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IN CONVERSATION WITH KAVITA KHOSA

— Jasmeen Dugal

'I was an accidental lawyer. I am a woman of the soil, conscious of my environment and lifestyle choices. I wanted to re-connect with the earth and with my roots in India, which led to founding luxury skincare brand PureEarth as a social venture, putting our planet and people over profit!' I felt like Alice tumbling down the proverbial rabbit hole when Kavita Khosa, Founder Creative Director, PureEarth shared her vision and extensive time spent in the Himalayas. Initially for research on raw and super foods, foraged millets, seeds and oils. The farmers and NGOs she worked with also made pure skincare like salves, balms, scrubs and oils. Eventually she decided to harness the potency of wild harvested herbs, seeds, roots, plants, and flowers, ancient Ayurvedic principles and indigenous knowledge in her luxury skincare and wellness brand in partnership with women and community based groups i.e. custodians of the rare natural ingredients in the formulations. I thought it only fitting to pass the love to you!

 

Tell us about yourself, Kavita. What inspired you to diversify from Wall Street lawyer and Director, Deutsche Bank to the artisanal skincare and wellness space?

 

I suppose I was an accidental lawyer. I'm an earth child, conscious of my environment and lifestyle choices. And I'm sensitive to the plight of the less fortunate. I wanted to re-connect with the earth, with my roots in India and that led to my founding Purearth as a social venture, putting our planet and people over profit. The healing wisdom of Ayurveda is pretty much lost today. It's my intention to revive ancient and bring recipes and modalities, and indigenous knowledge, into the mainstream skincare and wellness space.The pristine Himalayan valleys abundant in rare medicinal botanicals, and the simple indigenous womenfolk, were my inspiration behind founding Purearth. 

 

Do tell us more about your social enterprise model and about your firm's 'fair trade not aid' commitment and micro-credit programming.

 

I work with micro credit savings, women self-help groups and co- operatives across the Himalayan belt to source our botanicals at fair trade prices and plough back profits into the communities through our Pure Purpose Foundation. We have built forty eco- toilets with Grassroots Foundation in the Gagas river basin, Himalayas and around twenty- six eco- toilets supporting the gram panchayat in the adivasi schools in Khed Maharashtra.

 

How challenging is it to make holistic, Ayurveda-inspired formulas that deliver texture, fragrance and results in sync with today's demanding consumer standard?

 

Challenging indeed but pure magic at the same time. Working in rhythm with mother nature and the seasons means embracing changes in colour, fragrance and potency of seasonal harvests. Oils and butters in non- RBD [refined, bleached, deodorised] raw unprocessed form is a challenge when formulating with them as they impact the final smell, colour, viscosity and stability. Consistency is key, and a fine balance, that is a challenge to achieve. I have formally studied Ayurveda and organic cosmetic science which helps immensely in delivering high performance formulations. Our solar-infused in-house Ayurvedic macerations and decoctions with certified botanicals are a classic in all my formulations. that are synergistically composed with quality ingredients that offer elegant texture and feel that tick stringent green, clean and ethical checkboxes… though I must admit that some of our potent fragrances like the supercritical CO2 extracted Seabuckthorn Berry Oil is too tart for me; it only appeals to acquired noses. Awareness is key and I always encourage my clients to read the label and ingredient INCI list. Botanical actives, while they may take longer to show results, are the safer option for us and our planet.

 

What is your recipe development process? And what is your process for creating a new product?

 

I spend around two hours a day studying and researching the scientific and Ayurvedic properties of ingredients. We are developing a physical sunscreen at this time and it starts with thorough research. I have two full time R&D chemists in-house and we brainstorm about the choice of ingredients and trailing proprietary formulations from scratch in our studio lab. We ensure, for example, that our emulsifiers are vegan, so no beeswax, no palm, no GMO corn and no soy. It is vital that we adhere to the ethos and values that the brand has been built on. No synthetics, no carbomers, no silicones, no phenoxyethanol, no glycols and no questionable ingredients. I believe skincare is akin to skin food and depending on molecular weight, many ingredients cross the skin barrier and can enter the bloodstream. Ensuring zero-wastage and low carbon footprint, our formulas are then judiciously hand blended in micro batches and go through stability and challenge tests before being launched in the market. All our creations are hand filled in French violet- glass apothecary jars and bottles that are designed to protect the bio- active energy of our precious ingredients.

 

What is your approach to preservation?

 

All water- based formulations must be preserved to ensure they are safe for the duration of the shelf life of a creation. We go painstaking lengths to consciously source plant derived, non palm, non GMO gentle and safe ECOCERT certified preservatives that we import from Germany and which allow us to label the product as preservative free. Natural food grade ingredients like sodium benzoate in 0.02 per cent in some formulations work well to boost the function of preservatives. Besides that, potent oils and herbs like amalaki, neem and rosemary help naturally preserve formulations.
 

Personally speaking, what's the best business advice that you've received?

 

I'm an idealist and a reluctant entrepreneur as I have come to realise. I am happiest formulating, handling creatives and spending time studying, researching and writing. But I happen to be the CEO of the brand and have to be hands- on on the business side of things. A piece of advice that I've taken onboard is to remind myself that supporting livelihoods and income generation is only possible if the business is commercially successful.

 

What are your future goals for the artisanal skincare and wellness brand?

 

Working more on projects and initiatives with Pure Purpose Foundation. I just adopted a koala named Hockey Luna at a koala hospital in Australia this morning. It's a stark reminder of the devastating effects of greed, climate change, micro- plastics and more. We recently launched our ‘Get Give Grow' recycling program to plant trees for each bottle returned and I want to build more eco- toilets this year. Transparency and traceability is key. We partnered with Provenance, a London-based digital platform that enables brands to audit and verify their claim of transparency, accountability and sustainability through a stringent verification process using block- chain technology. Use less, make it last! I'm excited about inclusive beauty and reaching out to millennials, Gen X and Y, LGBTQQAO. Lastly, ensuring our products are kosher, vegan and inclusive of religion, caste, creed and colour.

 

As an advocate of conscious consumption, what would you tell someone — who has never engaged oneself in nature- inspired skincare — an important reason to switch? 

 

We are witnessing a paradigm shift in consumer consciousness and a desire for clean beauty and wellness. We are only just coming to terms with the devastating effects of chemically laden agri- product, toxic chemicals in skincare. As global citizens, never have we seen a more relevant time and need to embrace the principles of ancient wisdom, indigenous knowledge, Ayurveda and TCM in beauty and wellness rituals. Conscious consumers today want to explore and discover ancient modalities. One of the good things about the Internet is access to information; there is a deeper awareness of the harmful effects of synthetics and a paradigm shift towards green clean skincare. My vision is to be an agent of change in this space and to bring awareness though Purearth as a platform and a step towards conscious consumption. Teaching people that ethical buying it is supporting fair trade and sustainable practices that are not just good for us, but for the people and the planet.

 

Since you are an avid traveller, do share some essential skincare routines when travelling.

 

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Travelling is exhausting. The change of environment and temperature can confuse and disturb your skin's microflora.
 

Apart from drinking fluids to keep yourself hydrated, you will also need quality, clean skin food to keep it nourished, nurtured and cared for. Apply light moisturisers which have quick absorbing emollients like PureEarth Rose And Seabuck Replenishing Face Cream. Seaberry or Rosehip supercritical oils, high in essential fatty acids will keep the skin hydration locked in without making it oily or greasy. Purearth Sambac Botanical Mist is a perfect refreshment — spritz some on your face to quench parched thirsty skin.
 

Next, drink up!! If you love herbal teas, I recommend adding my absolute favorite Purearth Wild Rosehip And Mint Tea Infusion to your routine! Mint is soothing, cooling and helps digestion and Rosehip is chockfull of anti-oxidants to help fight free radicals and prevent sun damage.
 

What you eat will reflect on your skin. For glowing clear skin, opt for organic green leafies, salads, fresh fruits and power foods like chia seeds, flax seeds, goji berries and blue berries; just about all berries can transform skin during the summer and protect it from sun damage. Eating organic non-GMO foods go that extra mile to keep your skin and body feeling healthy. Including organic raw foods are a good option for the summer as it keeps your body hydrated.
 

Get into your skin. You’ve got to love your skin for it to love you back! The basic cleanse-tone-moisturise regimen is a must during travels. Look in your kitchen for skin food. Cleanse with milk. Honey is a fab humectant so mix it with ground oats and fullers earth as a face mask for clean, clear bright skin. Mash bananas and add yoghurt to whip up a face mask that not just hydrates the skin but also keep sun damage at bay. I polish my face at least twice a week with PureEarth Turmeric Exfoliating Face Sand to clear the build-up of gunk, dead skin cells and wipe traces of oil, dirt and grime from my face. I trust Camomila Eye Serum; it's so refreshing and literally calms tired, exhausted eyes — very good for brightening the eye area.
 

Detox. Vacay's over, what next? Eliminating the travel toxins, foreign pollutants and dirt and grime build up! Opt for natural raw and least processed foods, full of enzymes and easy on the system. Eat local. Processed foods hamper metabolism and cause you and your skin to become sluggish. Exercising and sweating is one of the best ways to eliminate toxins from the body. Yoga, long walks or a run will work wonders to eliminate toxins from your body. Oil pulling is trending right now but it's an ancient method of getting rid of unhealthy bacteria and toxins from your body. Swish cold pressed oil in your mouth first thing in the morning for clear breath and a firmer jawline!
 

PURE EARTH
Kavita Khosa, Founder Creative Director, PureEarth
 
26-JANUARY-2020
 
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