The hills are filled with goodness and no one knew this better than Jessica Jayne, the owner and founder of wellness and beauty label, Pahadi Local. The initiative, as Jayne calls it, is all about using local flavours and ideas, and assimilating them into the glocal narrative of luxury in simple ways. In that sense, the real definition of luxury is simplicity and authenticity, also buzzwords in beauty currently.
Pahadi Local has taken this idea to heart. Taking inspiration and ingredients from the Himalayas, Pahadi Local is redefining how beauty is seen – focusing on purity of ingredients and promoting a conscious lifestyle, the importance of which becomes even more pronounced given our hectic lives and polluted cities. The brand’s non-formulated pure products are carefully sourced, extracted, and delivered in a way that keeps the carbon footprint to a minimum. For Jayne, to live the good life through these interesting products is one thing, but to lead a better, more balanced life is the dream. The company also controls the supply chain – socially responsible and ethical sourcing – which ultimately benefits the Pahadi community. The label’s best sellers include Gutti Ka Tel (Apricot Kernel Oil), Lake sediment scrub, Mineral Rich Himalayan Clay, Akhrol ki Tel (Walnut Oil) and more. They also have pahadi honey, a selection of teas and even shawls made from Pashmina – basically, a united front for everything good from the hills.
Jayne, an Economics graduate from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and the founder of one of India’s leading merchandising companies, Sharkfin Merchandising, took to creating the brand after living in Shimla for a few months on a break. The local remedies, recipes, and ingredients charmed her entrepreneurial spirit and she built Pahadi Local with partners Udit Sheth and Shvetal Vakil, with a focus on Himalayan heritage.
The brand was an instant success when it launched in 2015 among luxury connoisseurs who immediately took to its powerful message and fuss-free packaging. We spoke to Jayne about why purity is the path to a balanced life and how she is looking to build a community in the future with Pahadi Preserve and Pahadi Empower.
Tell us a bit about Pahadi Local? How did it come about?
Pahadi Local was born from my serendipitous encounter with ‘Gutti Ka Tel’ or Apricot Kernel Oil when I was spending some time in the mountains. My skin began to peel given the extreme weather and no matter what I tried, the only thing that helped me was this oil. I found it in a big can filled with mud on the outside – it had come straight from an orchard. When I decided to share this amazing oil with my family and friends in the plains, they kept asking for more. That is when I decided to put together a brand that would identify and source pure, local, singular-sourced products from the hills while keeping a strong commitment of giving back to the regions of source.
What makes Pahadi Local different from other beauty labels?
When Pahadi Local says its products are pure, we mean it. Every product is unformulated, 100 percent natural and chemical free. Our products are macro-filtered to maintain maximum purity and the only thing between you and our product is a purity test to guarantee what we say.
Creating a brand like this from scratch – how challenging was it?
Challenges are faced every hour if not every day. I’ve decided to count them as my blessings instead of looking at them as difficulties. I’m constantly learning, failing, and getting back up on my feet. That builds the entrepreneur – faith, persistence, prudence, and resilience.
I truly believe that Pahadi Local has been built by goodwill. So many people who I didn’t know personally but ones who are experts in the field of beauty and luxury came forth and validated the brand. Our biggest and most encouraging one is the gentle support and mentorship of Anita Lal who is the founder of Good Earth.
What products are bestsellers and what’s your opinion on using local ingredients in skincare?
People should use local skincare – ingredients indigenous to our country work best for our skin and hair type, and are also conducive to our weather and water conditions. I’m biased towards Gutti Ka Tel – it’s like a miracle oil and can be used for everything. I use it as my body moisturiser, to remove my eye makeup, as a face oil and post my workouts to heal my aching muscles. Having said this, each Pahadi Local product is special in its own right and I’m the first one to try it on my skin for months before it is even taken into portfolio consideration.
Pahadi Local stand on sustainability is strong? Please tell us more about it.
Being conscious is a path that Pahadi Local has taken from day one. We have launched initiatives to stay on this path – Pahadi Preserve and Pahadi Empower. Through Pahadi Empower we create employment, encourage vocational training, and help to develop the regions of source. Last year, we built solar panel heatings for the women’s self help group community centre in Leh. The lovely ladies spend six months collecting and sun drying our wild floral teas. This year, we will get them sewing machines, so they can learn to stitch during the winter months.
Through Pahadi Preserve, we are urging our customers to return five empty bottles/jars at a time so we can recycle them – we are using plastic and acrylic containers. We will have it picked up from their doorstep and as a token of appreciation, a 50ml Gutti Ka Tel is gifted to the customer on their next Pahadi Local purchase.
What are the additional services the brand provides?
We have introduced the Pahadi Pure Experience, which is a travel vertical of the brand. We encourage people to come up to the hills, imbibe our philosophy of ‘Luxury in Simplicity’. We want to share the local food, culture, tradition, understanding of the terrain, and the warmth of the Pahadi people the way we have experienced it. We do not hard sell the products here, but we encourage everyone to use the products to feel them in their true home.
Your opinion on Indian beauty, homegrown labels, and what you learnt from it over these years?
I have mixed feelings about the Indian beauty scene in India. The market leaders, Forest Essentials and Kama Ayurveda, have done an amazing job of building global brands out of India. The ones that are coming up now are rather questionable, from the ingredients to the story they are telling. But you learn from everything and I’ve learnt to be honest and believe in my philosophy. I’m proud to be a brand from India and hoping to share the purity of the mountains with more and more people the way I experience it.
What does it take to be successful as a beauty label in India?
We are constantly striving for success, but that shouldn’t be the end goal. Success, as I understand, is every bit of the journey to reach that goal. Indians are becoming more aware and beauty brands should make it a point to educate, explain, and be completely transparent with the customer. For them, to make the conscious choice to use your product after being made aware of everything about it, will be its success.
How has the luxury beauty market evolved over the years?
I’d like to think that the future is about sourcing local. Experimenting with new brands and redefining the concept of luxury.
All images: Courtesy brand