From Wayanadan manjal to Aloe Vera, Kerala woman turns love for herbs into an exciting company

Under her brand ‘Haeal’, Sandhya Vimal has launched a fresh line of personal care products which come with a herbal twist.
From Wayanadan manjal to Aloe Vera, Kerala woman turns love for herbs into an exciting company
From Wayanadan manjal to Aloe Vera, Kerala woman turns love for herbs into an exciting company
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Ten years ago, Sandhya Vimal was employed in the banking sector, living a very different life from what she leads now. Back then, while she was crunching numbers and staring at spreadsheets all day long, her passion for herbs and an organic lifestyle always made her feel like she wanted to do something else, something she loves. And it is this undying love for herbs – especially the ones found in Kerala – that has paved the way for her to create a successful herbal wellness brand, which is now an official sponsor of Kerala Blasters.

With a decade’s worth of experience in the personal-care FMCG industry, the 40-year-old entrepreneur from Palakkad has now launched a line of personal care products with a herbal twist, under the brand name ‘Haeal’. Her journey of launching this brand is rooted, in many ways, to the legacy of Ayurveda in her husband’s family.

“I got married into a family in Palakkad which ran a traditional Ayurveda brand. Their business is as old and well-known. It is here that I was introduced to the fascinating world of Ayurveda, herbs and herbal potions,” Sandhya tells TNM. It wasn’t just the distinct scents and tastes of the herbs which attracted her.  “Each herb was so intrinsic to Kerala and had many medicinal properties, which were great for the body,” she adds.

Unlocking value of herbs amidst pandemic

From the Wayanadan manjal (turmeric), Aloe Vera and neem to basil, grapeseed and saffron, each of them could be sourced within Kerala and had properties which were ideal for skin and hair. Using these herbs, Sandhya first began developing face-care, hair-care and body-and-bath products. But just like nearly every other sector, the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding economic shock dealt a body-blow to the high-end personal care FMCG space too, pushing small-scale product makers like Sandhya to think outside the box. 

The market was changing and there was a shift in demand for affordable disinfectant products. “Sanitisers, hand-washes, vegetable cleaners, floor cleaners and body washes had a surge in demand, and people were also looking at affordable yet quality products,” Sandhya explains. 

At the same time, around her neighbourhood in Palakkad’s Puthur, she noticed the pandemic taking a severe toll on people from lower income groups. “People discontinued their domestic helps fearing the virus. Daily-wage workers had no jobs, tribal women and men who were doing odd jobs and errands ran out of work. I saw this and wondered how I could help them. I wanted to build a sustainable business in personal care products which could also generate income for people who lost their jobs,” Sandhya says. 

Personal care, with a herbal twist

These thoughts fused together into a business plan which materialized as Haeal’s new line of personal care goods. The affordable personal care products are produced in Sandhya’s factory in Puthur. They are then packaged by people who lost their jobs to the pandemic. “This way, they can do some work and keep money coming in,” Sandhya says.

All the products in Sandhya’s new line come with a herbal twist. The sanitisers have Aloe Vera in them, which softens one’s hands. One of the sanitisers has become a hit among users, Sandhya adds. 

“We have soaps, disinfectants, vegetable washes and body washes. We also have neem oil and tea tree oil hand-washes, which are great for the skin,” she says excitedly.

“For the soaps, we are using an extract of the Wayanad manjal which is great for the skin and has anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is also another product that we add which is antimicrobial. All of the herbs also smell great and are therapeutic,” Sandhya explains. 

Many of the products are available in Kerala’s stores. The brand is also trying to cut down on plastics by using dissolving paper for packaging or covers with a lesser number of microns, which would make it environment friendly. 

This article was created by TNM Brand Studio in association with Haeal.

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