In today’s world, there are numerous skin and hair problems commonly seen in many of us. Consumers are concerned about their skin and hair care products as most of the brands use several ingredients which either fail to solve the problem or impact with hazardous side-effects. This is the reason why the cosmetic market is flooded with Organic products. The growing consumer concern for the use of natural products is encouraging new manufacturers in the cosmetic industry.
Neeta Addapa- CEO of Prakriti
“We manufacture organic, herbal cruelty-free skin and hair care products,” says Neeta Addapa, the CEO of Prakriti Herbals. Neeta is an alumnus of SNDT University, Bombay where she pursued her bachelor’s and master’s program in pharmacy. A strong backbone in pharmacy aids her to know all the intricacies of the molecules, particles, and substances.
Immediately after completion of her educational tenure, Neeta fulfilled her dream of getting a job in a multinational company. After almost 6 months, she realized that it was not her cup of tea. She was finding the current job monotonous as one needed to perform the same tasks in a repeated manner. In India, research was still in the primitive stage during that period of time. Hence, the scope of any new or challenging task was minimal. Neeta quit her job however she was clueless about her career ahead until she met her husband. Her husband is an entrepreneur and encouraged her, to begin with, something new upon shifting to Bangalore. Neeta’s heart knew that she wanted to do something but “What” was a million dollar question!
Neeta is an ardent woman; she spent almost a year on planning and working on her thoughts. She started visiting her husband’s company and educated herself on several corporate processes and policies. She learned about the bills, sales, tax process, distribution and much more. Sometime during this period, Neeta be thought of the allergy incident that happened to her right after her marriage when she visited a parlor for a facial. The fierce incident stimulated her mind and ushered the confluence of her learning in pharmacy with the recently acquired business skills to discover a new path to the use of natural products for skin and hair.
Fortunately, Neeta met one of her like-minded friend-Anisha in Bangalore. Anisha too had a similar objective and hence both started up a company known as AN herbals. Initially, they utilized the garage space in order to manufacture products such as shampoos, moisturizers for parlors. They used to follow a lot of research papers before coming up with a product and began producing natural viable products in small quantities. Gradually, their work started getting appreciated and recognized by one of the customers in parlor whose husband was found to be an accountant in Nahar Hotel, Cunningham Road, Bangalore. The duo started manufacturing shampoos for “Nahar “with shampoos and products labeled as “Nahar Hotel”.
In 1994, Anisha had to relocate to Bombay due to her family priorities. They didn’t have other option rather than shutting down AN herbals. Soon, Neeta gave rise to Prakriti Herbals in 1995. This time the approach was slow in the beginning, however, Prakriti geared up gradually and marked its presence with a difference.
Prakriti, a natural skin and hair care manufacturing unit which provides solutions to all modern day problems such as hair fall, dandruff, acne, pigmentation. The company does not carry out any pre-clinical tests and hence is cruelty-free. Prakriti also offers a free consultation to the customers so as to suggest the best products suitable for them.
Ideally, the company works on two verticals viz, Corporate and Retail. Prakriti started with its corporate vertical which dealt with the distribution of natural products (shampoo and moisturizer) to almost 100 hotels Pan India, hotels like Marriot, Royal Orchid was few of them; hospitals like Manipal, Narayana Hrudalaya and Corporate sectors such as Wipro.
In 2010, Prakriti broadened its dimensions and opened its arms to the retail market. This gave an opportunity to deal with the customers directly through online shopping destinations such as Big Basket (Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad), Amazon and Flipkart in India. Prakriti products are not only restricted to India but can also be found in other countries as well. Prakriti products can be bought online from U.S, UK, and Europe through eBay.com. One can find active Prakriti distributors in U.S too. Prakriti products are also available in Amazon.com and recently Prakriti featured in BBC News.
During the early stages, Prakriti hired two girls for mixing and packaging of the products. Neeta was the linchpin of the team and she found herself getting involved in all the activities for launching a new product in the market. Initially, the delivery of the products seemed quite difficult. Sometimes, she herself drove to the buyer’s door to deliver. Then, she managed to have the delivery support from her husband’s company. As time passes and Prakriti grew bigger, it preferred to move out from the garage space to a much bigger factory outlet.
Hired people were unskilled, to begin with. Neeta had to oversee their transformation from unskilled talent to business ready skilled employees. The company entertained freshers in almost every department be it was in the administration sector or an addition to the R and D team.
To further enhance her skills, Neeta joined ISB Goldman Sachs Women Entrepreneurs program which offered her confidence and boosted her thoughts to take her company to the next level.
Like other entrepreneurs, Neeta also conquered a challenging road. During the 90’s, entrepreneurship was a new concept and being a woman entrepreneur was another challenge. Getting sales tax registration, drug license registration process had become a ball and chain. The government officials urged them to get along their spouses to the office and claimed that these women can shut the company and can run at any moment people never trusted them.
The biggest challenge Neeta witnessed was to get funds from banks. Nowadays it is a lot easier to get loans however back then banks hesitated to fund. A majority of the banks were open to provide loans only if loan seekers were able to mortgage their house or able to withdraw their Fixed Deposit.
Vijaya Bank came to rescue and helped in funding through their V-Swashakti scheme which is free of collateral for women entrepreneurs. They provide loans 1% lower rate of interest if you are an SME, Small scale entity.
In spite of the challenges, Neeta never thought of putting down the arms. She always believed in herself and had the faith that things will happen in a proper manner. “We are expanding and currently getting orders in plenty”, Neeta added.
Why people prefer Prakriti?
There are a lot of credibilities associated with Neeta’s product. Prakriti always wanted to connect with people, help people, always needed to make a visible difference in someone’s life. Sales come into the picture later. She started blogging and providing daily natural tips through the Facebook page. She always wanted to share her knowledge and create awareness about natural products over synthetic products. She takes free consultations also over the Facebook page and guided the people with natural cures followed by appropriate suitable products.
1 1) VAT, Drug Licence, Small Scale Industrialization (SME) certification.
2 2) For export of products, one needs to apply for Import Export Code (IEC). It’s a simple application to fill followed by paying the registration fees.
Launching a New Product:
Before introducing a new product in the market, first Prakriti finds out the customer’s needs, does research for the natural constituents or ingredients, tests for the color change and analyzes the pH. Products follow a soft launch and once it gets approved it is then produced in masses.
Currently, Prakriti focuses more on the retail sector. The satisfaction factor is directly received from the consumers which were lacking in corporate vertical. This gives valuable insight towards the company’s progress and offers her a reason to smile. According to Neeta, the retail sector is good in making business even though volume may be small but for branding, it is extremely good. Neeta’s growth strategy is to grow more in the online retail sector across PAN India. Orders are coming from different states of India like Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and even small places in Kerala and Mangalore. “I am looking for distributors in small cities,” she said enthusiastically.
Neeta wants to spread across different organic stores. Her target audiences are the ones who value organic products. She would also like to extend in UAE and Middle East. “We will also arrange a mode of payment on our website so that customer can directly buy from our website rather than going to online shopping sites”, she added.
Message to young entrepreneurs:
The young entrepreneurs should find out the customers need. Per the current scenario, a lot of youngsters come up with the idea of making money and they consider themselves as entrepreneurs. They start off getting funds, selling their products and making money. However, this is not the real sense of entrepreneurship. This can be referred as trading buying and selling. “If you are passionate about your idea that you think it will make a difference, fulfill someone’s need then come up with a plan to reduce the gap and give it in the best possible way to the world without being greedy. Always remember-Believe and achieve”, she signs off.