For Harini Sivakumar, the founder at Earth Rhythm, 2015 was a watershed year. This mother to a five-year-old son born with Down Syndrome was looking out for products that were extremely gentle for her son but there was just nothing in the market. Everything was commercial and most products were fragrant, which can be a major irritant for sensitive skin. Harini would be forced to purchase most of these clinically effective skincare from international websites but importing them month on month wasn’t viable. That’s when she got on to YouTube and started making small batches of soaps and body butters for personal use. Gradually, when Harini shared those as gifts with family, they started coming back for more.
That’s how Earth Rhythm was born.
Shortly after her son’s birthday, Harini, an ex-banker, started learning about soaps and the making process. “Around 2016, the bug caught me more seriously and I decided to learn skincare formulation formally and studied some courses that would equip me to formulate skincare. From 2017 onwards, I started selling simple handmade skincare products under the label Soapworks India and was registered under MSME.”
Realising his daughter was serious about doing business, Harini’s dad joined her in 2018 and they together applied for a manufacturing license. “We started our own factory that made simple, clean and clinically pure skincare products,” Harini Sivakumar tells SheThePeople. It was around this time that they rebranded Soapworks as Earth Rhythm.
It was not easy for Harini to step out and leave her little son behind at home. But she wanted to step out of her “comfort zone.” Harini says, it not only helped her find her calling but her not being around her son at all times, made him independent. “He has figured out how to communicate with other family members himself,” says Harini. “That was a milestone for him and us.”
Growth over the years
From manufacturing soaps at home or in a small portion of the factory to using 100 kg mixer machines and producing soaps in large quantities, Earth Rhythm has come a long way. Harini shared that over the years, they have moved into a broader category of selling soaps, skincare, hair care and beauty products and are not just restricted to soaps alone.
Sales and investments
She also explained how she used to run a small website on WordPress initially to sell their products. Over course of time, she shifted to Shopify which has made it easier for her to sell online.
Earth Rhythm had been a self-funded venture until the end of 2020 and used to re-invest all their profits back into the business. Harini, however, admits that there comes a point in one’s entrepreneurship journey when one has to look for investors which act as as a catalyst and aid in scaling the business. They also contribute significantly in terms of understanding the business complexities and eliminating the bottlenecks. “Anicut capital, led by Ashvin Chadha and Balamurugan IAS were the leads for our business. They invested $1.2 million which was important for us when we needed more capital to support our plans.”, she informed.
Earth Rhythm products
Her entrepreneurship pivot amidst the pandemic
For businesses, the environment changes quickly and is often unannounced. Harini, like many other entrepreneurs, didn’t anticipate the pandemic and the pain it brought for business. But luckily, people found time to focus on themselves. “Our revenues for May 2021 jumped 4x times vs the same time last year.” It was during the pandemic that the business also did its first few shipments outside of India. “In terms of the changes, we experimented with some colourful packaging that was a big hit and we intend to continue doing that for the future too”, she says.
She shared how they didn’t have to pivot a lot during the pandemic because she was prepared. As far as strategies to expand were concerned, she said that the pandemic required her to get better at demand forecasting, inventory planning, be flexible and accommodating with managing teams and showcase exemplary leadership skills. “We had to be more efficient than ever in terms of our regular way of working”
Making the Pivot: She started using Google ad words recently to make sales happen when the world moved online. These features, she believes, resonate with her brand ethos as well and helped sales during the pandemic.
Besides that, YouTube as a tool is used extensively by her and her team to share content and engage with their community as they feel that it is simple, easy to use, safe and powerful.
Advice to new-age entrepreneurs
Her advice to new age entrepreneurs is to try to solve a problem in the market rather than trying to sell a product. That greatly differentiates the business idea. She firmly believes that one must focus on building their direct-to-consumer efforts stronger than just rely on market places. “One’s own website gives access to a lot of analytical data that is helpful in understanding one’s product and one’s customer,” she says.
Through her venture, Harini aims to strive to continue providing her customers with superior products and ensure great customer delight. She is also looking forward to launching new products, go deeper in the local market and investing in people who can support her in the journey. The team has recently raised $1.2 Million seed funding from Anicut capital. “We still have a long journey ahead”, she signs off.