IN 2017, two sisters from Port Dickson found themselves completely broke, and they came up with a rescue plan. They decided to make natural skincare products based on Ayurvedic recipes passed down from their great-great-grandparents, and Potions was born.
“It all began one morning. We used the last of our salaries to pay off bills and realised that we were utterly and completely broke ... Christmas was only a week away. So, we had to come up with a plan,” said 36-year-old Sharmini Joy Ramani, who had spent 10 years in the advertising industry.
Joy and her sister Sharmila Anne, who practised law for about 11 years, decided to create skincare products using Ayurvedic recipes from their grandparents. “Much to our surprise, a week after Christmas, our friends loved their presents so much, they asked us to make more products for them,” she said.
The ‘gift of giving’ got the ball rolling. “With the support of our family and friends, we turned to our roots by making skincare remedies using natural ingredients and formed a cohesive line of products that have a real purpose for your skin.”
Thirty-nine-year-old Anne added: “Ayurveda is something we have practiced in our family for generations. A lot of the recipes were passed down to us from our great-great-grandparents.
“We do not have a degree in Ayurveda, but this is something we are working on obtaining to enhance our skills. At the moment, we study Ayurveda from books and studies conducted by professionals in the field of Ayurveda. It also helps to have doctors as parents for the occasional consult on skin and hair issues.”
Initially, the two faced financial challenges.
“At times, we had to survive on instant noodles to purchase our expensive exotic oils, but we managed to grow from a simple booth set up at a market, to a functioning online business,” said Joy.
The secret of Potions
Joy explained that the all-natural skincare brand was inspired by ancient Ayurvedic beauty rituals. “Coming from a family prone to hypersensitive skin, we quickly became very passionate about sensitive skincare,” said Anne.
The sisters rediscovered the healing properties of Ayurveda after becoming frustrated by myths about ‘chemical-free’ skincare, as well as after using various off-the-shelf products, which only aggravated their skin. “Our knowledge of ancient beauty rituals coupled with our passion led us to create Potions,” said Joy.
“I have childhood memories of my sister and I using herbs and flowers from our garden to come up with our very own beauty concoctions. I remember Dad using hibiscus and coconut oil to strengthen hair, while mother used herbs to cleanse – all beauty rituals that have been handed down to us as children. It was always a family affair.
“Drawing upon these family traditions, I was inspired to re-create these timeless ancient rituals for the modern consumer. I find it exciting to think that in our modern-day world we are making our way back to the roots of our ancient beauty traditions.”
Previously, Anne had suffered from acne problems. She explained: “I tried just about every hyped-up skincare product and routine in the market. Nothing seemed to work for me. But I distinctly remembered that growing up, I would turn to natural raw ingredients such as turmeric, neem and saffron to heal my skin, and that made all the difference.
“I had never seen my skin go without a breakout for more than a month. But I could never find any off-the-shelf products that leveraged the efficacy of these natural ingredients.
“This inspired me to develop a skincare line using the ingredients that I had used growing up.”
Harry Potter thrown into the mix
The sisters’ love of Harry Potter movies based on the books written by British author J.K. Rowling inspired the brand name Potions.
“We are huge fans. Whenever we are formulating our products, we always feel like Hermione Granger brewing up potions,” said Joy.
“The formulations are rooted in the Ayurvedic principle: If you can’t eat it, it doesn’t belong on your skin. Ingestible ingredients are the cornerstone of Ayurvedic beauty. Potions stays away from the use of artificial, synthetic and harmful toxins.
“Instead, all our products are made using the best quality oils and pure essential oils. Purely vegan ingredients including herbs, roots, plants and fruits are infused in oils, absorbing its therapeutic properties and providing the base for our products.”
According to Joy, the Ayurvedic herbs and essential oils in each product are carefully formulated to solve a particular problem, and at the same time, to create a divine and luxurious experience.
“From cleansing and layering with oils, herbs and flowers, showering with exquisitely scented soaps, detoxing delicate skin with purifying clays, nourishing the hair and scalp with potent herbs, enveloping [you] from head-to-toe with deliciously seductive oils, Potions goes beyond just skincare products, to a truly holistic lifestyle,” claimed Joy.
One of its best-sellers, the Emerald Elixir hair and scalp nourishing treatment oil, has simple ingredients such as curry leaves, coconut oil and castor oil.
“It helps follicles to breathe, and aids in the scalp’s restoration process. Regular use will help to keep the scalp healthy and will stimulate hair growth by rejuvenating the hair follicles,” said Joy.
Their latest product is the Mystic Eye Night Repair Eye Serum Concentrate, containing rosehip seed extract, cucumber seed oil, pomegranate oil, squalene, sweet almond oil, carrot root extract, essential oils of palmarosa, frankincense, tumeric, cypress, geranium, lavender, coffee and tocopherol.
Joy’s favourite potion is the Moonstruck Fudge Clay Cleanser and Mask for its texture, scent, and ability to cleanse and nourish, while Anne’s favourite is the Veda Glow Powder Cleanser and Mask for its versatility and efficacy.
What does the future hold for the two?
“Our answer would have been different if this was asked a few months ago. We had big plans to expand and come up with a range of new products. However, our [current] plans are to manage our brand as well as we can during these testing times,” said Anne, referring to the Movement Control Order.
“We are survivors, and hard times only push us to work harder at making things work. If the future goes our way, we will explore perfumes and a new men’s line,” concluded Anne.