An Exchange Program Changed this Man’s Life and Helped Him Start a Successful Business
January 31, 2023
Every now and then, a single act affects your whole life. It produces a moment when you know you’ll never be the same, the day that changes the way you think about everything.
Harish Chandra, a native of Uttarakhand moved to Auroville town when he was only 18 to study textiles and handloom as part of an exchange programme. It was conducted by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Harish has been following the same schedule for the past 30 years. Despite arriving in the town in 1993 to stay no longer than six months, he never left, making Auroville his permanent residence.
His involvement in the textile programme had such an impression on him that he decided to base the remainder of his life and career there. The outcome of that choice is his business, Natura, which sells a variety of domestically produced natural self-care items.
He changed his concentration from textiles to the self-care sector as a result of this intriguing story.
Harish in 1998 saw two foreign visitors come to Auroville carrying a bar of soap and a promise. Since the Indian market was flooded with chemical variants at the time, homemade soaps felt like something of a luxury. The village was amazed by the handcrafted soaps that the visitors from abroad brought, wondering how natural soaps could smell so lovely and fragrant.
Harish was so excited and intrigued that he decided to experiment with herbs and oils from the neighboring gardens and make an ayurvedic version of Natural Soaps in his own home. Organic soap Making natural soaps was a very logical progression for him after using a handloom to export clothing.
Over time, he developed a company called Natura out of his trials.
In his products, coconut is the main component as it is widely available across Tamil Nadu and southern India. He also utilized organic cocoa butter, castor oil, sesame oil, neem powder, rosemary, apricot, and almonds.
For the soaps, he uses moringa, and the essential oils of tulsi and basil are added. As he doesn’t use refined oils, he occasionally claims to his customers that the ingredients in his soaps are even higher quality than those used in cooking.
The soaps have a two-year shelf life. Determining the ingredients for each soap is essential; they are made using a cold-pressed method. He learned from his experiments that very little neem added to the Natural Soaps can make them even more herbal.
Sustainable, all the way
Harish was able to create more than 30 different natural soap varieties. Once the soaps have been created in molds, they are kept in a sizable space on racks with ventilation where the drying process takes place. Before the pandemic, the soap bars were packaged in plastic, but after it, they switched to dry banana leaves.
Although sustainable, this was difficult during the monsoon since the leaves would deteriorate. Therefore, Harish chose to package and sell the soap in butter paper or perhaps even glass jars. The leftover soaps from Natura’s zero-waste manufacturing process are ground into laundry powders that may be used for regular laundry. Additionally, Harish has created an activated tooth powder using bamboo and charcoal.
Their online store offers international shipping. Because they are produced without chemicals, the products are more expensive than those found in the market. While a kilogramme of laundry powder costs Rs 500, soap bars start at Rs 150, and 30 g of tooth powder costs Rs 300.
The production facility can produce 40,000 soaps every month, and Natura receives requests for about 800 soaps each day. Bengaluru, Pondicherry, Chennai, Kolkata, Himachal Pradesh, and Mumbai are among the places that receive their goods.
Roshini Muthukumar, a native of Chennai, started her career as a content writer but made a switch to journalism to pursue her passion. She has experience writing about human interest stories, innovative technology, entrepreneurs, research blogs, and more. Previously, Roshini has done internships with The Hindu, Metroplus and worked as a correspondent with The Better India.
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