The Puro Hand & Body Lotion in our Workaholic Story Box is not just free of harmful chemicals. It also provides employment to needy working women.
The general opinion is that the My Big Red Bag girls are a little “lost” when it comes to beauty and make-up (our excuses range from “Don’t have the time” to “Can’t be bothered”, and the truth lies somewhere in between). But there are two things that we are almost obsessive about – lip balms and body lotions. There are at least six different lip balms tucked into various corners of my bedroom, my handbags and the guest bedroom, and a similar number when it comes to hand, body and foot creams. We have our favourites (see here), but we also love experimenting when it comes to the two products that pretty much make up our beauty regime.
That was how we stumbled upon Puro’s Hand & Body Lotion. We love its pleasant fragrance and long lasting hydration, but what we like even more is the knowledge that it is made by enterprising working women employed by a NGO named Shramik Naari Sangh (SaNiSa). Which is why this handy lotion is part of our Workaholic Story Box.
My Big Red Bag in conversation with Niyati Arya about beauty, entrepreneurship and social good.
Could you tell us a little bit about Shramik Naari Sangh, the kind of work you do and how Puro fits in with this?
Shramik Naari Sangh (Sa-Ni-Sa) is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) that is focused on the empowerment and economic upliftment of under-privileged women in India. We engage enterprising women in programs that leverage their skills and train them to scale newer heights, foster a sense of entrepreneurship and above all, create opportunities to attain financial independence. Our initiatives are based on the premise that the families of these skilled and independent women should benefit from productive application of their innate entrepreneurial talent. The management and creative side of SaNiSa is made up of women from mainstream society who are deeply committed to providing employment and financial freedom to disadvantaged women.
Shramik Naari Sangh has four brands under its umbrella, namely Chaakri, Udaan, Divinite & Puro.
Chaakri, which means seva or service, is involved in training and manufacturing of home taste delicacies and Tiffin Services at Parli and in Mumbai.
Udaan, the second brand under the society, is a bridge between rural and urban creativity and mainly focuses on the upliftment of tribal women. The program trains women in making a variety of handicraft products as a means to attaining economic independence.
Divinite is headed by Prachi and Sneh. Prachi is a qualified Chocolatier from Le Cordon University, Australia. They make handmade premium chocolates and employ needy women in packaging, logistics and sales.
Puro is led by Niyati and Priyal, two young professionals who gave up successful corporate careers to set up a socio economic venture that manufactures harmful-chemical-free bath and body products.
What kind of women love Puro? Who are the other team members involved in designing and creating these products?
Derived from the Spanish word for Pure, the Puro range of handcrafted bath & body care products are harmful-chemical free, made from 100% vegetarian ingredients and are cruelty free, as they do not include animal by-products and are not tested on animals. Puro products are loved by all those women who appreciate what the true meaning of ‘natural’ is. The word natural is used extremely loosely today, where any product containing even 1% of any natural ingredient proclaims itself to be a natural brand. Puro strives to be as close to 99% natural for most of its products.
Puro’s team is headed by myself and Priyal Parikh. I completed my MBA in Finance in 2006 and worked as an Equity Research Analyst with Morgan Stanley in Mumbai, New York and London for nearly 5 years. Priyal has completed her Dual Degree in Engineering & Arts from the University of Pennsylvania, USA and has worked with Deloitte Consulting in USA and India for over four years.
Combining our management expertise with flair for creativity, we are passionate that Puro be considered as the benchmark in body care products. Towards this end, we have partnered with leading cosmetic experts and use high quality ingredients as part of our product development.
Since we are including your product in our Workaholic box, we’d love to know some of your secrets to becoming a successful women entrepreneur?
There is no one formula for success, but there are certainly some things that we have learnt through our journey over the last five years. The most important ingredient is positive, creative thinking. Don’t let failures bring you down. Remember there is always a way to make even the worst situation better. Be willing and courageous enough to go back to the drawing board in order to achieve success.
Never ever, compromise on quality; contrary to popular wisdom, there is no tradeoff between quality and commercial viability. Stay true to your ethics and values and you will have many more happier customers, and growing sales, in the long run.
Lastly, don’t be satisfied with making money just for yourself. Instead, create opportunities for all the people working for you, because happy employees translate into better business results.
I’d love to hear a bit more specifically about this lotion: the inspiration behind it and how you went about designing and producing it.
The philosophy behind developing Puro products is “what we don’t put on our skin, we won’t put on others”. All Puro products are free of harmful chemicals like silicones and parabens.
You can hardly pick up a skin care product these days without reading “dimethicone” on the ingredient list. Dimethicone (also known as polydimethylsiloxane or PDMS) is technically called a silicone-based polymer. It provides a protective cover on the skin, which is supposed to help keep moisture in, making it a darling of commercial manufacturers. But we believe that dimethicone can end up drying the skin and even lead to skin irritation with prolonged use, as it interferes with the skin’s natural hydrating processes.
So instead of relying on such harmful chemicals, Puro’s hand and body lotions are made of skin pampering natural ingredients such as Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Kokum Butter, Glycerin and Vitamin E. This not only provides necessary moisture to the skin, but also leaves it looking and feeling healthier. (Editors Note: We’ve been using Puro’s hand and body lotion for the last few weeks and can absolutely vouch for that claim!)
What’s the best way to store this lotion? Are there any other pointers that you have?
Store the lotion in a cool, preferably dark place, away from direct sunlight. Use circular strokes while applying the lotion use. This helps blood circulation and ensures better absorption, which results in healthier skin.
What do you have on your work desk right now? Would it be possible to share a picture?
You’ll find fruits, nuts & green tea on our desk. We believe in being healthy inside out!
What kind of designs and designers do you personally enjoy?
JADE by Monica & Karishma and Anita Dongre for simple, elegant and eye catching designs.
Who are some of the women role models you look up to?
Our role model and source of inspiration is our very own trustee, Ms. Simi Thapar. Apart from being a Trustee at SaNiSa, she is also Head of the Leasing Corporate Finance Division at Tata Capital. She has not only achieved success in her career but has also completely devoted her life to furthering the NGO’s cause.
Thank you for talking to us, Niyati. If you like Puro’s cruelty-free hand lotion, then do take a look at our Workaholic Story Box, which comes packed with interesting products and ideas for working women.
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