It was when Harini Sivakumar learned that her son, who had Down’s syndrome, also had compromised immunity, that she felt the impetus to really push for a safe and sustainable world.
Sivakumar is the founder and owner of Earth Rhythm, a company manufacturing and selling 99 percent plastic-free, certified organic, zero-waste products.
This mompreneur’s company is thriving, with an online store sporting organic products ranging from face care, bath and body care products, hair care, and some zero-waste accessories. Earth Rhythm products are also certified cruelty-free, plant-based, and do not contain any artificial fragrances.
Sivakumar, who has an MBA in retail management, was a senior manager at Standard Chartered Bank in Chennai, when her son Bhargav, was born with Down’s syndrome in 2009 marriage. She decided to quit her job to care of him.
Sivakumar also drew on skills she had gained during a vacation in Canada when she was 20 to make DIY natural products for her son.
“I started gifting excess products to relatives and friends,” she said. “It really went well and people started coming back to me like I was a doctor, saying, ‘I have dry skin, eczema, psoriasis.’ I then started formulating recipes based on their skin type.”
By 2015, her home-based business had expanded so much that she decided to open a brick and mortar manufacturing unit in Gurgaon, India.
Sivakumar, who is also invested in alleviating poverty, employs underprivileged and disabled women. In a statement at the Mom Achiever’s Summit 2020, she stressed, “Our company is an all-women venture. We impart training to women from the economically weaker sector of society where they are given expertise to handle manufacturing, and we also employ people with disabilities like autism and Down’s syndrome from time to time to make our workplace 100 percent inclusive.”
In an interview with SEEMA, she expanded on her philosophy and strategy.
Being a champion of poverty alleviation, how doe you help unemployed and disabled women?
At Earth Rhythm (ER), we felt that the potential of women was really diverse and most times they did not have the opportunity to exhibit this. When ER was just starting out as a small home-grown business, we decided to employ women from the economically weaker section of the society who were educated, yet doing blue collar jobs. We recruit them, give them additional training, and today we have about 25 such women who work for ER. They are all from … villages in and around New Delhi.
What are some challenges women entrepreneurs face?
With India being a very traditional country, most times their families would not approve them of working in an environment where men work alongside them. We did and still do a lot of sessions for these women’s families to give them more exposure to women empowerment.
How do you balance work with family life?
I am a mother of two boys, aged 11 and 7. My older son is a child with Down syndrome. I am often asked this question on “OMG, you work? What about your son?” The key to that is planning. It is extremely critical to plan your day. I work five days a week. When at home, I ensure I detach [myself] from electronic gadgets and social media. I always felt that if I didn’t chase my dream because my son had a disability, then I would forever hate the fact that he has a disability. Instead, I embraced him for what he is – and I wouldn’t change a THING in him.
How is the company being sustained, especially during the pandemic?
I think the whole pandemic has made a huge shift in the consumer’s mind, and there is a lot of emphasis on personal hygiene. I think personal care as an industry is not affected much unless they rely on a physical store. We are a 100 percent online store and we see no change in demand. In fact, we see a surge in demand for personal care products.
What is the way forward for Earth Rhythm?
At ER, we are very passionate about making skincare that works! Which means science plays a huge role in our formulations – along with nature. We see that consumers are more informed and mindful these days. They do want effective skincare and are willing to make the shift if it means to save the Earth!
We plan to start a cosmetic line as well on sustainable lines. India is truly in need of sustainable cosmetics and we want to pioneer it.
Do you have any advice for other women or young girls wanting to make a difference?
Just chase your dreams and never give up… But always remember where you came from.