Ayurveda — the 5000-year-old wisdom of herbal treatments and yoga for holistic living is now a part of the world’s beauty regime. Stories of maritime traders and navigators charting the oceans to reach India’s shores in their quest to load up on Indian beauty secrets, are common. Wanting to tap into the same wisdom of all-natural beauty regimes, Upma Kumar started her venture, Teal & Terra in 2017. Upma claims that her products are made of natural ingredients and contain no harmful chemicals.
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Born and brought up in Delhi, Upma lost both her parents in a tragic accident when she was just 12. She went to live with her sister and brother-in-law but nothing could fill the void left by the death of her parents. “There is no one or nothing that can replace the love and support that your parents provide you,” she says.
Upma completed her MBA in finance from Delhi and worked in the corporate sector for almost 15 years before entering the beauty industry.
The change from the service industry to entrepreneurship was not sudden as it was something that always brewed at the back of her mind. “My parents had faith in me. They would often tell people that I was born for big things and that I would choose it all. Had they been alive I would have gotten to this position way earlier,” smiles the 40-year-old.
A single parent, Upma says that she derives immense strength from her 12-year-old son.
She funded Teal & Terra with her savings and contributions from friends and family. “I started the company with about Rs 7.5 lakh, some of which came from my friends, sister and some from my savings. It was a huge leap of faith for me and in hindsight I can say I am glad I took it.”
Two years since its launch, the revenue of Upma’s company now stands Rs 2.24 crores!
“A majority of our customers are returning ones and my strongest ambassadors. Most of our sales happen because of the good-will that we have managed to accrue.”
Another facet to Teal & Terra is the team of 18 female workers who work with Upma. “Having gone through hardships myself, when I started and could afford to employ people, I made a conscious decision to hire women. I am pleased to be able to give them the chance to earn money.”
These members are hired for marketing and sales roles, and on some occasions, they also perform various administrative roles, says Upma. The women work from home and earn anywhere between Rs 7,000 to Rs 15,000 depending on the number of hours they put in.
Speaking about the challenges that she has had to face, Upma says, “Initially, just gaining credibility and trust in the market was a huge task. I had to reply to a barrage of negative feedback that I found springing up on various online communities. It took me a while to see that many of them were from competitors. Having said this, I must also add that some of my most loyal customers also come from these very online communities.”
As for the production process, Upma has in place a team of lab technicians and biotechnologists to maintain the high standards she wants for her products. Every product goes through not just extensive lab testing but is also checked for consistency and quality.
Upma is most proud of the hair care range, especially the Onion and Castor oil-based hair oil. “I knew the efficacy of using onion juice for hair but the smell and the process of extracting the onion juice were things that would keep people away. After a lot of research, we have been able to come up with a method that preserves the benefits of onion oil, and is fragrant at the same time. It’s a completely win-win situation.”
Priced between Rs 500 to Rs 2,690, the products are primarily for hair and skin care. Teal & Terra is currently working on a winter care and baby care range of products.
Besides the onion and castor oil, some of their bestsellers include the kumkumadi face oil and the Moroccan argan oil. The vision for her brand is very clear in the focused female-entrepreneur’s head. “In three years from now, I wish to multiply the revenue we are making, have a wider range of products and employ more women.”
If you wish to check out the products, click here.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)