countries like the US, UK, and Canada. Our biggest order was a whopping 32 kg of bath and shikakai powder together. We are excited about how far we have come and are humbled by the gratitude of our customers.
For orders contact 98844 55203, 98416 39877.