I have spent considerable time in Himachal Pradesh in the last two and a half years, says Jessica Jayne, Mumbai-based entrepreneur who manages multiple businesses, of which Pahadi Local is the most recent. “Because it was so cold, my skin was going through all sorts of trauma and I had tried practically everything on the planet to overcome it. The locals told me about this oil that is procured from upper Himachal, a household article, which could help me. I tried it, and felt like it was the best thing ever.”
She was immediately addicted to this oil, locally called Gutti ka tel, or apricot kernel oil. “Every time I would visit Himachal, I would get a couple of bottles to gift to my friends and family and everyone seemed to take an instant liking to it,” says Jayne. It started off as an innocuous gifting option, but the situation soon escalated to the point where people she knew started placing orders with her every time she visited the mountains.
The entrepreneur in Jayne saw this as fertile ground to provide this richness of the hills to city dwellers. “Over the last two years, I did a proof of concept and started an offline company called Gutti ka Tel.” Jayne personally visited the apricot orchards and witnessed the extraction and the pressing process, carried out through non-standardised village chakkis. “It’s an absolutely raw, non-filtered extract — it can’t get purer than this. I spent lots of time there, establishing good relations with the orchard owners and the people who were a part of the process,” she says.
Eventually, a couple of magazines picked up on the growing demand of this silent entrant into the wellness sector in Mumbai, helping spread the word about the product. “It became a big thing in Mumbai. It’s a magical oil that can be used head to toe — by you, your baby, your mother… everybody will love it.” After receiving a positive response, she decided to take three months off to focus on getting it right. She got together with a friend, decided to name her brand “Pahadi Local”, which started in September this year. She reinvented the product offering, blending the natural product from the reaches of Himalayas with design and brand aesthetics that suited the taste of her niche urban consumers.
The product, because it is now branded and will be retailed on shelves, goes through a stringent process of checks, verifications and lab testing. Jayne also faced some logistical issues with the original packaging. “Initially, we used to receive this oil in a glass bottle with a cork. But we couldn’t continue with that because the corks were popping and glass was breaking because of temperature variations. So we switched over to plastic but managed to keep intact the look and feel of the original item,” explains Jayne.
“It became a big thing in Mumbai. It’s a magical oil that can be used head to toe — by you, your baby, your mother… everybody will love it. It’s an absolutely raw, non-filtered extract — it can’t get purer than this. I spent lots of time there, establishing good relations with the orchard owners and the people who were a part of the process,”
Pahadi Local is a luxury brand, offering authentic and rare local products. Currently, the brand has two products — gutti ka tel, the apricot kernel oil, and khal, the apricot scrub in powder form, made from the residue left after the oil is extracted. “I want to retain the original pahadi names to familiarise people [about the roots of the product].”
The oil, rich in vitamins A, E and C and other antioxidants, can be applied directly on to the skin. It acts as a ready remedy to most skin-related conditions. Easily absorbed by the body, the oil also has a nutty essence that works well as a moisturiser, helping the skin regain its smoothness and lustre. It can work as a make-up remover, is effective in arresting skin infections and eczemas, decreases dandruff and nourishes dry, chemically treated hair, and acts as massage oil too.
For pregnant women, it can help reduce stretch marks and cellulite. Jayne also reveals how the apricot kernel oil has become popular with men, who use it after a regular work-out session to relieve joint pains. Khal, the other Pahadi Local offering, can be mixed with milk, honey or rosewater and used as a body scrub. The scrub helps exfoliate naturally, helps reduce ingrown hair and smoothens skin by removing dead cells. “I have a couple of other items that are going to come out soon. But I want to take it slow. I want people to understand, enjoy and learn about these rare supplies. There is no point flooding the market; and I have to make sure I maintain a balance between the demand and the supply, because I don’t want to take a task force up there and kill these resources,” says Jayne.
Pahadi Local has also tied up with an NGO in Himachal Pradesh through which they want to give back to the community by creating employment for the villagers. They plan to eventually create their own CSR and make a Pahadi Local NGO in Mumbai to take care of women and children with special needs.
The Pahadi Local products are currently retailed at leading designer stores and spa centres in Mumbai. These products will be rolled out to Rajasthan, Goa, Delhi and Bangalore within the nexttwo months.
A 200 ml bottle of Gutti ka Tel is available for Rs 1,000 and a 135 ml jar of Khal scrub is priced at Rs 450. More information about the brand is available on Facebook.