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Hailing from a family of entrepreneurs, Hemangi Dhir was introduced to the “business life” early on in life. Her grandfather established the family’s clothing business from ground up, with no outside help or investment.

Hemangi Dhir

After completing her bachelor’s in business administration from the Moore School of Business in the US, Hemangi returned to India to follow a stable path in the corporate financial industry.

She started her career as a financial services consultant with Ernst & Young and went on to work at a real estate company as Executive of Finance. Post her stint with finance, Hemangi joined her family business in the garment industry as the Partner of Finance and Marketing.

Little did she know then that a ritual she saw her grandmother and aunt would diligently follow in a few years, would make her switch tracks and become an entrepreneur.

“My paternal grandmother and aunt’s fixation with skincare attracted me when I was a teenager. When I returned home from school, I’d witness them applying a freshly created DIY face mask. My grandmother also only shopped from three brands: La Prairie, Shehnaz Hussain, and La Mer. She’d never seen a dermatologist or a doctor about their skin problems,” she says.

Also, in 2019, Hemangi suffered from numerous skin problems that caused her skin to flare up for a long period. She tried everything — from dermatologists to a 10-step skincare programme, as well as advice from friends and family, but the chemicals in all the products just made her skin worse.

She eventually began researching natural skin care ingredients and discovered that every chemical element had a natural counterpart. She began preparing DIY packs and formulas in her kitchen, which treated her skin troubles and taught her that the answer to all your skin problems can be found in nature, and that skincare is all about employing potent yet skin-loving natural components.

This led her to launch botnal, an all-natural, botanical, and sustainable skincare brand, in 2021.

“I want to educate people about the importance of using targeted skincare products. I feel that you should not use a product until you have been educated on its features and benefits. Each product in Botnal’s portfolio is targeted towards particular skincare issues,” she says.

Targeted towards specific issues

Hemangi points out that India’s wellness industry is saturated with serums at present. In the market, however, there is a lack of understanding of essences. As a result, Botnal used the Blue Ocean Strategy (the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open up a new market space and create new demand) to raise awareness about this market sector and develop products that provide specific solutions using natural components.

Hemangi explains, “One feature that sets us apart to address the above mentioned opportunity is that each of our products are made using a unique natural ingredient. When we began researching natural skin care ingredients, we discovered that every chemical element had a natural counterpart. Therefore, we started working with skin experts to develop natural blends and formulations that were suitable for all skin types.”

She adds that the team went through a meticulous procedure to ensure that each ingredient was procured naturally and locally.

Made with natural ingredients

With Botnal, Hemangi also wanted to start a community where each skin type is catered to, and every individuality in skin care is recognized.

Each product in the Botnal portfolio is made using at least one unique natural ingredient. Some of its key ingredients include Bakuchiol, pomegranate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Uva-Ursi, Gingko Biloba, Seaweed, Licorice Root, Evening Primrose, Green Tea Extract, Orange Extract, Aloe Vera, Argan Oil, Shea Butter, Prickly Pear, Apricot Kernel, and vitamin E

According to Hemangi, the products are devoid of harsh and toxic ingredients and are formulated with natural ingredients that are lab-tested, unique, and effective, to heal your skin naturally, making them suitable for all skin types and for pregnant women. All ingredients are biodegradable and sourced locally. The products are also cruelty-free because none of the finished products or materials are tested on animals.

The product range includes a Berry Booster, Boozy Bear, beard softener, Forty Winks night cream, Garden Apertif Blemish Essence, Gumica cleansing butter, Kare Taker neck cream, On The Rocks detox serum, Ying Yang Drops hydrating and plumping essence.

Botnal has partnered with an FDA-approved cosmeceutical producer based in Delhi for production.

“Our ingredients are inspected for quality and stored in shelves or boxes. Following that, all formulas are run via a digital machine to eliminate human error in ingredient quantities. Our team subsequently mixes the formulations and transfers them to conveyor belts. Finally, each product is bottled, labeled, packaged, and sealed separately. Our quality control expert double-inspections the entire procedure and performs quality checks on a regular basis. At the manufacturing office, our Botnal staff also conducts random checks,” she says.

Botnal works with a lean three-person team consisting of Hemangi, a cosmetic chemist, and a skincare enthusiast.

“We work in a structured manner, with me creating the formulations and sharing them with the cosmetic chemist. The cosmetic chemist will now provide advice and recommendations to ensure that the compositions are stable. After the formula is authorised, each sample is subjected to stability and stress tests. Before they are sold, these products are also individually tested by each of us,” she adds.

Botnal’s target audience is both national and global. It includes anyone, male or female, who wish to use skincare products from the age of 18 to 65.

Entirely bootstrapped, Botnal follows both online and offline models. As of now, the products are available for purchase at Modern Bazaar (Select Citywalk), Hair We R Chattarpur, Nykaa (coming soon), Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra (coming soon), Trell, and Mind & Mom, as well as on the brand website – www.botnal.com. It is priced between Rs 299-799.

Hemangi says the idea is also to promote skim minimalism, which is not only good for the skin but also for the environment.

“Fewer products imply less sensitive exposure, less money spent on unnecessary things, and, most importantly, less wastage. We encourage you to concentrate on using the bare minimum of products to maintain your skin looking healthy and youthful. Moreover, we strive to lower the carbon footprint by employing reusable and recyclable packaging,” she says.

Some of its competitors include Be Ilana, Dot & Key, and Tula Skincare.

Hemangi believes Covid-19 has greatly changed the perception of skincare enthusiasts in the last two years. People are now willing to try products that help them address targeted skin issues.

“There is also an upward movement in customer self-awareness, which has contributed towards the skincare industry’s growth. The fact that the market is currently saturated is our biggest hurdle. Furthermore, because our products are nice, consumer education is essential,” she says.

In the next two years, Botnal is looking to launch 48 products with unique ingredients in the range, for men, women and children. It will also be developing a range designed exclusively for children and men.