Think of any iconic business and you will discover that these companies were built not because the founders spotted a market opportunity, but because they passionately believed in what they did. This is exactly the case for Mumbai-based Soulflower and its co-creator Natasha Tuli, who along with Amit Sarda went out to do what their hearts yearned for and ended up building a brand that’s been labelled in many retail circles as the must-have.
An architect by profession, Natasha specialised in botanical landscape. Using this knowledge of essential oils, herbs, fruits and flower extracts, Natasha came up with an aromatherapy and beauty line that broke the old adage of natural ayurvedic skincare being boring and smelly.
Ayurveda, or the “science of life,” is the most ancient complete system of natural medicine in the world. Utilising herbs and minerals, proper nutrition and purification and, above all, affirmative ways of living, Ayurveda treats not just the ailment but the whole person and emphasizes prevention of disease to avoid the need of a cure.
The following are excerpts from her recent interview with insideasean.com.
Q: You first chose architecture and then natural ayurvedic skincare. Why take such a completely different path?
A: I don’t believe in comparmentalising creativity. In fact there’s nothing different in what I did and what I do now. I created spaces people enjoyed being in. Now I create products that people love using. My journey from architecture to Soulflower has been one of learning, creativity and fulfillment. I’m doing something that I’m passionate about. All it takes is a skyful of imagination.
Q: How did the idea of Soulflower come to you?
A: During my architectural practice, I travelled wide and far, and picked up a lot of practical knowledge of essential oils, herbs, fruits and flower extracts. I loved smelling, touching and exploring every little flower and leaf that I found. How could I share these unique creations of nature with everyone?
I realised that the best way to bring these wonderful herbs and ingredients into people’s lives was with an aromatherapy, tapping the immense hidden benefits of nature to have beauty and fun in one product, something everyone would love and enjoy.
Q: Why pick handmade, 100% vegetarian products?
A: At Soulflower, we advocate natural healthy living. Our body and skin deserves better than the harmful chemical products in the market. Why not pick and choose from the best Nature has to offer?
We select the freshest and purest natural products and hand-make it into a special product just for you. Since Soulflower only uses essential oils, herbs, fruits and flower extracts, we are a 100% vegetarian company providing people only the goodness of nature. We do not believe in animal testing. We, therefore, contribute to healthy living and ecological preservation.
Q: What is it like working with your husband? Do you have professional differences? How do you balance and separate home and professional life?
A: Amit and I brought Soulflower to life together. We both have our different roles to play. Amit handles marketing and sales while I dream, design and invent. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Christian Louboutin. He is able to design and conceptualise his wonderful shoes because he has partners who take care of the other aspects of the business. I am blessed to be in a similar situation.
Regarding home and work and their separations, well…..we have no walls. We talk about Soulflower 24x7. It’s our passion and our obsession. And obsessions can’t be fitted into time slots.
Q: You also take on interns -- do you plan to take the teaching aspect any further?
A: Unlike many other companies, interns at Soulflower actually run many vital operations over here. Me and Amit personally pick the brightest and most self-motivated interns from the best colleges and let them do what they love. They bring energy and new ideas on the table which is great for Soulflower. I personally help, guide and push my interns to learn as much as they can and make sure they take home with them wonderful memories and some Souflower goodies too.
I have been training interns for the past many years. Maybe the right opportunity and eager minds would motivate me to take up some teaching!
Q: You make soaps from unpopular ingredients -- like Karela. Tell us what makes you see the benefits in something like this? What are some of the most unusual soaps you make?
A: Well there are many ingredients in nature which are relatively unpopular but have very good skin care or hair care benefits. I am constantly experimenting, reading and learning about different ingredients. Even when I go to sleep I am constantly thinking about improvements or about new products. Well you can pretty much make anything into soap. Once I made a chocolate birthday cake soap for a friend of mine!
Q: Your products all have a plethora of benefits -- do you pick ingredients according to their benefits, or does that part come later with the packaging?
A: First of all we try and understand what our customer wants and needs. Then accordingly we pick the ideal natural products and hand-make the Soulflower product. We try and cater to everyone’s whims and fancies. That is why we probably have more than 50 soaps and on top of that we allow customers to make their own combinations too!
Q: Tell us a little bit about the process -- behind the scenes at Soulflower. How does everything go down, from the making to the packaging?
A: First the freshest natural products are brought from local markets. Each and every product is made and packaged by hand by our wonderful employees. I personally make sure that every employee is happy, so that they transfer the happiness into the product. I even have a policy that soaps are made only in the mornings when everyone is the happiest.
Q: Do you think handmade products are becoming more popular with people in Mumbai? Are they doing better than a few years ago?
A: Yes, they are. We believe that once a person experiences a handmade product they cannot go back. One encounter with a Soulflower product is enough to convert you into a die-hard fan! Then the next thing they do is tell their family and friends. And by word of mouth people become aware of the benefits and overall growth becomes exponential.
Q: What’s in the future for Soulflower?
A: Soulflower wants many more people to become aware of the goodness of natural and handmade products. We plan to reach out to many more people. We are also planning to open shop in Dubai and London too! At Soulflower, our motto is “spreading aroma in everyone’s lives.”