Shadoh Punnapuzha: “Be adaptable. You cannot use the same management style for every individual”

Alexandra Spirer
Feb 16 · 8 min read

Be adaptable. You cannot use the same management style for every individual. Each person has different habits, personalities and work ethics and to be a good leader you need to understand what works with whom. Build relationships individually so your team is comfortable coming and sharing with you.

For my series on strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shadoh Punnapuzha. Shadoh has dedicated countless hours scouring ingredients from around the world — to find the purest essence of exotic spices, enchanting blooms, and precious woods. Combining that with the knowledge of Ayurvedic experts, brings you a collection that is both exquisite and effective.

Taïla’s mission is to empower skin’s natural healing process. She’s personally designed each product to help guide skin into its own unique balanced state. Ultimately skin is brought into harmony with only pure ingredients that honor your beauty.

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was always ingrained with the benefits of the botanical science of Ayurveda- my father has a background in botany and both my parents are from Kerala, India. Looking back, it was inevitable that I would have chosen any other path. Growing up in NY, it was hard to continue to appreciate these age-old practices, and sadly I grew apart from these values. It was later when I developed a bout of cystic acne, eczema and hives that made me turn back to Ayurveda.

This is what healed me and it was the moment that I knew I had to share the healing science of Ayurveda with the world. That was how Taïla was created.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

There are many interesting stories that have occurred since leading Taïla. However, this one time I was on a business trip in India trying to learn the methods of extraction and understand what environment various plants thrive in.

This was one of the most eye-opening experiences for me because it showed how these processes that have been around for thousands of years that are so precise and has been passed on from generation to generation comes from a heritage that has been time-tested and proven effective. Yet these methods have been kept so secretive with only a few people in the know.

I was lucky enough to be led by a medicine man from a tribe that walked me through this forest showing me different medicines they use mainly. It made me realize how powerful nature is and no matter how much we emulate its essence it is too dynamic to capture via synthetic ingredients.

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?

Keep in mind my background was in Finance, so I really didn’t know the beauty retail world. I would cold call retailers and I remember they would ask for samples. Guess what I thought, when they asked for samples I thought it was customer samples, the tiny ones you give out so they can experience the product. Well, in the retail world it meant actual full-size products so that they can evaluate packaging. Finally, one buyer both amused and taking pity on my naivety, was kind enough to tell me. This experience taught me to always use your community as your resource and if you don’t know, always ask.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

For us the integrity of our products come from following time-honored processes, monitoring every stage and manufacturing all the products in house. It is not the easiest or most profitable approach but it does result in effective products that are superior in quality.

Unlike many of the other skincare products out there, we do many of our own extractions guided by the texts of Ayurveda. Some of our ingredients takes a few days to prepare and an individual product can take up to a week to produce. The profound value is in the process.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are planning on embarking into the wellness space. Ayurveda strongly believes that beauty is the reflection of the union of the mind and body. Stress, your diet, your exercise are all reflected on your skin. By providing other ways to balance your mind I feel we can offer a more complete system to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Remind them of how the company started and its purpose. In understanding from a broader perspective of what everyone is working towards, it can ignite passion. The value of your team is often overlooked and without them you would not be able to thrive. So appreciate them, share words of encouragement and recognition, it goes a long way.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Be adaptable. You cannot use the same management style for every individual. Each person has different habits, personalities and work ethics and to be a good leader you need to understand what works with whom. Build relationships individually so your team is comfortable coming and sharing with you.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are many that have played a role in becoming who I am but I have to say the biggest impact was very much from my Father. It was his affinity for botanicals and his vast knowledge in Ayurveda which allowed me to appreciate how powerful nature is. He also instilled confidence in me and always made sure that I understood that as a woman I am as capable as any man.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We partner with Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project, a not for profit in India that takes children from underprivileged homes and educate them from age four through high school. They also help guide the students through the college process and support them till they achieve the merits needed for the profession they choose. Seeing Dr. Abraham’s mission and passion is very inspiring, and I wanted to be able to help in whatever small way I can. Which is why I decided to partner up with them. For every purchase made on Taïla’s site a portion goes towards the Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Vet your people — take the time to really make sure the people you bring on board have the necessary talent whether it is a third- party consultant or part of your internal team. As a startup your resources are limited and sometimes being lured by the lower pricing may be to your detriment. Because in the end you will waste both time and money on people that are not the right fit. I had this situation happen to me when we were trying to find a sales rep, and the result was just losing money and not having the connections we hoped for.

You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Treat your people well. They are the reason for your success. People always remember how you treat them. I have seen this over and over again. Most will go above and beyond if you are a good-hearted kind human being.

Rely on your intuition, not everything can be assessed objectively. When I was trying to hire someone for our internal team, they looked great on paper but something about it I couldn’t pinpoint that didn’t jive with me. It ended up that person was not a good fit. I had known all along but went against my gut. Innately you have more knowledge than you are aware of.

A good leader is always open to ideas. Hearing other perspectives and feedback from your team and taking the time to assess them has been such a positive experience for me.

A lot of our great ideas comes from our team and we wouldn’t have been able to grow without their opinions.

Always overestimate the time something will take. It will always be longer. When launching one of our new products, we had a timeline and had everything necessary lined up for the launch but at the end we had a hiccup which led to our packaging arriving a lot later than anticipated. It was a bit of a nightmare and we were all running around trying to see how to fix it. So now I try to build in as much cushion for time as possible. Because if something can go wrong, most likely it will (not to be a pessimist).

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. :-)

Children are our future. I know it may sound a bit cheesy but it is true. I sincerely believe there should be better programs that help to encourage education and invest in children’s education globally.

It is only with education they can move up the rung in socioeconomic classes, uplift their families and community. This is the exact reason why I had decided I wanted to partner up with Shanti Bhavan Children’s project. But I want this to be the norm, not an outlier. I still remember as a child that I had a friend in India that was the same age as me, her father worked for my father’s house.

After a while they took her out of school around age 12 so she could help her family. She wanted to learn, she wanted to go to college, but she couldn’t afford not to work.

It broke my heart but at the time I didn’t understand how unfair life can be. A child should have the right to choose education. It should not be a luxury.

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

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” When I was working in the corporate world before starting my day I would meditate on all the things I am grateful for in my life in this little area where I kept relics that I felt connected to, pictures of my family and this quote framed. This quote inspired me every morning and made me dig in deep to see what really would be my next steps in my journey.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

I’ve always wanted to meet Martha Stewart. I admire her so much for her perseverance and the hard work she put into making herself a well-known brand.

It’s not something that was handed to her, which is what makes her an inspiration. She is also a jack of all trades. She always found new and innovative ways to reinvent herself and in my eyes she has never been afraid to jump into a new venture.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Alexandra Spirer

Written by

I am an entrepreneur, publicist, journalist and event producer based in Sunny Florida. My passion is writing & giving back to others.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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