Indian Roots: How Mum’s Haircare Recipe Inspired my Start Up Brand

Naavyaa Ranjan took part in the Business Start-Up Journey pitching finals 2021 with her inspirational vegan haircare brand, Rganica. Here, to celebrate Earth Day, the final year KBS student explains how her own hairloss highlighted a gap in the market, one that could be filled by traditional Indian remedies her mother had used for years…

21-year-old Naavyaa Ranjan, a third-year student, hadn’t predicted that the pressure she placed herself under during her work placement year would actually develop into a successful start up idea.

The Business and Management student had come to the UK to study at Kent Business School from her home country of India and took a placement year in 2019 at a large financial services company.

“I learned so much, but the world of work was new to me. I found myself feeling quite stressed, even though my colleagues were nice and I was appreciative to learn so much.”

After a few months, she noticed her hair had started to fall out in patches.

“I went home to India that summer and my mum noticed my hair loss.  I went to the doctor who prescribed medicinal shampoo which just didn’t work. My mum had always made Ayurvedic pastes, a traditional Indian medicinal paste made from dried flowers and minerals, for a variety of things. She made one for my hair.

“I applied it every day and within a few weeks, it had started to grow back. When I returned to university in the September it had stopped shedding.”

Naavyaa had started attending ASPIRE and The Business Start Up Journey from her first year of university after Rebecca Smith gave a talk on the experience during her first few weeks at university.

“At first, I saw it as a social activity, a little bit of fun and good experience but soon a fire was ignited in me and I realised I wanted to launch my own business one day. The support and advice from the team was so valuable.

“Vegan, sustainable and ethical”

“After my experience with my hair loss, I suddenly realised I’d hit upon an idea. There was a genuine demand for all-natural haircare offerings at the time and the history and culture of my mum’s recipe tapped into something interesting and different. I had a real belief in the product, I knew how to make it and it ticked the boxes of being vegan, sustainable and ethical.

“Following some discussions with Rebecca I thought, why not? We called the product Rganica and I pitched it at the Business Start Up Awards 2021 in March and while I didn’t win, I was incredibly proud to be a part of it.”

Naavyaa is now busy with prepping for final year exams but as soon as they are over, she is hoping to apply for a start up Visa to stay here and will start to launch production of the product on a bigger scale, using Indian factories as well as working on marketing materials and a website.

“My packaging is all recyclable and sustainable and producing it in my home country keeps costs low. I am first hoping to sell directly and via outlets like Etsy as well as vegan stores and websites. One day, I hope you will see Rganica on the shelves of chemists and supermarkets.”

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