Q. We have heard that you recently launched a new beauty product for the western markets?

A. I was invited to a Celebrity Event in Beverly Hills, California, during the Emmy Awards Week and Hollywood Film Festival. I introduced my innovative Starlight range of formulations, which are specially created for film and television stars, who have to counter the damaging effects of exposure to harsh arc lights, sun, pollution, dust, wind and heavy make-up. To counter such problems, a comprehensive skin care routine, like the Starlight Range was formulated. The formulations contain Ayurvedic ingredients that are known for their soothing and healing properties. They specially help to restore the health of the skin and hair. The Range comprises of an ideal Make-up Cleanser, Day Cream with sunscreen, Night Cream, Spotlight Damage Control Moisturiser, Rejuvenating Mask, Cream Shampoo and Ayurvedic Massage Oil. They represent the latest technology in organic beauty care. The formulations were initially launched at the Cannes Film Festival, when I walked the red carpet. My dream is to see Ayurveda lead the international beauty industry within the next decade.

Q. Do you consider India to be a good market for entrepreneurs? How have things been for you so far?

A. India is one of the largest consumer markets in the world. In fact, it is the second largest consumer market, after China. It also has an educated middle class, with increasing purchasing power. There are several women in the career world too and many of them find entrepreneurship a good option. The Indian market, especially in the beauty business, has tremendous potential for growth. In India there is great faith in herbal healing and holistic systems like Ayurveda. In fact, the herbal beauty business has been driving the growth of the beauty business in India. Also, due to the “back to nature” trend worldwide, my concept of herbal / Ayurvedic beauty care was not only accepted, but actually stormed the international markets. I have taken our Indian herbal heritage and the Indian knowledge of herbal healing to every corner of the globe. I always believed India has a great deal to offer the world in terms of her heritage of Ayurveda. Today, there is no doubt that I owe my success to the fact that I adopted Ayurvedic beauty care as a proud Indian.

Q. You recently attended the Oscars. Please tell us about your experience?

A. As the pioneer of the Ayurvedic beauty care movement, I was invited to speak on “Ayurveda – India’s ancient cosmetic science,” at a pre-Oscar event, related to the Oscar awards, in Beverly Hills, California. As someone who has taken India’s herbal heritage all over the world, I was asked to highlight the healing power of herbs and the dangerous side-effects of chemicals in the global beauty and wellness business. So, I decided to focus attention on the benefits of Ayurveda and how Ayurveda is the oldest and yet the most organized system of herbal healing in the world. I also wanted to stress on Ayurvedic ingredients and how they are ideal for beauty care. So, I took the opportunity to promote Brand India along with our herbal heritage.

Q. How are you making people aware about the dangerous side effects of chemicals used in the beauty and wellness products?

A. My image is directly related to the brand. Since I had adopted a new concept of herbal “care and cure,” I had to make people aware of the dangers of chemicals and the goodness of herbs. Very early in my career, I made it a point to reply personally to letters seeking solutions for skin and hair problems. Even now, almost four decades later, I still maintain this practice, this personal touch. In my regular columns, I provide home remedies as solutions for beauty problems. In the minds of the readers, this reinforces the philosophy of the brand that “nature is the best cosmetologist.” My own faith in Ayurveda and herbal healing has not only influenced markets and minds, but has become an integral part of the brand image. Speaking on international platforms, I have held press conferences all over the world to popularize the benefits of Ayurvedic beauty care and the dangerous side-effects of chemicals.

“The human body responds well to natural substances and has an in-built resistance to synthetic ones. Herbs have powerful healing properties and yet, have a gentle effect on the skin. Herbs also have specific healing properties.”

Q. Why, according to you Ayurveda is the best option when it comes to skin?

A. First of all, Ayurveda has a long history of safe human usage. It offers safety from allergic and irritative after-effects. On the other hand, allergic and irritation to chemicals are very common. The human body responds well to natural substances and has an in-built resistance to synthetic ones. Herbs have powerful healing properties and yet, have a gentle effect on the skin. Herbs also have specific healing properties. For example, some help to cleanse the skin, while others moisturize or nourish. They also help to treat the skin according to skin types and individual needs. Even the natural fragrance of flower and herb extracts help to calm the nerves and induce relaxation.

Q.  Yours is the only India brand which is present at Selfridges in London. How do you feel about that?

A. Entering the international market was not easy. I participated in the Festival of India in London in 1980 and was given a counter in the Perfumery Section at Selfridges. I was rubbing shoulders with the biggest international brand names. In a hysterical international cosmetic industry, where billions of dollars are spent on advertising and packaging, selling youth and dreams in bottled jars and in the face of fierce competition, I stuck to my guns and solo “India & Ayurvedic” image. To stand up and sell India’s ancient civilization in a jar, without financial resources and advertising, was not easy. I stood alone at the counter and sold my country’s 3000 BC heritage. To everyone’s surprise we sold out our consignment in 3 days, breaking the store’s existing cosmetic sales records. Today, Shahnaz Herbal is the only Indian brand selling in Selfridges, London’s most prestigious store.

Q. Are you introducing any new products?

A. We recently launched our Chemoline products in London. Based on soothing and healing herbs of Ayurveda, they have been formulated to alleviate the effects of chemotherapy and radiation on the skin and hair. We have been giving the products free of charge to cancer hospitals, as part of our CSR activities. We will soon be launching our Luxury Range of products. Enriched with precious plant extracts and essential oils, it comprises of a body care lotion, night cream, day cream, under-eye gel and mask. We have also recently launched the Shahnaz Signature Perfume created by Galimard, the world renowned house of perfume in Grasse, France. The exotic earthy fragrance and distinct floral notes have been specially selected and combined, to create this exclusive perfume. The top notes are derived from Bergamot, Caramel, Lilac and Ylang Ylang, while the middle notes come from Raspberry, Jasmine, Tuberose, Iris. The base notes of aromas that continue to linger are Amber, Musk, Sandalwood and Vanilla.

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