Life & Style

Ranjini Krishnan’s brand of artisanal soaps

Aloe and lavender soap from Body Tree

Aloe and lavender soap from Body Tree   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

She came up with her brand Body Tree to ensure that her newborn son was safe from cosmetics pumped with chemicals

Ranjini Krishnan gets carried away as she describes the process of soap—making, something that she refers to as “therapeutic” —which is why the launch of Body Tree Naturals, her range of handmade organic soaps, became inevitable. While she was aware of how pure ingredients decided the quality of a product, it is with the birth of her son, Niramay, that Ranjini started to pay close attention to what was going into soaps.

“I was part of a parenting group on Facebook and a certain post listing out the number of chemicals that went into the making of a bar of soap caught my eye,” she recalls. That was four years ago.

Now with a loyal customer base, Ranjini’s SLS and paraben-free soaps are available online as well as at select shops in Thiruvananthapuram. Although she began making and selling soaps while in the city, she shifted her production unit to Aluva when she moved to Kochi.

Quality matters

“I want to pay close attention to quality and I don’t think I want to expand. I have two people help me and we make about 800 to 1,000 soaps in a month. There is demand for our products, especially in the US, but I am not sure if I can do more at this point of time. In fact, when there is an order for handmade soaps to be given as gifts for weddings or baby showers, I employ two more people to help with the packaging,” admits Ranjini.

Gift hampers from Body Tree

Gift hampers from Body Tree   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

All her expertise came from watching YouTube videos and through trial and error. The psychology researcher recalls how the first ever batch that she made was an experiment gone wrong. “I watched a tutorial on YouTube and made it without measuring the ingredients,” she says, adding that the process is simple in itself, but requires immense focus and exact quantities. “I invested in a weighing scale, a blender and some steel and glass utensils before trying my next batch.” That was when her son was eight months old and the effort paid off.

She attended a soap-making class to hone her technique and before long, she had gained enough experience to prevent herself from slipping on technicalities. “This was around the time that I was pursuing my doctorate. I loved being absorbed in the exercise of making the soaps so much that I would make a batch of soap every time I completed a chapter of my dissertation.” That’s about 200 bars of soap. A mage soap series indeed.

Ranjani Krishnan

Ranjani Krishnan   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“My shelves, the space under my bed, I had them stored everywhere. I had gifted friends and family, but there was always more because of the rate at which I was making them,” she adds.

The homegrown entrepreneur is still in awe of the chemistry that binds two liquids into a solid. “I was in awe of how two liquids could come together to form a solid where you could control the fragrance and the colour,” she explains.

Speaking of fragrance, that is something she leaves out of her soap for newborns. Ranjini adds that she receives many queries from new mothers asking why her soaps for babies are unscented. She elaborates: “It is true that certain essential oils have anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties but newborns are hardly exposed to any pollution so they don’t need cleansing to that extent. Soap without fragrance takes a little getting used to.”

Wide range

Her regular range, however, leaves one spoilt for choice with aloe and lavender, coconut milk and honey, papaya, pure butter, soaps with a mix of calming oils like vetiver, patchouli and cedar wood, blends of cinnamon, coffee and more. Priced from ₹200 upwards, Ranjini says that the pricing is an aspect she has to explain to customers because the fragrant oils are quite expensive. A team leader with Sahapedia, Ranjini says there was a time when her family wondered if she would be able to make time for her new-found passion. She prides herself on Body Tree’s USP – all-natural ingredients that are easy to understand by the customer.

Lip balm with bee wax and mango butter and Choco honey lip scrub from Body Tree

Lip balm with bee wax and mango butter and Choco honey lip scrub from Body Tree   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“Pick any of our packages and check the ingredients, there is nothing there that would be unfamiliar to the layman. Soaps don’t need as many chemicals as is seen on regular brands of mass produced soaps. I’m proud to say that our products have a short shelf life.”

The packaging, according to Ranjini, is “90 per cent biodegradable” save for a thin film of plastic used to wrap the soap bars. “It is a niggling factor for me as using anything else will lead to the glycerine mixing with the air, which then affects the texture. I’m looking out for alternatives.”

Ranjini is also experimenting with dusting powders, lip balms, scrubs, cleansers and masks to expand the range under Body Tree. Her soaps are available at Lumiere Organic Store and Sarwaa lifestyle store in the city.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 11:26:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/ranjini-krishnans-brand-of-artisanal-soaps/article24530522.ece

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