A Tale of Two Friends who found a natural personal care label

This is a story of a personal care brand that was born out of a personal need

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A story that started in 2015 but dates back to 2005/2006 when Dhruv Madhok met Dhruv Bhasin through a mutual friend. Old friends Dhruv Madhok and Dhruv Bhasin met for Dhruv Madhok’s wedding in 2015 when Dhruv Madhok noticed that Dhruv Bhasin was wearing hair gel and decided to ask whether Dhruv Bhasin was concerned about hair fall to which Bhasin answered he wasn’t because the oil that he applied and the hair cream were products of flax seeds which were homemade. Dhruv Madhok fascinated by the products told Dhruv Bhasin to send him 2 bottles, which Dhruv Bhasin did and Dhruv Madhok found the products to be working very well and called Bhasin after 2 days to discuss the marketability of the products. The inception of the hair gel was rather interesting. Dhruv Bhasin’s Mother was vegan before Veganism came to India and she used to make the products that were not available in the store. Dhruv Bhasin’s Mom used to tell her son not to wear gel on his hair, however, he refused to listen to her and asked her to find a natural alternative. After a bit of desktop research, she found out the recipe to make the hair gel. The gel was water-based and a product of flax seeds so it was not harmful and completely natural. When Dhruv Bhasin and Dhruv Madhok started researching what natural gels existed in the market, they were shocked at the result. They found that gels contain alcohol, fragrances, chemicals, preservatives, etc. which were not limited to styling products but the chemicals were being used in shampoos, toothpaste, face washes, body lotions, etc. This was the moment they realized that there was an opportunity since the brands that claimed to be organic or ayurvedic used these chemicals in their products. There were two basic observations that Dhruv Bhasin and Dhruv Madhok made. First was the lack of transparency and honesty in the ecosystem because the companies revealed 5%of the ingredients and labeled them as their key ingredients. The second was that they realized the opportunity to make truly clean products at a third or fourth of the price at what imported products were being sold at.

Arata

Dhruv Madhok believes Ayurveda has a come a full circle, with Ayurveda being around since the beginning of time. There have been different companies to introduce Ayurveda to the Indian markets but the lack of honesty and transparency, price points, and the lack of non-ayurvedic personal care products were the crux of the thesis which initiated and launched the business in 2018 when they made their first transaction before transitioning completely into the beauty care space.

On being asked why his mother wasn’t one of the co-founders, he replied “She would avoid working with me but the other part is that she is actually more than happy that Madhok and I are doing this on her behalf. It started out with something she cared about and was concerned about, has now turned into a brand and turned into a product and is getting us a decent amount of success and the hair gel has been historically our top seller up to date and making so many people happy in the ecosystem whoever uses the hair gel so she is more than happy that we are creating the success on her behalf.”

Dhruv Madhok and Dhruv Bhasin listed their products on Amazon and Nykaa along with launching their website.  During that time, it was just them and one more guy who helped them in everything, from labeling to dispatch. A small amount of revenue started streaming in and both the Dhruvs started actively reaching out to angel investors because they both wanted to go in full time and the DSG group offered the validation they were seeking.

The product had a shelf life of around 7 days before it would go bad so Dhruv Madhok and Dhruv Bhasin went on a journey to find a cosmetologist or ayurvedist to help them improve the fragrance, stability, viscosity, texture, etc. of the product. They wrote cold e-mails to people on LinkedIn and some of them replied. However, they hired a guy who had the same idea as them of not using synthetic material. Flax Seeds were kept as the hero ingredient and products were made around it.  

On being asked how Covid affected them, Bhasin mentions, “Our revenue went up 4 times from the month before Covid. We wouldn’t give all the credit to the virus but it has given us the steam we needed to really propel and really start scaling up. I think it was a mix of a few things. On a macro level, it was people looking to make more purchases online. It was a tectonic shift from making purchases offline to online. We were ready for that kind of scale on the trajectory; we had put the infrastructure together in terms of our team, our marketing funnels, our capabilities in terms of marketing, CRM, retention. I think Madhok and I define luck is when opportunity meets preparedness. We were prepared for that moment and that is what helped us 4x or 5x of the revenue we were at pre-pandemic.”

Dhruv Madhok and Dhruv Bhasin intend to launch more products, grow out the team, create awareness, do more R&D, expand distribution with their Series A funding for which they are actively in the market. Arata drew inspiration from The Body Shop because they are a conscious brand as they recycle plastic and don’t use their products on animals. Also because they are vegan and cruelty-free.