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Paroma Sen
16 Feb 2016 . 5 min read

Second time entrepreneur Shaili Sutaria talks to us about My Island Kiss, her latest venture


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Shaili Sutaria, second time entrepreneur opens up about her journey today and shares thoughts on her new venture – a brand of lip care products that she herself creates.

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Ever since I was little, my ambitions have been elusive because they were not driven by profession, rather bound by passion. The only rule that has remained constant in my life has been to intuitively follow my heart. Being born in an independent urban household, I was ushered towards accomplishing my bachelor’s in commerce, while my true interests lay in Cinema.  I knew I had an entrepreneurial streak in me but I began to really fancy storytelling through visual mediums. I've pursued my passion endlessly for more than 15 years now, during which time I had the good fortune working for many renowned film-makers, studying at the Los Angeles Film School, and returning only to combine  my creative and commercial skills to start-up my very own animation house in the heart of Mumbai, known by the name of Griphin.

About Griphin, my first venture…

What started with just two of us steadily grew into a 25+ employee organization.  Griphin was now successfully running on its own feet for over 3 years and had completed over 100's of animated advertising videos. The wanderer in me continued to explore. The stress of a 'corporate life' took over, living in Mumbai, working 18 hours a  day, for months at end was leading me into a spiral.  I felt really burned out.

I resolved to live a more wholesome life. I wanted my days to be filled with therapeutic activities that allowed me to be directly in touch with nature.  I gave up my role as a co-founder of Griphin and passed it on to more capable hands. I began to breathe. My health began to regenerate as I started to eat healthy, I became an obsessive enthusiast for living, I lost the bad weight, moved to Goa, where I got married…

This is how myislandkiss.com came about…

Our mutual interests had been heavily invested in the health industry and we were well informed of the organic industry heavily; Organic farming, food cultivation were our commercial interests. I joined Herbal Academy of New England (HANE). I studied to become a certified herbalist.

I was making my own lip balm one afternoon in Kodaikanal, with some locally grown avocado when it hit us!  I have tried many lip care solutions - none that gave me what I wanted from the product. Using my knowledge and interest in nature therapy I wanted to create a lip care  product that embodies the progressive woman, rooted in her traditional values, yet global in her voice.

Island kiss was born after years of research. I wanted to make products that were natural.

We are raw, bold, daring and believe in absolutely no nasties - strictly no petroleum, parabens, phthalates, sulphates or anything artificial on your lips! Only stuff that's edible and safe if ingested. Made from rich exotic butters like avocado butter, mango butter and kokum butter Island Kiss lip moisturiser nourishes, soothes and soften your lips without having to constantly reapply.

We know that  organic lip moisturiser can’t solve all  problems but it’s a pretty good start! Our Branding and outlook is international - we have an international cultural and social subtext for the new progressive Indian who is a large part of that global context. We use exotic ingredients with global flavours. We are not just another herbal or Ayurvedic brand. We are Organic and Flirty, practicing 'responsible expressionism'. 100% Sassy,100% Natural, 100% Pure.

The initial challenges…

The challenges I faced were how to communicate my vision to our suppliers, I tend to be a stickler for details and it was hard to convince our suppliers to do something different and since we didn’t have the huge minimum order sizes to make their production runs profitable, It became a dual edged sword i.e having to convince them of the highest quality of supplies and yet at a price which doesn’t break the bank. It resulted in numerous delays, our launch got delayed by a further 8 months but I was determined that I would wait rather than compromise on any facet of the brand.

We intend to have a more focused approach to stay true to the brand and provide efficient products within the lip care segment. We are launching with a range of  daily lip moisturisers that are the basic essential for a lip care company. Going forward, we plan to launch a lip exfoliator and a lip rejuvenator that completes the cycle of moisturising, exfoliation and regeneration. Additionally, we will come up with exciting colour tints and sticks that are absolutely lead-free yet full of luscious colour.

We have just launched our products online at www.myislandkiss.com . As this is a sun protection daily lip moisturiser we are distributing our products in Goa, for all holidaying islanders to enjoy first.

My thoughts on entrepreneurship… 

Perceptions of opportunity and capability are  strongly linked to any kind of  entrepreneurial activity — that is, if you think you will succeed and will be supported, you are more likely to try. I think the gender roles are changing in India as in other parts if the world. Women are increasingly seeing entrepreneurship as a compelling alternative if a career path is not to their liking. Entrepreneurial activity of any kind always creates growth and prosperity — and solutions for social stigmas around women’s rights. If women are empowered and encouraged, I have no doubt that women will be a driving force of entrepreneurial growth in the future globally.

How we started…

We are a newly married couple and we took our joint finances and managed to run a tight-knit operation that focused on self-reliance so basically we kept a watchful eye on the cash flow. We were offered external funds but decided to forgo the opportunity to build our brand based on our values rather than have consensus on issues that are non-negotiable to us. Sustainability, Organic and the highest quality possible. We did not want to dilute those principles.

Thank you for sharing your story with us Shaili. 

Know of a SHERO we can feature here? Send us an email on paroma@sheroes.in


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Paroma Sen
Paroma Sen is a professional content and creative writer.

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