Purearth is a social venture founded by Kavita Khosa, a former lawyer turned social entrepreneur. The company partners with micro-credit and women-led organizations in the Himalayas, enabling the marginalized to engage with urban markets on fair terms.
We can’t speak highly enough of Purearth products. We’ve been to their Hong Kong offices and we’re instantly enchanted by the company’s mission and amazing skincare line, which smells and feels like no other.
In the following interview, we talk with Kavita about her company and the skincare industry.
We thought we couldn’t like Purearth any more than we already did. Boy, were we wrong.
1. Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?
Born and raised in Pune, India, I grew up in a nurturing, communal neighbourhood. I grew up with families with interesting and varied backgrounds, Persians, Muslims, Brahmins, Anglo-Indians. Growing up in a house adjacent to a temple, my earliest childhood memories are of the wafting perfume of sandalwood incense and the chanting of Vedic rites at dawn and dusk. I schooled at a convent and later read law at Pune University. I graduated with Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws degrees and then moved to Hong Kong to pursue my postgraduate studies in Law at Hong Kong University. After qualifying as a solicitor, I got my first job at a Wall Street law firm, White & Case LLP.
2. What type of law did you practice? Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I practiced private equity, infrastructure finance law, and then moved on to Deutsche Bank as Director – Product Development Asia Pacific. All along, my heart desired something else. I traveled to Tibet, Himachal, and Uttarakhand in the Himalayas, where the pristine beauty, simplicity, and deep spirituality of the people left me deeply moved. I knew I wanted to impact social change by supporting livelihoods and empowering women through fair trade and not aid. My vision was to start an organization that can provide a sustainable, fair means of income to marginalized women and grassroots producer groups.
3. Why skincare products? And what made you focus on the Himalayas?
Actually, I am passionate about food choices and food democracy; I started with forgotten raw foods and super foods, foraged millets, seeds and oils. The farmers and NGOs I worked with also made value add basic skincare like salves, balms, scrubs, and oils. I was fascinated with the benefits of these simple, pure ingredients. Eventually I decided to use the very same ingredients to come up with a skincare line.
My promise is purity, and to offer the safest ethical skincare and wellbeing line found on the planet. What we put on our skin is just as important as what we ingest into our bodies. I kept mindful of the fact that nearly 70% of what one applies on their skin is absorbed into the bloodstream and therefore aimed to find consciousness is cosmetics. I am amazed by the untouched purity of the Himalayas and the potency of the botanical plants and flowers that are indigenous to this eco habitat and consider them a gift from Mother Nature to mankind.
4. When it comes to skincare products what is a “holistic Ayurvedic approach”?
I like to work by this mantra that “our body is a microcosm, the universe is the macrocosm.” A holistic Ayurvedic approach to beauty does not rely on quick fixes or chemical solutions; rather, it believes that for the external to be beautiful, the internal must be in balance.
Harnessing the power and potency of wild harvested herbs, seeds, roots, plants, and flowers, we use ancient Ayurvedic principles and indigenous knowledge in our product recipes and treatment methodologies.
Ayurveda prescribes a simple process of stimulating circulation and eliminating toxins to nourish the system and to restore balance to the mind body and spirit.
An Ayurvedic approach to skincare identifies three individual Doshas, which are the fundamental energies of Air (Vata), Fire (Pitta), and (Kapha) Earth & Water. Each Dosha governs the mind and body type. To balance ones Dosha will create inner wellbeing and harmony. The Indian science of Ayurveda demonstrates that if the three Doshas are imbalanced, it will destruct the body.
Once one realizes where his or her imbalances lie within the body, they are able to reinvigorate their insides through purification methods, diet, herbs, and bring optimal circulation within the body.
Incorporating a system of medicine and science, Ayurveda approaches health and beauty by taking all of these aspects into account.
5. How difficult is the beauty market to crack? Isn’t there tons of competition? What sets Purearth apart?
It is an incredibly hard market to crack, as skincare is a lot more personal, and we work with skin, the largest most intimate organ of our body, as compared to say fashion and accessories products.
The beauty market is essentially a slow burner, which requires gaining the customers’ trust and acceptance of your products, and a thorough understanding of your brand and its values. Of course there is high competition within this market for sure, but Purearth sets itself apart in many ways.
We are a social enterprise model, and aren’t solely focused on profit via pushing sales of our products. We are just as focussed on the people we work with, and our planet too. We set high standards of ethics and excellence.
Our products not only contain no nasty preservatives, chemicals, or ingredients, but our essential oils are of the purest, high grade form and include absolutely no hexane and solvents to extract the oils.
Where we source our ingredients our most unique brand attribute, as each ingredient is sourced from the potency of an eco habitat within the Himalayan Mountains. We are all for labor of love, each product and packaging is crafted by hand, nurtured with love and care in small batches, and is 100% factory and cruelty free.
6. You use very cool-sounding and cool-smelling ingredients, how do you know that they’ll work separately and together? How did you come up with the skincare recipes? Who is responsible for creating the products and testing them?
They are very cool indeed, cool enough to eat! I create the formulas myself in the Purearth studio, incorporating love and care into each product. I have worked with a few bio chemists over the last few years to develop a basic simple line based on Ayurvedic principles.The joy of mixing various oils, seeds, herbs, and flowers makes for all the fun, and leaves the office smelling so beautifully potent and pungent. I’ve studied Ayurveda, which I regard as one of the greatest blessings–being able to discover and learn Ayurvedic principles of living, and develop a deep insight and knowledge of how food, lifestyle, and nutrition impacts our health. Inner beauty is what radiates on the outside.
7. Tell us more about your company’s philosophy–its “fair trade not aid” commitment, along with its micro-credit programming.
Partnering with several micro-credit and woman self-help groups enables marginalized producers to engage with urban markets on fair terms. We support fair trade and for a social enterprise, social innovation and change is intrinsically linked to the commercial success of the business. Working with such amazing, resilient woman is very humbling and inspiring.
8. What are some of the companies that influenced you when creating Purearth? And, other than Purearth, what cosmetic brands and products do you use and recommend?
Dr. Hauschka is a huge inspiration for me, as I greatly admire and respect the work of the brand and its commitment to the Rudolf Steiner and biodynamic vedic farming methods and their ethical innovation of using ecologically derived preservative systems, alongside their dedication to providing organic ingredients. I believe in simplicity, and am a large advocate of indigenous knowledge and ancient wisdom.
Dr. Hauschka’s methods to “support the healing of humankind and the planet” really impacted me, from their ecologically conscious ways of sourcing ingredients, to their appreciation and devotion of fair trade initiatives and unique, safe manufacturing processes.
I adore Jurlique’s vision and unique heritage, and their active efforts of reducing their footprint, supporting environmental grass roots, and their biodynamic farming methods of produce soil that is highly packed with microbial benefits and organic nutrients. I greatly appreciate their efforts to understand the essential energies within nature and ways of growing and harvesting each plant extract by hand, ensuring the potency, pungency, and purity of each.
Also, Aveda founder Horst Rechelbacher, for his leading legacy and wisdom.
9. What advice would you give anyone thinking of starting a beauty, skincare or cosmetics company?
I have overcome several challenges and learned many lessons running Purearth as Founder, CEO and Creative Director. My primary piece of advice is its imperative to have clarity in your vision and to listen to your gut.
Patience is a virtue and failure is inevitable along the way. For my most honest advice; the quest for perfection can often be an impediment and is very disheartening and unattainable.
It’s invaluable to temper it with ground reality and to be ingenious in finding sound solutions within what you have at hand to work with. Nevertheless, I cannot compromise on impeccable quality and craftsmanship, ever! God is in the details.
10. What’s the greatest piece of business advice that you’ve heard? Who said it, and where?
Being a reluctant entrepreneur and an idealist, I have learnt a great deal from others that inspire me. I was once told by a friend, and businessman that ‘I cannot impact any change or improve the lives of the women I want to support, if the business is not commercially successful.’ This advice has stuck with me and impacted my approach to this business immensely, allowing me to focus the business in a far more profit orientated manner.
Images Courtesy of Purearth