Rajni Ohri was 12 years old when she first developed an Ayurvedic cream for herself at home. An ardent follower of research on Ayurveda since her schooldays, she created the hand cream by blending bee wax, ghee, and essential oils.
In an interaction with SMBStory, the 45-year-old entrepreneur says,
“I used to visit Rishikesh to meet my guruji during my summer vacations and learn yoga and the making of Ayurvedic potions. I would follow him in the wee hours of the morning to collect herbs, observe him treat patients, and note down most of his teachings. All these years I have kept learning and experimenting and never kept my books down. I read about natural products whenever I get some free time.”
Rajni identifies as being a nature-lover and therefore a keen observer of natural remedies. Seeing the body of research on Ayurveda in the country where it originated, she decided to revive its history and bring home the immense benefits of the science of Ayurveda. This was the impetus behind her beauty and wellness brand, Ohria, founded in 2018 in New Delhi with a capital of Rs 1 crore from her personal savings.
Edited excerpts from the interview
SMBStory: What is Ohria? Tell us more about the beginnings of your business.
Rajni Ohri: Ohria Ayurveda is an organic and natural skin and beauty brand which has an extensive range of natural Ayurvedic products made from traditional formulations. The offerings involve sourcing the most potent and sacred herbs and plants as ingredients from the Himalayas and other reliable sources, using the secret formulations that I have inherited from my teacher, and nurturing and developing each and every product with love and passion.
Under the guidance of my acharya in Kailash ashram in Rishikesh, I learned the preparation of hair oils, butter, salves, pishti, bhasms etc, and have acquired holistic knowledge of Ayurveda from him. Interestingly, I was just 12 years old when I experimented with making my own cream. I loved the fact that it was 100 percent natural. My passion led me to create the products for years from home, until I was coaxed to create more for everyone’s benefits. I even learnt aroma therapy from Penny Price in London.
The brand Ohria was started in 2018 after two years of intensive research. The name ‘Ohria’ denotes the five basic elements (panchamahabhutas) that all the objects in the universe are composed of, according to Ayurveda. A balance of these five elements can be achieved through Ayurveda to attain perfect health and beauty.
SMBS: What are your primary offerings? And, what’s their USP?
RO: Ohria products are free of polyethylene glycol, silicones, heavy metals, preservatives, and pesticides, and are completely organic. They are aimed at benefiting everyone with good health and beauty.
The product portfolio ranges from bathing bars, mists, moisturisers, serums, and facial cleansers to body lotions, hydrating gels, shower wash, shower oils, body butter, and much more.
Our manufacturing unit is in Kirti Nagar, New Delhi. We even have a small farm in Gurugram, where we have planted hibiscus, tulsi, raatrani, neem, and many more herbs and plants which we need on a day-to-day basis. We are thus also saving on costs.
Ohria is right now listed on major online portals including Amazon and Flipkart. It has an offline presence in Taj Hotel in New Delhi.
SMBS: What was the strategy behind the company diversifying into so many categories?
RO: Ohria is not just another Ayurveda beauty brand selling its products. We also offer rituals that can be easily incorporated into one’s life.
We surveyed and observed the concerns that have been bothering people through generations related to the hair and skin. We have therefore curated a range of formulations based on the modern-day needs.
The brand also specialises in beauty products and the old, lost wellness accessories used by our Indian kings and queens, like the kansa vataki, neem comb, copper tongue-cleaner, eyewash cup, etc.
Basically, there are six dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, and social. Ohria believes in educating everybody about them through its workshops which the brand organises often. We help people make lifestyle changes and maintain a sound, substantial body by following simple Ayurveda practices. We offer a wide variety of products, each addressing a particular health need or targeted at a specific part of the body. For example, we recommend using cold-pressed sesame oil for hand and nail moisturising, as it supplies nutrients like calcium and iron. It is anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants, and strengthens bones and nails, with regular usage.
Similarly, Ohria cleansers, such as the papaya, yoghurt, and Amrit Ras cleanser, topically remove dirt and dust. Our clients have noticed a remarkable reduction in whiteheads and blackheads, as the soya extract and yoghurt deeply cleanse pores and remove deep-seated impurities; the lactic acid in yoghurt also dissolves dead cells.
SMBS: What are your challenges in sustaining the business?
RO: The beauty industry is huge and very competitive. In the Ayurveda industry, the right knowledge is key to success. Clean beauty is the way to live, and this is what the brand religiously follows. Educating people on Ayurveda and its benefits is the challenge in a world of chemical/ artificial beauty-driven products that offer instant but short-lived results.
At Ohria, we believe in being genuine and true to our roots and ethics. We are spreading the message of Ayurveda being a holistic science of life. Ayurveda somehow lost its glory because of the growing beauty industry offering instant results. However, we strongly believe that knowledge of using traditional products can change the user perspective with long-term results, and this is what makes Ohria different from its competition.
SMBS: What are your future prospects?
RO: We want to grow and expand Ohria to reach everyone who is looking for genuine, pure, and close-to-nature beauty and wellness products. Going beyond the products, we also aim to make more and more people aware of Ayurveda and its holy and true essence. We are also planning to hit more retail spaces soon.
(Edited by Athirupa Geetha Manichandar)