Women in Action

Soap opera

Mannem Sindhu Madhuri on her line of natural and organic products

She is a writer and the owner of a line of handmade soaps, shampoo bars, hair oils and face creams made with natural ingredients. Mannem Sindhu Madhuri owns ‘Kalapi Naturals’ that sources its raw materials from organic farmers in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh. “Kalapi means peacock. It is known for its natural beauty. My products are natural, ” she smiles.

The 46-year-old who has published 70 short stories in Telugu and Kannada says one of them is called Kalapi. That became so famous that people started calling her “Kalapi” Sindhu. “That is also why I chose this name for my brand.”

Born in Gangavathi town of Koppal district in Karnataka, she relocated to Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, her ancestral home. Her foray into her line of skin care products began when a young girl in her family had severe skin allergy and was prohibited from eating dairy products, nuts, non-vegetarian food and almost all of her favourites. Still, there was no relief. Sindhu did some research and learnt that soaps and shampoos could cause skin allergies. “I was reminded of sunni pindi, the home-made herbal bath powder my grandmother used as a scrub to cleanse and make our skin softer. We used the same powder for the girl and the allergy disappeared.”

Sindhu pursued a diploma in cosmetology from Butic Institute. She researched for over a year on where and how to source natural and organic ingredients from, to produce ‘safe’ cosmetics. She then took up a six-month cold process soap-making course offered online by popular soap maker Ariane Arsenault.

She ordered soap moulds from China and began making them out of her home. “I started in a small way. I would make a kilo of soap and distribute half of it as samples to people requesting them to give their feedback.” Despite money constraints, she distributed soaps worth ₹6 lakh as samples and her efforts paid off as people started coming back to her. Later she added shampoo bars, hair oils, face cream and bath power to her collection.

Her confidence grew and she enrolled with Udyog Aadhaar, a Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises initiative that offers tax exemptions and subsidies to entrepreneurs. “But I wanted to reach out to a wider client base by selling my products through an online platform like Amazon for which I needed drugs and cosmetics license.”

She ran from pillar to post . “The application had 120 pages but I was not ready to give up.” As luck would have it, she was at a women entrepreneurs’ meeting attended by the then Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.

“That did the trick and I got my license within the next few days.”

Today Sindhu’s products are available at local supermarkets and online. She is also exporting to The Netherlands and is in talks with a few firms in Latin American countries, who are currently trying out her samples.

P. Sujatha Varma

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 8:01:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/specials/women-in-action/soap-opera/article31033911.ece

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