Akshi Oil was founded by Amishi Kothari, who has an education in commerce and certificates from Fragrance and Flavor Centre India and Perfumers World, Bangkok.
She is an avid follower of Ayurveda, has lived in Ayurveda centres of healing and worked with a Vaid for many years dealing with patient problems. Herbs, spices, extracts are all a part of her daily life and upbringing, living the natural way always.
Her homegrown traditional recipes with the infusion of newly available extracts, Chinese herbs, essential oils led her to share with the world pure and effective remedial oils for all ages.
Amishi was always making oils at home and providing to family and friends while having vast experience with kids due to following her other passion of teaching for many years.
Getting kids excited to oil and gain benefits from it, helping them at a young age to develop motor skills, build immunity became her passion.
Please describe your startup, Akshi Oil.
Akshi Oil was launched in Diwali 2016 with the idea of spreading wellness that comes the natural way.
The beauty industry was at its peak, but what was much needed was simple – pure mediums of maintaining healthy skin and hair, a much prolific tradition of India.
With the markets being full of chemical-based products, it was important to reintroduce natural, low-cost products, but in an appealing way. Thus came about the idea of Akshi Oils – pure, cold pressed and handmade.
What does it offer and why is it unique?
Akshi Oil offers a boutique of products from hair oil, massage oil, bath oil, oils for kids in fragrances like strawberry, chocolate and more, never heard before!
All products are packed in a way ready for gifting. The prices of all products are affordable with no compromise on quality.
What inspired your achievements?
In a wardrobe full of chemical-based products it was satisfying to see Akshi take up some space in peoples’ homes.
Kids turning towards our tradition of oiling happily after an era of giving up this tried and tested routine.
People coming back with reviews, like no stretch marks on applying Akshi Oil, acidity issues cured with Akshi rose water, kept inspiring to continue this work.
What are some challenges that you faced initially when you started out? Please share specific examples with advice to other women on overcoming their challenges?
Resourcing good quality material and then sticking to the vendor built on trust took some initial trial and error.
Also with Akshi, we faced issues of couriering liquids all over India – so we had to search for good courier companies who were ready to do that.
Also resourcing our material from remote organic farms has issues of transport. Slowly we managed to overcome these.
People here are more prone to pay in cash or vendors also want cash, which took some firmness to change their minds. Eventually, the vendors agreed to online payments, account transfers, and so on.
Whenever you will have to break a trend, remain firm in your ground. It will take time, so be patient. The excellence of your work will show results.
Every trend has two sides – the spa industry boasts of new solutions through chemicals but the wellness industry also raises the bar with organic, natural solutions.
Do not get lured into spending huge amounts in the initial phase of your startup on advertising and marketing: go for free options on social media, Whatsapp, email, word of mouth.
What are all the things that an entrepreneur needs to keep in mind? Apart from your great idea, what do you need to be armed with?
Entrepreneurs in this field have to keep in mind timely delivery and proper packaging, good storage conditions will play a big role in keeping the natural products in their original form.
All pure chemical free products have a limited shelf life in comparison to their chemical base counterparts, so good storage conditions will ensure no change in quality.
One needs to keep reinventing, introducing options for various issues clients have. One needs to keep acquiring knowledge of essential oils and be ready to experiment.
Did you have a mentor to guide you through your journey? In your opinion, what does a mentor bring to the table?
When I attended the course from fragrance and flower development centre, Kannauj, I met Sir Shakti Vinay Shukla.
He is a pioneer in this field but besides that is encouraging entrepreneurship in this field and provides all ideas and support for us in this industry.
He has tied up with the government to provide all help to MSMEs and startups all support for this industry to grow. He is always available to reply to your queries however minuscule.
A mentor not only brings his experience but also builds a bridge to the future. He understands the inner workings and associates them with the organized sector.
He makes sure the industry flourishes while giving support to new entrepreneurs. He can always see the bigger picture and keep you from repeating mistakes. He trusts the process while all may not and that keeps you going.
How did you recruit your first team? What advice do you have for building and nurturing teams in your startup?
Akshi Oil was founded on the basis of the belief that any woman can do and support herself provided she is ready to give some time. So it was obvious we were looking for hardworking women.
Surprisingly, we found young girls who loved the concept and were ready to work for this with nominal pays initially for the creative and marketing section. It was by word of mouth, that we slowly recruited labour.
Go for people who believe in your work, they will take out time as a passion and not as a job. Take time out to teach your work, share your knowledge, it definitely helps build a team who can work when you aren’t available, to handle solely any job.
Please describe some successes and failures you have experienced as an entrepreneur.
It’s been very satisfying to serve clients consistently for two years who come back for your products with positive reviews and results. It is also gratifying to have the same team handle stuff from the time you began.
It’s a time saver and increases productivity. They grow with you so it’s a happiness feeling shared by all. You are not the sole owner of your business, they are contributors to the success as a team.
It is surprising that conversion rates from social media marketing aren’t as satisfying as other mediums although it builds a great awareness of your work. So any business that depends on social media marketing is going to have to look for options otherwise to support.
What are 3 key lessons that you have learned as an entrepreneur?
Cost cutting, budgeting from the very beginning will play a major role in your survival longevity in your field. Do not go by the wave to that extent expecting high returns. Streamline your expenditures and wait for the right time.
Resourcing quality material and henceforth building a trustworthy relationship with the source will ensure great output, timely delivery, prove cost-effective.
Keep enhancing your knowledge along with your goals, do not stop learning, innovating. It is time-consuming but worth the effort as people see you in more ways than just a business person.