One of my cherished memories from my growing up years revolves around my grandmother oiling my hair on Sunday’s. This was followed by washing it off with a powder that she would hand pound, and later, to help dry the hair, another home-made powder was made by her. On an average, each of these powders contained a minimum of six different ingredients and the outcome was always good knot-free thick hair.
As I grew up, I moved away from these home-made powders and started buying products off the shelf and with that came a lot of hair fall. Even today, every time I meet my grandmother, the first thing she does is looks at my hair and comments on how unhealthy it looks now.
Aavaram, a brand that came into being in a Chennai home, was one mother’s attempt to help her daughters deal with their skin and hair issues.
What’s brewing at Aavaram?
Aishwarya Shankar Iyer (23), the muse behind the brand, speaks to The Better India about how Aavaram came into being. A homegrown brand that started with an initial investment of Rs 8,000 is today making a revenue of almost Rs 80,000 a month.
Even their customer base has grown from catering to 20 friends to having more than 200 orders being shipped out each month.
“It all started with amma [Rama Shankar] making me a bath powder prepared with more than 30 herbal ingredients. To begin with she had made just enough for my sister and me since we were dealing with a lot of acne and tanning problems,” says Aishwarya. Having tried pretty much all the creams and lotions that were available in the market, the girls were open to trying this homemade remedy as well.
“Not just did the powder work wonders on my acne-prone skin but also helped my sister, whose skin was prone to tanning,” she says. This was all that the girls needed to finally shift to an all-natural skin care regime. What was even more amazing was that the powder suited all different skin types.
Having used it themselves for about a month, the girls decided to share the powder with a few friends and classmates and the response was wonderful.
“Soon we started using the powder on our body as well and given how well our skin responded to it, amma was enthused to make more.” Two months after its consistent use, the girls decided to completely shift to these products that their mother was making and stopped buying body wash, face wash, and even hair oils from the market.
“The idea was never to start a brand, and initially we were only handing out samples to friends. The positive response pushed us to consider doing this on a larger scale,” says Aishwarya. In June 2019, an Instagram page was launched, and with that, the brand Aavaram came into being. What initially started only with a herbal powder for the skin soon grew into a powder for the hair, body, and eventually, an oil as well.
“Given how different people have different skin types, I was apprehensive about how my products would work. However, with all the feedback we are getting I am thrilled.”
“The product is unisex and we also have many children using our products,” says Rama. Even in terms of the price point, Rama has seen her daughter spend a lot on face creams and wanted to make something that would be affordable.
Adding to this, Aishwarya says, “I must confess, I was not the biggest fan of the hair powder initially. The idea of moving away from shampoo was not something I was comfortable with. However, after two washes the changes in my hair were so visible – the hair got a great sheen and was so silky.”
The bath powder retailed by Aavaram can be used for both face and body and the hair cleanser works well for all types of hair.
“Amma also started retailing with apprehension, the ingredients that she uses are the ones she grew up with, and for her, making these powders was never about making it a business. Her intention was solely to help us,” says Aishwarya.
This is a completely homegrown brand, where everything from sourcing the ingredients to the mixing and packaging of the products is done by Aishwarya, her mother, and younger sister. The hair oil can be purchased in either 100 ml or 200 ml and costs upwards of Rs 240 and the bath powders come in packs of 100, 200, 400 and 500 gms and cost upwards of Rs 200.
“While we source the herbs from a local vendor, the leaves of tulsi, neem, and mint are all grown at home and then sun dried to be used in the powder,” says Aishwarya. The products take time to be made and are also dependent on the weather conditions. Adding to this, Aishwarya says, “We have many first-time customers who are not well versed with using bath powders and for them I send out a note explaining how to use the products. I am also available if any client wants to chat about the product.”
If you would like to order for some of the products that Aavaram is retailing, you can check their Instagram page here.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)