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Female Disruptors: Purvi Desai of Zaaina On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

“Be ready to pivot”. Every entrepreneur wakes up with an idea and a strong belief that that’s the one. The challenges and obstacles begin when you start working on that idea. It’s very important to know how and when to pivot during the process. During our journey, we felt very strongly about many of our initial branding and products. The best approach we took was to give a timeline for each concept, measure the progress, and make a decision to pivot or scrap.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Purvi Desai.

Purvi Desai grew up in India and was taught at a very early age to adopt a lifestyle that promotes wellness in all areas of life. Having a strong interest and passion in beauty care, Purvi realized that there was a strong need for bath and beauty products made with simple yet effective ingredients. While retail shelves were filled with hundreds of products, none of the formulas were helping with her skin issues. So, she created Zaaina Skincare, a product line made with ingredients anyone can enjoy.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Growing up in a middle-class family in the late 1970s and early 1980s in India, I was surrounded by women who were all boundlessly very creative. I was raised in a family who strongly believed in a holistic approach whether it was the food we were consuming or the products we were using.

Growing up, there were far less options available in the market for beauty care products. The limited products available were reserved for the affluent, so my mother would make homemade hair oils, body creams, and face packs using only raw kitchen ingredients such as honey, turmeric, oils, and herbs.

The importance of using natural products came in handy when I was facing my own skin issues in college. When I saw the difference it made, I quickly realized that there are many people just like me who need products that are safe and effective.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

When we buy any product and try to read through the list of ingredients, we typically don’t comprehend what we are putting on our bodies. We love going to the Farmers Market on the weekends because we know the products are made with the most natural ingredients without any preservatives or chemicals. When we saw an initial success selling at local farmers markets, we knew it was time to make a change.

Etsy has effortlessly become a household name because consumers know the products they are purchasing are made with care. Our growth is 100% organic, and we have a very high return customer rate only because we believe our customers deserve products that are safe and effective.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Our first 3 products we launched became an instant success. The products were made out of my own necessity, and it did the same for others. We were constantly told how unique our products are and how customers are loving them. We started becoming more creative and came up with unique blends, assuming they would also become an instant hit. We started making soaps, face masks, and creams with coffee, chocolate, beer, and wine. We thought customers would love the new concept, but they actually hated the scents!

People instead loved our premium quality essential oils found in the products. It was a lesson learned!

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Even though skin care has been my lifelong passion and I always was very curious to learn more, I received my degree in Finance. Although I was in the corporate world, I was continuously learning about beauty products to try or testing out DIY recipes at home.

My journey would have not started if Linda Curry, a local herbalist, didn’t come into my life. When I decided to launch my products, I had absolutely no idea about how and where to begin. When I reached out to many local herbalists and holistic practitioners, Linda was the one who replied! She agreed to show me how she was infusing oils and creating her creams. She showed me many aspects of how to get the products ready for customers and took me to the farmers market with her. She has been a great mentor; she showed me how to take baby steps so eventually I could run.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

In my opinion, being disruptive is good and bad, it depends on the situation you are in. Speaking about today’s parlance, we have witnessed many concepts like Etsy, Uber, Airbnb, Twitter, and many more, which has truly disrupted the way people think.

When it comes to the positive aspects, the wellness industry has changed the way people think. Consumers are much more aware of how they want to lead their lifestyle, what products to use, and are much more knowledgeable about the market.

We also live in the time where we see many more success stories, whether it’s a social media sensation or YouTube vlogger with millions of followers. While it can be an inspirational story for many, for others it could feel disheartening.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

(1) “Be ready to pivot”. Every entrepreneur wakes up with an idea and a strong belief that that’s the one. The challenges and obstacles begin when you start working on that idea. It’s very important to know how and when to pivot during the process. During our journey, we felt very strongly about many of our initial branding and products. The best approach we took was to give a timeline for each concept, measure the progress, and make a decision to pivot or scrap.

(2) “Don’t expect good results overnight”. It is very stressful and frustrating when you don’t have enough funding, the right resources, and much needed mentorship. But it’s important to remember Rome wasn’t built in a day and good results take time. We fall down and get back up again!

(3) “Work on your one thing” It’s very easy to get distracted, especially when we are surrounded by so many other businesses who are doing exceptionally well. Focusing on one thing at a time with persistence and perseverance is the best thing you can do to yourself and your dream.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We still have a long way to go before we can even think we are done. We will continue to come up with more unique products which will change the way people look at skincare.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

As an entrepreneur, initial challenges seem to be the same for both. We have many women disruptors who have already broken that stigma, but still women disruptors have to work harder and must have more achievements on their resume to be taken seriously.

I do believe mom disruptors are faced by a lot more challenges compared to dad disruptors. As a mompreneur, there are countless challenges and struggles on a daily basis like “mommy guilt,” poor self-care, finding balance, and managing many other things along with growing business.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

My all-time favorite podcast is How I Built This with Guy Raz. Listening to each story feels like someone is narrating my own journey. Guy has an absolutely amazing story telling technique. There are many stories which have made a deep impact on my thinking, but the most impactful episodes were Spanx, Life is Good, Larabar, & Airbnb. When you listen to each episode, it provides you with a background on how these amazing founders came up with the idea for their business, as well as the struggle they had to go through to make it a success. They sum up their life story into a 60 minute podcast, but when you think about their story it makes you keep working hard till you reach your goal.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would inspire people to do what truly makes them happy, dream big, and not give up until you get what you want.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My all-time favorite life lesson quote is “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” We all have dreams and whether we want to admit it or not, dreams come with a price tag. Some are driven enough to make it happen and the rest settle. I didn’t want to settle so the only way to make that happen was by working hard.

How can our readers follow you online?

Readers can visit our website to see our product line at zaaina.com or follow us @zaainaskincare on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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