Anit Hora’s Luxury Vegan Apothecary Line Inspired by her Own Life

Anit Hora is a certified yoga teacher, a certified herbalist, and the founder of the luxury vegan apothecary line Mullein & Sparrow. Hailing from a family of entrepreneurs, Hora’s products are carried at Anthropologie, Birchbox, and other retailers across the US.

“Both my grandfathers were entrepreneurs and started their businesses right after the Partition, which was a really hard time for India. They each became very successful, and thinking of them always reminds me that there is no struggle you can’t overcome.” We sat down with Anit Hora for a ‘one-on-one’.

1. What made you start Mullein & Sparrow? Why this name for the company?

My parents were entrepreneurs and, while I never deliberately intended to do that with my life, it also wasn’t as wild for me to start something of my own. It felt kind of natural and a bit like destiny. I had just come back home to Brooklyn after traveling in South America for about a year and was in a very open place in my life without any concrete plan. The travel had opened up my curiosity about herbal healing and wellness and had reinvigorated the ayurvedic medicine and beauty practices I had grown up with in an Indian household. At that point, I was seriously into yoga and became a certified yoga teacher as well as a certified herbalist and was just living more holistically than I previously had. I wanted to extend that to my skincare and body care and wasn’t finding products on the market that I wanted to use.

So I got my aesthetics license from Aveda and delved into skincare so that I could formulate products for myself using my herbal and Ayurvedic knowledge. I started sharing my creations with friends and family, and through word of mouth, people started asking me to create products for them. After that I organized craft fairs, and large retailers approached me to showcase my products in their shops. So I decided to make it official. I named the company Mullein after the first herb I had learned about when starting my courses in herbal medicine and Sparrow from the nickname my mom had given me since I was a child. We’ve since rebranded to M.S Skincare because people found Mullein challenging to pronounce and spell, but our original customers still call it Mullein and Sparrow.

Anit Hora

2. What is the hardest part of talking Ayurvedic products mainstream?

The good thing is Ayurveda is definitely gaining traction so I have to explain less than I used to. But what’s challenging is that people read something on the internet and have preconceived notions about what Ayurvedic skincare should be. They want to put you in a neat category and it kind of hems you in. My products are a reflection of who I am as a modern American woman. Our ingredients are Ayurvedic but just like the Indian beauty treatments my mom used growing up, like a besan mask (chickpea flour) or rose and sandalwood face cream, but they are simply called face cream. Today, as an Ayurvedic brand, there is this pressure to make it more palatable as through labels and categories that just don’t feel authentic. As an Indian woman, I don’t feel the need to have to wear a sari and a bindi to prove my Indianness and I don’t feel the need to put a sari on my brand, so to speak, to prove how Ayurvedic it is.

3. What is the most exhilarating part about being an entrepreneur? And the most scary part?

The very same thing makes it equally terrifying and exhilarating. The complete lack of security and stability which are harrowing if I allow myself to think about it too often are also the reason I live in a space of vast, exciting potential everyday. I very much live on that fine edge of asking myself, “Will I fall off the cliff this year or will I fly?” Living in that space is exciting and brilliant and also not for the faint of heart.