Purvi Sahu is the founder of Purvari, a natural beauty and cosmetic line for the conscientious consumer bringing products that are humanely and renewably harvested. Purvari uses harvested (not lab created) resources from nature to craft high end, luxurious, plant-based skincare. Purvi is based in San Francisco for 20 years and lives with her husband; mother; two sons, Aadi and Ari; and their four dogs.
Sophie: What inspired you to found Purvari?
Purvi: The biggest inspiration — when I felt like I had to do something — was when my younger son was afflicted with horrible eczema at 3 months. There was no background or family history of eczema and I was devastated because this little child would scratch until he bled and there was nothing we could do. I used to go the doctor every time he had a flare up and the doctor would recommend steroid-based creams, whose side effects include thinning the skin. I thought it was crazy that a prescription could give you an irreversible side effect. I started digging into what caused this, what I had done, how I could have made such a horrible mistake, etc. I was told by a very well-meaning doctor that it was possibly something I ate or put on my body. It could be something as simple as my soap or detergent. I was so surprised to hear that because it’s something I had never heard about. That led me to start looking at ingredient lists. The Western world suffers more from skin diseases than third world countries. Third world countries’ products are simpler. Their produce is not polished. Their products do not have artificial scents. For the sake of sophistication and sophisticated goods, we sometimes compromise heavily on our long-term health.
I grew up in India with my mom, a certified Ayurvedic doctor, so I was always exposed to homemade solutions. As a Bollywood performer growing up, I used to be in makeup all the time. My skin started taking a huge toll and I had a lot of breakouts when I turned 18. My mom made a homemade clay mask that was so brilliant. It contained 15 ingredients that you’ve never seen before. It was magic. All of the acne along with the scars started to diminish. Cut to 20 years later when my child had this eczema. I thought, “What am I doing? Let me look at the ingredient lists of all the products I’m using on him.”
All of these experiences made me realize that if we don’t make a change, who will? Change starts with you. I went on a quest for a year — a year and a half rediscovering my roots, what is popularly known as a clean, healthy lifestyle as chemical-free as possible. Chemicals have become intertwined with our lives but, if we can limit our exposure, we can limit our risk. We cannot completely ignore them. I do my best to bring about that positive change in consumer behavior. I am very happy to be part of that voice helping people to make different choices and buy products that are safe and healthy. It’s a quiet revolution and it’s here to stay.
Sophie: Can you tell us about the benefits of rose water?
Purvi: The benefits of roses have been revered all over the world for millenia. They have a toning, cooling effect that reduces redness in the skin and diminishes pores. Rose water is potent in antioxidants and vitamin C, which helps you fight free radicals. It makes your skin dewy, hydrated, and bright while balancing the PH levels of your skin, controlling oil without drying out your skin. Just spray rose water on, look at yourself in the mirror and your skin is instantly transformed. This can also help women going through menopause and hot flashes cool down.
Sophie: You have such a unique processing technique. Could you tell us about it, how Purvari’s rose water is different from others on the market, and why consumers should care about this?
Purvi: It’s a very unique distillation process that, as far as I know, no one else uses. It’s a laborious method, all done by hand within hours after each rose is picked to retain all of the flower’s fragrance and benefits. We don’t take shortcuts by using machines. Roses are so delicate that machines easily harm them and lose their scent. This manual process allows us to capture the fragrance of the roses; we never add fragrance.
Sophie: Why is it important to you to make sure your business supports safe working conditions and a living wage for your growers in India? How do you go above and beyond to support them?
Purvi: The manufacturers in India we handpick live by the Hindu philosophy of good karma. Our growers tend the fields and grow the food so they have access to live on and feed off of the land they work. The entire family is sustained because they work on the field. That’s how we go above and beyond. This is something that not everybody does and is why the local tribes revere working and associating with us. This is not the only thing we do. Social consciousness is key because our employees are tribal and different from the Western farmer you might imagine. They don’t care about working for you unless they like you. You are still subject to their land and how they want to do things. We don’t try to change it. We work with them to be well-liked. It’s a beautiful way to be — rough and dusty. They’re in touch with nature, with the land and the animals around them.
Sophie: What has been the most challenging aspect of founding this company?
Purvi: There are so many companies that have flooded the market with very cheap products that are more than proven to cause harm in our lives and yet they continue to do what they’re doing. Then there are new brands like us that are committed to changing the industry and bringing clean products to the market but it’s tough because what you need is marketing dollars nowadays — money to market yourself. These established brands are putting money in marketing instead of product, while small brands like us put our money into our products. It’s not that these big brands want to do harm, it’s just that they figured out that marketing sells. Entrepreneurs like me are faced with tough decisions. Where should the money go? We’re a 100% self-funded brand. I’ve invested every dollar from my own pocket. Marketing dollars are so prohibitive that it’s hard for a well-intentioned company like mine to get the word out. The challenge is educating people, getting the word out, and helping them understand how to choose products that are better for them and less harmful.
Sophie: Do you have any advice for women setting out on a similar adventure?
Purvi: Do your research. Never does anything go exactly as planned so when it comes to funding, be sure that you have enough and then a little more than you think you’ll need. Most importantly, don’t lose your courage or your beliefs. If you have faith and confidence that you want to embark on this journey, do it. Your biggest regret will be not doing it or quitting halfway.
Sophie: Where do you go to find beauty and skincare products that are natural, free of chemicals, and created by companies who treat and pay their employees well?
Purvi: There are so many options these days from Credo Beauty to Planet Beauty to Whole Foods or Rainbow Grocery (in San Francisco). For skincare, a lot of the time I make stuff at home because I know exactly what goes in. I buy organic essential oils and make my own masks and oils.
Sophie: Can you also tell us about what wellness means to you and your self-care rituals?
Purvi: Wellness starts with the mind and happiness lends to beauty that is felt by people and especially by your body. What keeps me happy is exercising regularly and having a positive mindset. Always looking at the positive goes a long way. I moisturize and hydrate a lot and regularly. I don’t ignore any sign that my skin gives whether it’s a breakout or a scaly patch in the winter. I pay attention to regular hygiene such as flossing... everything that gives you a sense of wellbeing. I pay attention to my internal and mental health and wellbeing in order to have a healthy and meaningful lifestyle.
Sophie: I’m such a fan of your Rose Petal Mist! It makes my skin feel soft and supple and look luminous. Can you offer Supergirls Club readers a special offer or code to try it?
Purvi: Absolutely! Please use code "Supergirls" for 15% off at https://www.purvari.com/.
About the author:
Anne-Sophie Bousset ("Sophie" to English-speaking friends), is a freelance marketer and community builder. She helps companies build their brand, attract clients, and build a community around their product. Her favorite things include sunshine, yoga, reading, and lazy Sundays in with her cat, Phelps. She can be found on Twitter @Sophie_Bousset.