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How a housewife made a Rs 29 crore turnover personal care brand by making homemade soap for her baby

In a remarkable tale of resilience and determination, Coimbatore-based Krithika Kumaran turned a personal challenge into a thriving business empire, starting with a small initial investment of Rs 8,000-10,000.

Faced with her daughter’s skin problems, Kritika embarked on a relentless search to find a solution, eventually creating her own line of natural, organic and sustainable personal care products under the Vilvah brand name.

Krithika Kumaran started Wilvaha in 2017 from the kitchen of her home (Photo: Special Arrangement)

Since its inception, Wilwah has grown tremendously to now achieve a turnover of Rs. 29 crores.

From its humble beginnings in Kritika’s home kitchen, Wilwah Store now offers a diverse range of 70 different skincare and hair care products, catering to a variety of consumer needs.

With a strong presence on its website, various e-commerce platforms and two physical stores in Chennai and Coimbatore, the brand continues to expand its reach and influence.

Krithika was born in a small town called Gobichettipalayam in Tamil Nadu. Her father is a lawyer, and her mother was a homemaker.

Kritika, 37, says, “Our town is a small agricultural town where everybody knows everybody. We have goats and cattle at home. I grew up in a town like this.”

Kritika completed her schooling at Sri Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School in her hometown before moving to Coimbatore for further education. There, he pursued B.Tech in Information Technology at Kumaraguru College of Technology, graduating in 2007.

Kritika’s daughter had a skin problem at the age of two.

After completing her engineering, she married Tamil Kumaran at the age of 21 and became a housewife. Tamil was involved in his family’s textile business, which focused on yarn manufacturing.

The couple now have a 12-year-old daughter, who developed skin complications due to eczema when she was just two.

When her daughter developed skin problems, Kritika tried various organic soaps and shampoos in the market, but none suited her daughter’s skin. This inspired her to make her own homemade soap using natural ingredients.

“I learned soap making by watching videos on YouTube and also did a two-month diploma course in cosmetology to enhance my knowledge,” shares Kritika.

She started making soap in 2017, sourcing goat milk, olive oil and castor oil for her products. “As word spread about my homemade soaps, I started making goat milk soap, charcoal soap, and rose soap, with goat milk as the main ingredient,” says Kritika.

“The ingredients were organically sourced from our farm in my hometown, where we grow rice, sugarcane, turmeric, curry leaves and coconuts and keep several goats.”

Encouraged by the response to her products, Kritika embarked on an entrepreneurial journey, starting her business Vilwaah in March 2017 from the kitchen of her home. The brand name, Vilvaha, represents a leaf of the Bael tree used in the worship of Lord Shiva.

Kritika working with her employees at her manufacturing unit in Coimbatore

In the first few months, Kritika invested Rs. 8,000-10,000 in business, making products such as Classic Goat Milk Soap, Unscented Goat Milk Soap, Tomato Soap, Cucumber Soap and Carrot Soap.

“I shared information about my products on Facebook and Instagram and orders started pouring in through social media and WhatsApp. Initially, most of the orders came from Coimbatore and other parts of Tamil Nadu,” explains Kritika. Later, it expanded its reach by listing its products on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart and Nykaa.

She started with a small team of two people, one responsible for housekeeping and the other for packaging.

About five months later, he set up a 1,000-sq ft manufacturing unit behind his house in Coimbatore. He invested about Rs 10 lakh in machinery for making soaps and shampoos.

Initially started as a Proprietorship, Wilvah was registered as a Private Limited Company in 2020. The brand has Rs. 1 Crore in turnover during its first year and has grown ever since to reach Rs 29 Crore in the current year.

“My husband who was into his family textile business joined me when I started needing more inquiries and support,” says Kritika, husband Tamil MBA graduate.

Wilwah currently offers 70 different skin care and hair care products, employing approximately 100 people. The brand has further expanded its presence by opening stores in both Chennai and Coimbatore.

Kritika provided insight into sales distribution across these channels, saying, “We derive 50% of our sales from our brand website, 20% from our two physical stores, and the remaining 30% from e-commerce platforms Come.”

Wilwah offers a diverse selection of personal care products, which are classified into four main groups: Face, Hair, Body and their unique Milk range.

Kritika is particularly passionate about her range of milk products. “We want to be known for our range of milk products,” she says. “Our Milk Cream and Brightening Serum at Rs. 690 each, while our Goat Milk Shampoo is priced at Rs. 499.

Krithika with husband Tamil Kumaran, who is now also involved in business

By emphasizing on the milk range, Kritika aims to differentiate Vilvah from other brands in the market and establish a unique identity for the company.

As the brand continues to grow, Kritika hopes to grow Vilvaha’s presence both online and offline. She envisions opening more physical stores across the country and entering international markets.

“We have received inquiries from countries like United States, United Kingdom and Singapore and we are in the process of exploring those opportunities,” says Kritika.

Apart from this, Kritika is also looking forward to expand its product range. “We want to delve into more categories like baby care, men’s grooming and makeup,” she explains.

Despite her success, Kritika remains humble and down-to-earth, acknowledging the importance of giving back to her community.

“We are committed to supporting local farmers and artisans by sourcing our ingredients from them,” she shares. “We also believe in making a positive impact on the environment by reducing our carbon footprint and using eco-friendly packaging.”

Kritika acknowledges the challenges of being a woman entrepreneur as well as juggling family responsibilities.

However, she has found ways to balance both the aspects of her life. “Luckily, we set up our unit right behind it, near my house,” she says.

“I have a supportive husband who has been instrumental in the growth of our business. Also, my in-laws have been very supportive, which makes things easier for me,” shares Kritika.

Kritika is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer

Kritika has always been naturally curious since she was a child and has explored various interests such as music and dance. “I have taken training in Bharatanatyam, vocal music and violin,” she explains.

In their business, her husband Tamil mainly focuses on finance and business management, while Krithika oversees the production side.

Kritika’s journey is a powerful reminder that with passion, determination, and a strong support system, it is possible to overcome challenges and build a thriving business. –twl


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