Vaishali Sharda is the CEO and second in command of Mellow. As a child, she was an inspiration behind the inception of the brand when her ailing hair problems led her mother to search for solutions the natural way that eventually led her to start Mellow.
Vaishali is a B.com graduate and has studied Bachelor of Laws (LLB). Prior to coming to Mellow, she was practicing human rights law. She was actively involved in cases and projects involving women and labour rights. Her journey from a career in law to entrepreneurship is a fascinating one. Below are the answers she responded to the Interview Times Questionnaire:-Q1- What inspired you to start something related to herbal?
Answer: The journey of Mellow is a story of my mother’s love for me and her quest for her independence. Decades ago, Sujata Sharda, a homemaker, and a mother went searching for the answer to her daughter’s hair fall problems. Her strong resolve to find the solution to her daughter’s hair fall in mother nature, led her to a journey of discovery across Vaidyas (Ayurvedic doctors), botanists, herbal experts, and after many souls searching, research, and experimentation with various natural formulations in her own kitchen- she made the first Sesame hair oil- the hair elixir. The oil yielded astonishing results and was an instant success!
As the word for the natural elixir spread far and wide among relatives, communities, and beyond, orders started pouring in and demand grew, it was time for her to move beyond the confines of her kitchen.
In 2008, she laid the foundation of the first factory, and thus Mellow was born. It has been 13 years since and still Mellow stands for artificial and free from harmful chemicals natural products till date. What keeps us going is our commitment to provide the purest and most authentic Ayurvedic products affordable for all.
Q2- What are your flagship and most loved products yet?
Answer: The first product that comes to my mind is obviously Sesame Hair Oil that started this whole journey. All our products are equally loved by our customers and it’s hard to choose one from another. But if I have to choose, it would be – Marigold Face Wash, Rose Water, Anti-Wrinkle Cream, Lip Treatment and Body Lotion.
What message do you want to give to people who wanted to start something of their own?
The first thing I would say is to take the leap of faith. If you are always sitting on the coast gazing at other fisherman you would never know the beauty of fishing. Please trust yourself, trust your instincts and gut -they somehow are much more wiser than your logic. And lastly work hard, work really hard.
And then when you are in the trenches, chances are you will fail. Society teaches you failure is bad but it’s a part of learning. Remember you only need to succeed once. Also, don’t be scared of taking risk. I personally have changed my career path so many times but if you put all your heart and hard work in one place, you are bound to successful. I sincerely believe hard work and determination makes a deadly combo.
Q3- What are the most valuable things you learned from all these years of your entrepreneur career?
Answer: I think I am still a young entrepreneur. (laughs) Haha. But one thing I can definitely tell you is working in a corporate job and working as an entrepreneur are poles apart. Every day is an opportunity for growth, every day is a learning process. My entrepreneurship journey made me humble. You learn gratitude for all that you have, you learn compassion and patience to deal with people, you feel more grounded and you see the world from another perspective.
I also have to communicate and manage a lot of team from R&D, manufacturing to marketing. And one thing it taught me is to listen to people more. Listening is the key. You become a very good listener. It’s a journey, it’s a learning process and I am learning, growing and enjoying the challenges and growth in my new life as a budding entrepreneur.
Q4-What hurdles did you face during the initial days of your start-up and how did you overcome them?
Answer: Well for me personally, it was a whole different arena, a whole new world for me. Before being the CEO of Mellow, I was practicing human rights law. Me being a lawyer, I had no idea of manufacturing or marketing when I first started. It was like, all of a sudden, I switched from a consumer to the other side. And as a consumer you think you know it all but trust me you really don’t.
I talked to a lot of people, consumers, entrepreneurs, manufactures, marketers and they had their own story to share, their own feedback, analysis and advice. So I did a lot of listening in the initial days. But when starting out I was not even sure if this is the right way to go about it. You see entrepreneurship is not a linear path. I had a lot of questions in my mind: Is the hard work worth it? Is it worth taking the risk? Will my decisions boomerang? Initially it was a mix of self-doubt and learning as I was responsible for all new changes and all the new investments I was making in the business.
To be honest, entrepreneurship is not how it look like on Instagram. There were days when I used to work for 14-15 hrs. It was all new for me and sometimes it gets lonely out there because there is no one who would understand your path. It’s definitely a lot of hurdles and a lot of challenges will be thrown at you but you learn, you listen and you overcome them. Q5-What is your success Mantra?
Answer: The biggest realisation I had in my small entrepreneurship journey is that unlike a 9-5 job, it’s not about succeeding alone but succeeding together. You need to have an A-team whom you can trust. You need to have faith in them. You need to constantly upgrade yourself and also motivate your team.
My mantra of success is a little different from most of the way how most people define success. Success I believe is not about an individual phenomenon like the way society teaches you. It’s about succeeding together. Your success should not only uplift you but others too- your team, the consumers, the society. That’s when success is wholesome, holistic and most importantly sustainable. You will find the same ethos in our brand and in all that we do.Q6- What are your future plans?
Answer: At Mellow we are also trying to simplify things for consumers. You see you don’t need to do a plethora of things for your beauty regime. A few products is all you need to give your skin, body and hair the best care it deserves.
At the core of it, we want to make Ayurveda accessible for every Indian. You see Mellow is at the sweet spot between premium and affordable skincare brand. This country is the birthplace of Ayurveda. Why shouldn’t more people use Ayurvedic products ? Our current goal is to take Ayurveda to every household in India so that everyone can get the benefit from it and also to make people aware of the Ayurvedic lifestyle.
We want to take affordable Ayurveda to the world. We are very soon planning to launch on Nykaa, Sublime Life, Vanity Wagon, Amazon US, and UAE. Our vision is not only to find a spot on people’s shelves but also in their hearts. Because at the end of the day, they believe that it is all about love and serving the customers through best-in-class natural products inspired by Ayurveda.
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