The unprecedented stillness spread out by the great lockdown has pushed the common man's economy onto a slippery turf. Many people, especially women, who lost jobs have struggled with revival ventures to stand upright in the unsteady environment. But Nomiya Ranjan's lockdown initiative 'Nomees Dhruvi' served a different purpose. It oiled her long-forgotten dream to get into the shoes of an entrepreneur someday and helped to bounce high to fame. In less than a year, the herbal hair oil business that sprouted in a small room of her house soon spread wings across the state, and there’s no looking back for Nomi, the businesswoman. Today 'Nomees Dhruvi' can boast of a corporate office, licence and proudly adorns the racks of hypermarkets and medical stores apart from the strong online presence such as Amazon. At a time when livelihoods went into a tailspin, Nomiya's hair oil experimentation is not merely confined to a lockdown success in a financially fragile environment but underscored the victory of a woman who has ultimately found her feet.
Lockdown, a blessing in disguise
When the COVID struck the world, I had the feeling that we would soon navigate the lockdown phase and trek back to normalcy with ease. So in the initial days of lockdown, I kept myself busy in the kitchen trying out new cuisines and posting them on social media. Soon I realised this phase is here to stay for some more time. I thought it wise to shut down the small boutique business which I was running at that time, as the courier service by then had gone haywire due to the lockdown. I had nursed a dream to start my own business ever since I quit my job eight years ago. But never in my mind did I have the faintest feeling that I would soon be an entrepreneur of a hugely popular product. 'Being your own boss' is not that simple. Nevertheless, my entrepreneurial venture into hair oil business was purely accidental.
How it all started
I am a member of a woman's-only group called 'Agneya'. In July last year a friend posted a query in the group seeking a tip for hair fall. Beneath came a host of remedies to cure the scalp issue. It was then I recalled my personal experience in overcoming postpartum hair loss issues which I decided to post it in the group.
Disturbed by the excessive hair fall after my second delivery, I had tried out the plenty of branded, top-rated and expensive hair oils available in the market. Much to my dismay, they only aggravated the problem. Post-delivery hair fall, though common in all new moms, gradually took a toll on my mental health. I reached a point when I was prepared to try on my hair any random stuff I came across, and frantically searched for remedies on YouTube. My mother was so worried at my worsening psychological distress that she asked me to try the traditional hair oil she prepared using herbs. The so-called homemade oils made no sense to me at all. Yet the repeated pleas from mom forced me to give it one last try. Surprisingly, it broke the bubble. The result was quick and effective. The rate of hair-shedding came down drastically in a week!
No sooner I shared my experience in the group, than nine friends who were going through similar experiences requested to somehow provide the very same oil. Since I could empathise with their mental state, I was quick in sending them a pack of the oil, without looking into the profit margin.
Nine lucky charm
The nine friends who bought my hair oil experienced the same result like that of mine. Their honest feedback in social media opened avenues for more takers, which ultimately threw open new business vista. That was the selling point.
The special oil prepared using multi herbs in pure coconut oil is purely organic and is ideal to treat all kinds of hair fall issues (other than baldness) and dandruff. Unlike normal oil that might lead to heaviness of head, Dhruvi does not have the risk of catching cold.
From a single-room office to corporate office in one year
Dhruvi's success was the magic of mouth publicity. It all started from my nine friends who are my first customers. Their word-of-mouth feedbacks worked wonders. Honest reviews in Instagram and Facebook from people who tried out the product took Dhruvi to unprecedented heights of popularity. It was something which I could ever dream of. I never employed advertising tactics to market my oil. Ten months ago, the only investment I had while starting a Facebook group called 'Nomees Dhruvi' was nine happy customers. Today the customer base has crossed 15,000 mark, which forced me to start an office. At that point, a room of my house was converted into a makeshift office. Today Dhruvi has its own office building and a packing section.
Initially, I couriered the oil to customers in unlabelled 200ml bottles. I was barely aware of the nuances of taking the endeavour to next level. The swelling number of customers made it impossible for me to run the show without the requisite licences, the prominent among them being drug licence. Procuring the drug licence was the most difficult part. Having cleared all the hurdles, today I am contented that Dhruvi is a much sought-after brand in Amazon, hypermarkets and medical shops. It is a matter of pride that the product has forayed into foreign markets with distributors in countries such as Canada, USA, UK, Ireland and Australia.
I am happy that the product is being launched in the Middle East next month. Abu Dhabi-based firm Synergy is the distributor of Dhruvi in the Gulf region.
From 3 litres the production has grown to 4 tonnes of oil a month. The herbal oil is prepared at the manufacturing unit in Kannur adhering to the drug department's rules. Office space and a packing unit were simultaneously started at my native place in Kannur.
More than the monetary benefits, the brand stands for a handful of satisfied customers. We have guaranteed that quality won't be compromised at any cost for petty profits and are bound to carry it forward.
Hair fall and psychological trauma
I have felt that the hair fall issue in most cases directly upsets the psychological make-up. Intense hair shedding would cause mental stress. Most of us who experience excessive hair loss will tend to be anxious over losing the entire hair in a few weeks. A large section of customers staying abroad attribute their hair loss to work pressure, climate, water, while some believe it is due to the wrong diet regime. People who faced hair fall issues due to post-delivery syndrome, climatic change, water, stress and hormone issues vouch for Dhruvi. Their reviews drive home the point that regular and systematic use of the oil does bring the desired result. Unlike hollow claims that my magical oil stimulates hair growth down to your knee level by roping in celebrities, Dhruvi remains rooted in genuineness with the support of honest feedbacks testified by the users themselves.
Social media, the game changer
Social media is tremendously powerful. I have never imagined it had the potential to transform my life for the better. The growth of Dhruvi into a renowned brand in the hair oil industry and that too without the help of an advertisement only underscores the relevance of social media platforms.
Dhruvi is my baby, and no one knows about it better than me. Hence I make it a point to maintain a direct relationship with the customers and find time to reply to their queries no matter how busy I am.
The pandemic has struck down the livelihood of many, irrespective of gender. Starting new ventures has become part of the sustenance mechanism for many sections of people. But there was comparatively less or no pandemic effect to those entrepreneurs who ran small ventures
We are going through a phase where it has become a mandatory requirement for women to contribute to household income, no matter how small it is. A financially independent woman is free from the malaise of domestic violence, unlike her unemployed counterpart who is victimised by her abusive partner's ability to control her. A woman who is able to support her family economically, socially, and emotionally proves that gender inequality is in fact the manifestation of society. Nowadays more and more women are foraying into various small-scale business ventures, of which some have turned out to be extremely successful. The pandemic-induced lockdown has proved that smaller markets offer better easier gains than bigger markets. Though I had long nursed a dream to be an entrepreneur, hardly can I believe I could it make it big in a span of one year. Of course, a lot of hard work has gone into Dhruvi’s success. The strength of my product rests upon the happy, satisfied customer base. The users' satisfaction means a lot to me. That is why our brand advocates are none other than the first-time users.
My family members are my backbone. Since I am a beginner in the field, at times, I falter in decision-making. But I am lucky to have an encouraging husband. We have two children - six-year-old Rayan and three-year-old Ricky. My mother mostly takes care of my children as I would be busy with work. Now they are more or less used to my busy schedules. My family, undoubtedly, plays a pivotal role in keeping the show going smoothly.