We always talk about going back to our roots. This often has a cultural context to it, but somehow there’s more to it than that just the cultural connotation. Going back to our roots does not necessarily mean culture or back to our homeland, it also means living a healthier and a more sustainable way of life the way our grandparents and their parents have lived.
I remember when we would visit our ancestral home in Bandel (an hour’s journey by train from Kolkata), my grand uncle would place brass buckets of water out in the garden in the morning sunlight to get warm before a bath.
What could have been healthier than that? Morning sunlight a rich source of Vitamin D-infused in your bath water naturally, free of cost! What a novelty it was for us city kids. We would keep checking the water if it was warm enough since it took some time to heat up in the morning sun.
Also, plastic was never used in the kitchen and there was very little electronic or processed food intervention. Whatever we consumed was locally produced and the fish from the river. Sadly, this remains a story to be told to our future generations.
What I’m trying to get at is that a healthier lifestyle will no longer be an option for us anymore; it will become the need of the hour for both for our health as well as for the environment, and sooner or later we have to make that change.
We think twice before picking up that organic vegetable or that organic soap but never think twice before picking up a fancy outfit from a mall which may be outrageously priced. Well it is all a matter of personal choice and we are no one to comment, but it is worth giving it a second thought.
Here’s one such organisation Rustic Art that strives to achieve this balance of personal health and hygiene with that of the environment. They bring to us some of the freshest and most unique bath, body and home products that are both healing and soothing for us and for the environment. Rustic Art is also one of the leading brands in the concept of ‘bio-laundry’ which is fast catching on in urban India.
We caught up with Swati who along with her aunt Sunita have introduced a greener way of living, a practice that they have been following for years through their eco-venture Rustic Art.
A Communications Consultant by profession 25-year-old Swati Maheshwari had always aspired to work in the media and communication space. After finishing her BBA, she worked in the insurance sector for about a year and then quit to join a postgraduate course that specialised in PR.
While Swati was born in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, she spent her schooling days in Nainital District of Uttarakhand and moved to Pune in 2005. Her business partner, Mrs Sunita Jaju (her mum’s sister) has stayed in Satara since the time she got married. She is a graduate in Sericulture and a Post Graduate in Sustainable Development.
“While I do not have any entrepreneurial roots, my aunt is from a well-established business family in Satara district. Her childhood was spent growing up in the lap of nature around Mysore and being pro-environment she has always encouraged others to go eco-friendly in their lifestyle as well,” says Swati.
“At home, we always used natural alternatives to chemical-based personal care products. For instance, we used soapnut powder to clean our dishes and clothes at home and we wanted to share the goodness of using natural and eco-friendly day-to-day products with others as well. This led us to start Rustic Art in late 2010 with an initial investment of Rs. 5 lakh,” mentions Swati.
Both, Swati and her aunt Sunita did not possess much entrepreneurial experience and this was a great way to start something new! They set out on a very small scale with the help of the market response that kept them moving ahead.
They wanted a name that describes their products the best. While ‘Rustic’ stands for something that is very virgin to the modern world and is rural and pure in its origin and ‘Art’ stands for ‘handmade’ – since these describe the brand and what it stands for, the name Rustic Art was decided upon.
“Many times people have told us that they love our brand name a lot, and that is a proud moment for us,” beams Swati.
What makes Rustic Art unique?
Based on market feedback Swati found that there were not many similar products fitting into their price band that matched their superior quality. She adds, “So we did not face strict competition in that sense. However, we believe that we are here to spread the ‘green’ word and we wish to co-exist with other brands that have a similar offering.”
Rustic Art is not just about the products being eco-friendly. It’s also about their making, packaging and usage being eco-friendly too.
“Our bio-laundry range is such that the used water can be drained in the garden for watering plants. The packaging material that we use is biodegradable and made in cottage industries. The manufacturing of the products is completely handmade, thus no usage of pollution causing machinery,” explains Swati.
Rustic Art outsources their raw materials from a certified organic ingredients producer in Tamil Nadu. All the oils are extracted through the traditional \cold pressed method.
The manufacturing is done in Auroville, which itself is a Central Government Trust where stringent quality checks are a norm.
All products are handmade, hand blended and hand cut by rural women and every batch is checked by Rustic Art before it goes out in the market.
“The journey started with the thought of sharing natural, organic and handmade products of everyday use with others. We had an idea that we could make these products into a brand and launch it in the market. It started with a research of the existing range of similar products. Upon which we realised that no product in our price band was as good in quality as ours. So we knew we had something very unique to offer to a virgin target audience. We also understood we had to tell the story behind the product in its packaging so we spent a lot of time deciding what and how every product needs to look on the exterior. As expected, a lot of people have come back and told us that the packaging speaks for the product and its philosophy,” beams Swati.
There are a lot of products available in the market that sells under the garb of organic or natural. However, if you check the ingredient list, you will see they contain some amount of chemicals.
All the commercial baby oils contain mineral oils, which is a harmful ingredient for the skin. So their idea was not to just set up a business but to encourage people to understand what’s genuine and what’s not. Rustic Art aims to promote an eco-friendly lifestyle by being a part of it.
Organic Paper Soaps are something that catches everyone’s attention. These paper soaps are based on handmade paper and organic soap. So it’s completely eco-friendly plus the paper is biodegradable. It is easier to use and dispose off and does not clog.
“We get inquiries from abroad about the organic paper soap which in itself speaks about its uniqueness,” says Swati.
Bio-laundry is a unique concept. The range is such that it is made of non-edible oils, lemon and Neem extract that are completely biodegradable and the rinsed water can be used to water plants.
It can be used for regular wash and for very delicate fabrics like Silk, Woolen, baby clothes, etc and is available in Flakes and Liquid form.
Bio Laundry Bar can be used to remove the tough stains like grease, turmeric, chocolate, mud, blood etc. It requires very less water to rinse the clothes as the lather formed is very less and thus it is completely natural and soft on clothes, skin and environment.
Since it is free of artificial fillers, enzymes, whiteners, bleaches, it requires very less quantity for a load of clothes to be washed as compared to the regular detergents.
Swati adds, “We market our products through various retail outlets in Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, etc. We also sell through various online stores as well. You can also check out their products on their website as well.
- Organic Soap (24 fragrances) – Rs. 155
- Aloe Vera Gel With Lemon Extract – Rs. 200
- Shampoo (Aloe/ Herbal) – Rs. 290
- Organic Hair Oil – Rs. 290
- Organic Massage Oil – Rs. 250
- Organic Baby Oil (Evoke/ Green Apple) – Rs. 250
- Power Laundry 500gm – Rs. 140
- Little Laundry 500gm – Rs. 160
- Power Laundry 1kg – Rs. 260
- Little Laundry 1kg – Rs. 300
- Bio Laundry Flakes 500gm – Rs. 280
- Bio Laundry Bar – Rs. 75
- Organic Handmade Paper Soap – Rs. 40
* Prices are subject to change.
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