December 11, 2015
The growing number of users of organic products has encouraged the opening up of organic stores in and around Coimbatore city. The good news is that some of the stores are owned and run by women.
For some women, producing and selling organic products is a passion that has turned into an occupation. For others, it is the sheer love for Mother Nature that inspired them to open an organic store. Here’s taking a look at three such women who are involved in the business of selling organic products like soaps, vegetables, fruits and milk.
Lakshana Leelakrishnan of Kshana (Cosmetics and beauty supply)
In 2010, when Lakshana Leelakrishnan was in the U.K. pursuing her Masters in Hotel Management, she enrolled herself for a programme and learnt the art of making hand-made soaps and beauty essentials with natural ingredients. She gave up her well-paying job with the hotel industry in the U.K. and returned to Ooty in 2014. “I started making soaps, body, and lotions for the hands and feet with natural ingredients for close friends and family members. They liked it and it and suggested that I should take it up as a business. By the beginning of 2015, I was making and selling my products under the brand name Kshana,” Lakshana says.
Her business concept is based on “giving back as much as you can.” She sources her raw materials like flowers from the farmers in Ooty who are struggling to sell their produce. The essential oils that she uses in her soaps are sourced from a small unit and some of the ingredients that she uses to make her products are sourced from an NGO in Ooty. No compromise is made on the quality of ingredients that she uses.
Currently, Lakshana makes and sells products like facewash, face mask, lotion bars, shampoo bars, and soap for the feet in a variety of fragrances. Even the dyes that she uses in her products are natural. Lakshana is a regular at exhibitions and fairs.
Santha Ramawamy of Sreevatsa Organic Farm Products (Vegetables, fruits, jams and pickles)
Sreevatsa Organic Farm Products opened its doors to the public in 2004, at a time when the awareness and importance of using organic products was almost absent among the public. But, times have changed and the store is now doing roaring business. Its owner, Santha Ramawamy, knows that when it comes to selling organic products, only the fittest survives.
“Customers who visit our store know the value of organic vegetables and fruits. Only when they are convinced about the quality of our product do they buy. At my store, I allow the farmers who grow the organic fruits and vegetables to interact with my customers. There is a lot of transparency in my business,” Santha says.
At her Mettupalayam Road store, Santha sells organic fruits and vegetables that are produced in her farm at Chavady. To match demand with supply, Santha purchases the organic vegetables and fruits from a plethora of farmers from in and around Coimbatore. She purchases products only from the Tamil Nadu Organic Certified (TNOC) farmers. All the products sold at Sreevatsa Organic Farm Products are certified. In addition to fruits and vegetables, Santha also sells pickles and jams at her store. She makes them at her home using only natural ingredients. Even the preservatives used in them are natural. She prepares new batches of pickles and jams only after the previous ones are sold.
Deepika of Ela, The Earth Store (Natural whole milk, paneer and minimally-processed ghee, among other products)
Ela, The Earth Store is the brainchild of Pollachi-based entrepreneur N. Senthil Kumar. His 22 acre farm in Pollachi is 100 percent organic and it is home to 20 cows. We are told that natural manure like cow dung is used in the farm. For the last six months his wife, Deepika Kumar, has taken over the production and sales of products like whole milk, organic paneer, chicken, and eggs. “Paneer is made from whole milk and we use lemon to make the paneer. The milk that we sell is also whole milk. We are trying to promote the concept of farm to door through Ela, the Earth Store,” Deepika tells us.
Currently, Paneer can be ordered in small and bulk quantities through Whatsapp and over the phone. Paneer will be delivered on Wednesdays and on Sundays all over Coimbatore city. The door delivery of milk has been temporarily stopped, and will rsume in another few days. Whole milk is available in A1 and A2 varieties. While the former is obtained from foreign-breed cows, the latter is from native Indian cows.
By-products of milk, like organic ghee and butter are also available. In her farm, Deepika also produces and sells 100 percent organic poultry products like chicken and eggs. Inspired by the response and the demand from her customers, Deepika has plans of producing and selling vegetables too.