Tanja: Welcome to the “Giving back is the new luxury” interview series, featuring Swiss-based women entrepreneurs who are role models in creating a sustainable business with positive environmental and social impact.
Anju, it is a pleasure to welcome you as the first woman in this series! Thank you for taking the time to talk about Abhati Suisse www.abhatisuisse.com and your ongoing non-profit engagement. With Abhati and it’s B-Corp certification, you show it’s possible to create a business providing exceptional skin and hair care, while respecting the environment and having a social impact.
Can you start by telling us about Abhati’s vision and why you chose the name Abhati, which means “shine” in Sanskrit?
Anju: Sure. We want to bring an exceptional, unisex beauty range to our clients, while nurturing the communities that provide the potent botanical ingredients through supporting them with fair wages, education initiatives and reforestation projects. Using Abhati products means you are helping to make the world more beautiful too. We chose the name Abhati as the people in the regions where the botanical ingredients are made in the western Himalaya area of Punjab have such glowing skin and hair.
Tanja: How long did it take you to get strarted? What would you do differently if you were starting the journey today?
Anju: I needed a few days to do the business plan and we funded the initial amount on Indiegogo. It then took about 3 years to bring the product to market as it took around 1.5 years to clean the soil. If starting today I would have a slower pace initially and develop the impact part of the model more gradually.
Tanja: Do you feel the Swiss environment for startups is more supportive today than when you founded Abhati and can you give some examples?
Anju: It seems to be very trendy right now to start a company and I have a sense people may not be fully aware of what is involved. It also seems there are much fewer women taking the entrepreneurial route then men. I am now also involved with the Entrepreneurs Organisation www.eonetwork.org
Tanja: How you create balance between being an entrepreneur and your private life?
Anju: Abhati embodies my values, skillset and beliefs – I live and breathe it and feel aligned and in balance.
Tanja: What are the top 3 skills you believe a woman needs to be a successful entrepreneur and what are the 3 biggest challenges likely to be faced?
Anju: The qualities of leadership, empathy and trust would be my top three. The three challenges I have experienced are: recognizing when, with whom and how to collaborate to take the business to the next level; finding investors and retailers that understand the “impact” part of the business and the ability to exercise patience.
Tanja: What has been the biggest gift on your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Anju: The opportunity to pay forward, to invest in making a difference in people’s lives and supporting non-profit organisations such as WeForest (www.weforest.org) and Educate Girls (www.educategirls.ngo)
Tanja: What is one of your favourite spaces to meet in Zurich?
Anju: Bar Am Wasser
Tanja: Thanks so much for sharing your insights with us Anju and we wish you all the very best with Abhati!
Note to readers: Anju is kindly offering WeSpace newsletter subscribers 25% off your first Abahti online order – please find the PROMO code in the next WeSpace Newsletter. My favourite Abhati product is the Mahanadi lip balm, which Anju is offering as a free gift for your first online order. Enjoy!