Poornavathanaa Subramaniam’s journey of learning organic and natural skin care began when her firstborn was diagnosed with eczema at birth. “I had no knowledge of the disease – what causes eczema and how to treat it.”
Poorna quit her job in banking to focus on finding a cure for her son’s problem by talking to skin specialists and pediatricians. “They would prescribe him steroids. One day I googled the long term effects of steroid use – thinning skin and scarring. As a mother, this worried me because I could already see some of the reactions.
“From there, I came across natural and organic ingredients that didn’t necessarily cure eczema, but kept it from getting worse. I changed up my son’s skincare routine and made sure his skin was always hydrated and hydrated,” the mother-of-three says, adding that dry skin is likely to face more problems.
Poorna dug deep into plant extracts, essential oils and plant-based butter and their benefits while working in event management in 2019. “When the pandemic hit, I was doing nothing. So I thought, why not venture into organic and natural skincare products?
Launched in September 2020, Whipped + Bath offers a vegan and kid-friendly cream soap, body scrub and body butter in various scents and colors. The name alludes to the act of whipping the ingredients together before they go to the skin.
Since she mostly works alone, Poorna can only make five jars of scented soap, 200g each, in two hours. “First, I make the base using mild surfactants and a moisturizing, glycerin-rich formulation to produce a creamy lather and lather. Then I add botanical extracts – either in powder or oil form – before to whisk the ingredients together.The process takes up to two hours.
The soap is then poured into a jar, the same way bakers frost cupcakes. This is another unique feature of Whipped + Bath products. “I want the liquid to be seen down to the last bit and I can’t do that with bottles. When I put the soap in a jar, I can expect the smell and texture to be the same until the last bar. If it’s creamy at the beginning, I want it to be creamy until the end. I got the idea when I took jam out of a jar.
“I wasn’t into baking, so I had no knowledge of piping cream soap into a container. It was difficult for me to use the nozzle. I’ve studied [how to do it] via YouTube and asked my baker friends which nozzles were suitable for different types of icing,” she says.
Whipped + Bath has 16 variations with flavors such as Chocolicious Babe, Mango Slushie, Marshmallow, and Cotton Candy. Within this range, customers can choose the ingredients that they prefer and that suit their skin.
During the trial and error stage, each formulation was hand-whipped to achieve the right texture. “I don’t do that anymore except for body butter, which I only make in small batches,” says Poorna.
Body butter is not popular in Malaysia as many believe it will make their skin oily, she observes. “Our product is formulated using a non-greasy formula. When I promote it in bazaars, customers are hesitant, but I give lots of samples and let them try the texture on their bodies. Eventually they will come back and buy our body butter.
One of Poorna’s biggest challenges was communication: in her previous job in banking, she interacted more with machines than with people. “My communication skills were very poor when I started my business. Even though I knew what I was doing, it felt like something was stopping me from sharing and talking about it.
Interacting with friends and clients has helped her gain the confidence to talk to people. “My first pop-up event was at Empire Subang [in Selangor]. It was an opportunity for me to promote my brand and communicate with customers. When I first started selling my products, most of them thought they were jams or cookies because the soaps looked appealing. »
Poorna uses plant-based butter, plant extracts, earthen clay and essential oils, mostly sourced overseas, in its creamy soap. Product prices reflect the ingredients used and the time spent making them.
“My retail price for a 200g jar of soap is RM69 and it can last for a month. Customers ask why they are so expensive. I tell them the soaps are scented with essential oils and are full of organic and natural ingredients, which aren’t cheap.
Whipped + Bath’s Raya collection for this year, developed using a different type of formulation and featuring Melur, Kenanga, Limau and Serai fragrances, had an overwhelming response. As a result, Poorna plans to expand its business.
“I believe Whipped + Bath is more than just a business. It’s a brand that raises awareness so people can opt for organic and natural products. Customers are starting to accept what I do. It gives me confidence necessary to go further and become a reseller. When the business grows, I will have to hire more people to help me,” says Poorna, whose goal is to open a store by next year.
This article was first published on June 20, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.