When Sreevidya M R, a doting mother in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram, whipped up a family remedy to treat her daughter's dandruff, little did she know it would lead to starting her own brand — Agada Herbal Remedies.
“Many products are available in the market to treat dandruff but how many of them are safe to use for our children?” wondered Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram native, Sreevidya M R. As a mother, she was worried about her daughter, Gayathri’s worsening dandruff condition. So, she did what any Indian mother would do. She turned to a trusty family remedy. Little did she know that this remedy would soon earn her lakhs of rupees.
It all started in 2016 when Gayathri was in Class 8 that she was detected with a severe dandruff condition. “Whenever I saw a new advertisement about a dandruff product, I used to buy it for Gayathri. Over the years, I bought many oils and shampoos which claimed to remove dandruff to help her, but to no avail,” Sreevidya recalls.
Finally, with nothing that seemed to work, Sreevidya turned to her mother who suggested she try their traditional hair oil remedy to remove dandruff. She adds, “During my childhood, I didn’t have dandruff. Maybe it was because of this traditional oil my mother used to make. So I thought of giving it a try once again to help my daughter.”
“My mother asked me to buy fresh coconut milk, aloe vera, gooseberry, hibiscus and other ingredients to make the traditional hair oil. She was very particular about the proportion of the ingredients to be added in the oil. She said that each ingredient had different benefits so it had to be taken in specific amounts. So, I carefully collected and mixed the ingredients for the hair oil,” she says and adds, “Seeing Gayathri’s itchy scalp and flakiness, I wanted to give her the best oil. So I didn’t feel bad spending almost three hours near the hot vessel preparing the hair oil. However, I was constantly thinking about what would happen if the hair oil didn’t work as even the best products available in shops couldn’t solve my daughter’s problem.”
Sreevidya along with her mother prepared 1 kg of hair oil for her daughter. And, to everyone’s surprise, within weeks of using the hair oil prepared at home, she says, “My daughter’s bad dandruff condition took a permanent vacation and her hair started to grow healthily. I could clearly see the white scales vanishing from my daughter’s hair. Her hair also started to grow well. Initially, her hair was dark brown in colour, but after the use of the traditional hair oil it slowly turned into black.”
Seeing the change in Gayathri’s hair, her classmates and teachers became curious to know her secret and without skipping a beat, the then 13-year-old revealed that it was the oil prepared by her mother that worked wonders for her.
My daughter, my advocate
Soon, Sreevidya found herself catering to the requests of her daughter’s teachers and friends. “Even though I made the oil for dandruff, my daughter’s teachers tell me the oil is great for hair growth, too. Hearing this, I become even happier that my product is not only helping my daughter but others too,” she says.
As Sreevidya began to use the hair oil along with her daughter, her friends and relatives enquired about the hair oil too. And that’s how, from a family recipe for beautiful hair, Agada Herbal Remedies was born in 2018.
“I discussed the business idea with my friend, Shaji Thakidiyil, and he supported me to begin the hair oil production,” Sreevidya explains. To start Agada Herbal Remedies, Sreevidya took a personal loan of Rs 4 lakhs.
Initially, the hair oil was distributed to local stores, but now it is available in different supermarkets in Kerala.
The 42-year-old recalls, “When we started out, Facebook was a great help. I still remember when I first posted a picture of our hair oil bottle on the social networking site. Within days, I received enquiries and orders. Most of the customers also added their review on my page and seeing the review, new customers came to the page and ordered the product.”
While Nandikesam Herbal Hair Oil is only one of the products of Agada Herbal Remedies, Sreevidya also produces herbal shampoo, indigo oil to help darken greying hair, and sanitisers at her unit, on customer demand. Speaking about the prices, she says, “A 100 ml of Nandikesam Herbal Hair Oil costs Rs 350, 200 ml costs Rs 680, and 500 ml costs Rs 1,700.”
A hair oil remedy for all hair types
“As demand for my product increased, I opened a production unit at Pallimukku, Peyad in Thiruvananthapuram. I have three employees to help me at the unit,” she says.
Sreevidya says that her daughter is the “tester-in- chief” for all products of Agada Herbal Remedies. “My daughter gives me an honest review of all the products I make. Apart from being my personal critic, she is a good motivator too,” she says.
“My daughter also tells me that the hair oil is a stress buster for her. Some days when she is stressed about studies and can’t get good sleep, she applies the hair oil and falls asleep immediately,” Sreevidya says and adds, “Seeing my daughter’s smiling face, I feel even more proud of my product.”
But the hair oil, she says, is a product for everyone. “People of all age groups use my product. My hair oil is being used by small kids and even old age people,” she says.
She explains, “All ingredients of the products—such as the Indigo plant, Bacopa Monnieri, Eclipta Alba, Aloe Vera, Gooseberry, Hibiscus, Spikenard and Camphor—are mostly sourced from local farmers who cultivate them organically.”
The homegrown brand claims that all their products are tested by qualified doctors and only after that are they sent for distribution.
“I get a monthly income of Rs 3 lakh by selling my products. The profit amount is mainly used to expand my business,” says Sreevidya, adding, “I wish to produce ayurvedic soap and face wash this year.”
With customers from all over Kerala, the brand also gets orders from Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi.
While Nandikesam Herbal Hair Oil is available on Amazon, one can also get in touch via Agada Herbal Remedies’ Facebook page or website, or contact Sreevidya on 9446774222, 9497060310, to place orders.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)