Inspired by the sheer grit and gumption of the Pahadi women farmers, anchored to the natural miracles of the Himalayas and envisioning a world of wellness, Pravin Shah & Shweta Shah founded The Pahadi Story in October 2020, and this is the second venture of the couple duo. The aim to bring natural and authentic products from the Himalayas along with empowering Pahadi women farmers of Almora, and other districts of Uttarakhand.
Abhishansa Mathur was in conversation with Pravin Shah who believes in natural authentic products and founded The Pahadi Story to bring out the best of the Himalayas to the urban market.
Where did it all begin for you?
Around October 2019, we were there in Uttarakhand and right in the middle of the Himalayas that's when it all began for me and my wife Shweta. We were really inspired by seeing women farmers. We were also inspired by the food that we had there, it was very natural stuff. Then, we thought that we could do something for the women and we could also bring these lovely products to the urban market, which are natural wellness products. That's how we thought about 'The Pahadi Story' in October 2019. After a year in October 2020, we finally launched the brand.
Can you tell us something about yourself?
I have been an entrepreneur all my life. My first venture was Big Brand Theory which is still there. My wife, from the past ten years, has been contributing to the various areas of the business. While I am the mind and the driver, she is the heart of the business. So, we have created this enterprise together, which is our second venture.
Can you walk us through your journey so far?
Everything is a dream and ours was to create an enterprise that balances purpose and profit. We wanted to empower women farmers so we enrolled them and started brainstorming with them. We realized some challenges too. Firstly, the skills to understand the urban market. They had raw materials but it was not if any use unless they could understand the requirements of an urban market. So, we gathered a team and got food scientists and technologists to meet these challenges.
During the lockdown, we were sitting in the Himalayas where there is Himalayan Tulsi, Himalayan Turmeric which is famous all over the world. So, we thought of why not creating a blend that focuses on building immunity. That's how it all began with our two products which were Himalayan Kadha and Himalayan Haldi Mix. These products picked up very well. We also did consumer testing on friends, family. Some of them actually hate Kadha because they had a notion that it tastes very bad. We provided a blend of lovely aroma to it, and that worked.
We also faced challenges in terms of the supply chain because the products were being made in the hilly areas where access is sometimes difficult. The distance between Mumbai to where we have our unit is almost a 12 to 13-hour journey. So, accessibility was the problem that we overcame gradually. During the festive season of 2020 in October, we launched the products and got a good number of orders. People wanted to gift these products, so that's why we also named our campaign, 'Arogya Sukh'.
Tell us how you source your raw materials for your products? How do you manage from Mumbai?
We have our procurement team which is right there. We have set a small unit in Almora where the products are made. So, our team remains in contact with the 15 to 20 women farmers who grow raw materials for us. This way, we have our own Tulsi, Turmeric, and other natural ingredients. So, we are looking at a limited production but those are natural and absolutely chemical-free. So, everything is being done there including packaging. However, the distribution process takes place in Mumbai.
What are some challenges that you faced while running The Pahadi Story?
Apart from the challenges I mentioned in our journey, another big challenge is how to market. Our focus has always been on being a B2C brand. Since we are a digital brand, we receive enquiries through this only. So, the focus is on being Direct to consumer brand.
What according to you makes The Pahadi Story stand out amongst other brands?
Our intent. Nobody can copy an "intent". If you read any of our Instagram posts or website, we say that we are an "act of compassion". A lot of people reply to us saying that it is a "wonderful story" and that they too want to support the initiative. Hence, we are not a brand but a small movement and an initiative that is going to create some impact in the future.
Also, very few brands go to the mountains to start a venture. But we can proudly say that we are from the Himalayas. We often use a term very proudly on our social media and other platforms which is "Pure Pahadi". That we are natural. We don't want to do anything which is processed or which has chemical or any preservative. Our products are 100% natural.
How are you using Social Media to promote your homegrown brand?
Social media is our go-to platform. Especially, Instagram is working very well for us. We try to connect people through our stories which tells them that the products are natural and chemical-free. Women reach us with their demands of products for hair and other things. We are getting product ideas from people who are following us. So, the organic reach is what we are also looking for in the future. We are also looking at 'digital outreach' and 'influencer tie-ups from those who really like our products.
What is your 5-year plan for The Pahadi Story?
Well, right now we have an 18-month plan and have a 24-month view. There is an idea, a story, and a belief and we are following these. So, there is no 5-year plan as such.
Though, we want to create a product line of 100 items which we are working on. Right now, we have around 50 times on our website. The second step is to reach the US and UK as those are the markets where we also get enquiries from. Probably, we would also explore for ourselves in the retail market stores. So, we want to be a global brand, at least in 24 months, for sure.
Can you share your business model with us?
It is very simple. We work with women farmers and most of our business happens through Instagram. We have added products on Amazon so, they are also supporting us. We are not in any physical store right now. It's only digital and we are trying to be a big B2C brand.
Any advice/suggestion you’d like to give aspiring entrepreneurs out there.
My only advice would be to follow your dreams. If you have an idea just go with it. Things will automatically fall into place.
If you are someone who takes care of their wellness, they recommend you try their Kadha and Haldi mix.