Sekuru Asha, a resident of Andhra Pradesh, runs Tanvi Naturals, a venture that sells natural and homemade baby and mother products. Her journey, one marred by many hardships, is a testament to what happens when a woman doesn’t give up.
A girl from Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur village, who lost her father at the age of five and started working at the age of 18, would never have dreamt that she might be an entrepreneur some day.
After her father died, Sekuru Asha was raised by her mother and grandfather. But when the latter passed away when she was 15, she was forced to put a hold on her regular education.
Asha managed to complete her Bachelors in Sociology from an open university, and took up the role of a counsellor. Financial instabilities burdened her even after marriage. In between all this stress, she gave birth to a premature baby, which turned out to be a complicated delivery.
“My family wanted me to deliver a healthy baby the natural way. Before delivery, we used natural products like turmeric to ensure the baby’s health. After her birth, we started using chemical laden powders, oils, and moisturisers. One reason was ignorance, the other was unaffordability of natural products,” Asha, 37, tells The Better India.
When rashes began to appear on her baby’s skin, Asha was finally made privy to the effects of chemical products. She sought help from her husband’s grandmother and his brother who was an Ayurvedic doctor. She also took notes from the ancient recipes of skincare from her grandmother.
Simultaneously, she pursued a course in naturopathy and Ayurvedic cosmetics. The first products she assembled after completing her course were almond extract oil and ubtan powder. “They did wonders for my baby’s skin. I told some friends to use the products as well,” she says.
“They all gushed about how unique and helpful the products were, which became my inspiration to discover more. That’s how Tanvi Naturals was kicked off in 2015, a year after my baby Tanvi was born. In the beginning, all the marketing was through word of mouth,” she explains.
“There is an age-old tradition in Indian households that if a family is facing any financial troubles, they accuse the new born baby for bringing bad luck. I heard similar jibes from the people around me. That’s why I named my venture ‘Tanvi’. Now I’m the mother of two babies with the same name,” she smiles.
From Rs 200 to Rs 25 lakh
“My investment to make ubtan powder was just Rs 200. Initially, my focus was just baby products. But several mothers contacted me for items to reduce postpartum hair fall and skin issues. This made me step into ‘mommy’ products too,” she says.
Her business received a sudden outpour of love in 2019 when a newspaper reported on the brand. “I started getting over a 100 calls everyday,” she says. Social media was a boon to the newbie entrepreneur, and most of the sales happened there.
The major ingredients used in all Tanvi’s products are dried flowers, herbs and natural oils. Asha’s mother, who is her constant support system, takes care of the manufacturing unit in Guntur. The company has six other employees.
“The early research and sales happened from our home itself. Later we moved into a formal set up,” the entrepreneur adds.
The star products of Tanvi Naturals are almond extract oil, baby hair oil, kajal, almond butter, lip balm, dark circle remover oil, and revitalising hair oil. There are more than 40 products on their website, which are loved by hundreds of customers.
Deepthi Gowtham, a regular customer of Tanvi, says, “The products speak for themselves. The originality and freshness of the ingredients give an amazing feel to the skin, both to me and my baby.”
Asha says that most of her orders come from non-resident Indians living in the US, UK and many Gulf countries. “I think they are more aware of the adverse effects of chemicals and are trying to get back to natural stuff. Ever since the company received its export and import licence, there have been plenty of orders,” she shares.
The entrepreneur hopes to expand her business to Amazon and also conduct workshops for women who are stepping into ventures like these. “Women should come forward with their ideas. There sure will be hurdles, but we can jump them all with grace,” says Asha.
Edited by Divya Sethu