Actor and television star Shwetha Prasad has always had an inclination towards all things natural, but it was a trip to Meghalaya that reaffirmed her faith in it. “A friend and I were on a trip to the North East of India and were backpacking through the region for many weeks. It was then that I noticed how the locals use only natural and homemade products in their daily lives… be it the food, utensils, kitchen essentials, clothes, dyes… you name it and it was natural,” points out Shwetha. That trip left a lasting impression on the actor, who then slowly began changing her ways, including food choices and personal care products. “I had noticed the lovely skin and hair folks in the North East have during our trip and realised that they don’t use any store-bought products. That’s how I decided that I will do away with all hair and body brands that are sold in the market. I make my own oils with the herbs and leaves that are in my garden, formulate face packs with fruits that are growing at home,” shares Shwetha. Not surprisingly then, this lockdown with time on her hands, the actor went ahead and launched her own line of organic bath and body products called With Love Stores. “Like I always say, everything begins with a small decision. And I decided to help those who had a similar mind-set like me by introducing a line of products that could aid them in going green,” states Shwetha. Starting in August this year, With Love Stores works with a strictly-women team and Shwetha likes encouraging new and local talents who wish to showcase their work. “I have women from my hometown, Shimoga, who make the wellness kits, a budding artist who makes colourful pendants with natural shades, ilkal sarees to promote rural art and so forth,” says the actor. The line features everyday coconut shell holders, organic honey, wooden combs, organic shampoos and conditioners, tooth powder, wild turmeric, herbal face packs, bamboo forks and spoons, steel straws, lip balms made with the best natural ingredients and even a medicinal plant kit that has rare herbs and plants. “The idea is to reduce our carbon footprint, reuse, recycle and become conscious citizens of the planet,” shares Shwetha.
Kannada’s ace singer/popular rapper Alok and wife Nisha Natarajan made the switch to following a sustainable lifestyle a year ago. “We started realising that we were developing allergies and we traced it to the floor cleaner that we were using at the time. It was the same with soaps. Slowly we began replacing everything in the house with organic items. While earlier I didn’t have much time to delve into these things in detail, the lockdown helped because we were working out of home and had time to experiment,” shares Nisha. A fan of DIY experiments, she started out with making simple soaps. “And along the way, we realised how much plastic we use in the process. A bar of soap is loaded with chemicals and comes in a plastic wrapper. Alok and I decided that we were going to work towards eliminating plastic in our daily use and begin reusing and upcycling our items,” shares Nisha. That is how her pet project Down to Earth Life was born. “I remember how my mother wouldn’t waste a single item in her kitchen. She would be peeling tomatoes and if we came in, she’d run its peel over my face and ask me to keep the juice on for a bit. Today I realise how resourceful she was with everything around the house. That is what I hope to do with our brand,” shares Nisha. Down To Earth Life aims at eliminating plastic in everyday life. “We have natural soaps, body butters that are made from nuts and vegetables, organic shampoo bars, herbal facial steaming kits, immunity-boosting wellness kadha, hair oils, bamboo toothbrushes, loofahs and charcoal face masks. “We package all our products in glass bottles and organic paper. Even our packaging tape is not plastic but reusable paper. We encourage patrons to bring back their jars so that we can refill them,” states Nisha. With COVID-19 being the order of the day, the brand has also introduced an herbal infusion to boost immunity made from the best native roots and herbs. “Ultimately our goal is to be as close to nature as possible sans plastic and stick to our roots,” wraps Nisha who likes to call herself a zero waste learner.
Bobby CR is many talents rolled into one. An ace singer, music composer, partner of ABBS studios along with acclaimed music composer Ajaneesh Loknath and now a well-known wellness and body care expert, too. “I must have been a child when I first spotted my mother poring over a book on skin care that was imported from the US. I remember looking at the pictures of all the exotic handmade soaps and being fascinated by them,” says Bobby, recalling her earliest association with body care. Years later, it was as though she was destined to revisit the book when she had an unpleasant experience with a brand of soap she was using. “I was washing my face when I suddenly smelt meat. I realised it was from the soap I was using and it got me thinking about the ingredients that go into soap making, some mentioned and others unmentioned on the wrapper. My skin was getting dry and scaly and I knew that commercial soaps were not working well for me. I began by using olive oil, cow’s milk, natural cream and turmeric and saw for myself the kind of difference it was making to my skin. I decided that along with music, I had found another passion and that was to delve deep into holistic skin and body care,” states Bobby. She began with making formulations for family and friends and when they worked, it gave her the confidence to go ahead and venture into it while-heartedly. “It’s been 10 years now and am elated to say that even doctors and skin specialists seek my help in creating skin care solutions for their patrons,” smiles Bobby. Roma, my brand, has over 500 products that include wellness, skin, hair and body care,” she explains. The ingredients, she tells us, are sourced from across the country from regions that specialise in them and also from abroad. “I get saffron from North India, turmeric from Tamil Nadu, coconut oil from Kerala and lavender buds from Germany and so on. I believe in keeping the ingredients pure and vegan and refrain from using chemicals. That’s the sole reason why people see results when they use products from Roma,” points out Bobby. Her range of soaps include from simple liquorice, saffron and lavender, sweet-smelling natural bath salts, herbal shampoos, oils, body butters and lotions, candles, lip gloss and lip balms and natural concoctions made from plant extracts. “Word of mouth is what makes for testimony for my products and that is what brings me true joy. When people with skin problems send me pictures of how confident they feel after using my products and see true results, I know I’ve done something right.”