Making people look beautiful from the inside and outside.
This is the real-life story of Anaisha Sukh, a homoeopath and the co-founder of Ma Earth Botanicals, a company which has made a name for itself in the space of health and wellness. The company is into producing natural hair care and skincare products. The ethos of the company is summed up in its tagline,
‘Nature-inspired wellness, handcrafted with love.’
Anaisha was born in Delhi during the seventies to parents who are both architects. Her mother is also a homoeopath who has been practising homoeopathy for over thirty years now. Anaisha has an older sister and a younger brother. When she was only six months old, her father had to move first to Iran and then to Lagos for work, and the family also had to move with him. As a result her formative years were spent in Lagos where she spent her days just like any other child of her age with her time divided between her school, friends and family. She loved playing tennis and going swimming. And then when she was twelve, the parents decided that she and her sister needed to move to London for further education. Lagos did not have a good secondary education system, and therefore it was essential for the girls to go to a place where their higher education could be taken care of. So off went the Sukh sisters to London to live with their grandmother and uncle and to pursue their further studies. It wasn’t easy at all for the girls to build a life without their parents though of course they were with family. And since the extended family in London was responsible for every aspect of their lives, it decided to be quite strict with the girls. There was no going out, no partying and no late nights. So life revolved between school and home. But life in London also taught the girls to be independent and self-reliant. They learnt to cook for themselves, take care of themselves in an environment which was new and unfamiliar. But all through their stay in London the girls inspite of a lot of love and affection from the family missed their parents, their home and the feeling of living with their own family. After completing her A levels, Anaisha like her mother also decided to pursue homoeopathy, and so she took admission in The London College of Classical Homeopathy. Along with that, she also picked up several degrees and diplomas in the fields of Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Anatomy and Physiology.
On completing her education, she moved back to Lagos as her parents still lived there. At the age of twenty-five, Anaisha set up her homoeopathy clinic in Lagos and began a lifelong journey dedicated to beauty and wellness. Her mission was to find a nature-based, permanent solution to issues and to cure her patients from within. She wanted to create natural and long-lasting remedies to various health and beauty related issues rather than depending on artificial solutions which could lead to damaging side effects. So along with her mother, she started making scrubs, exfoliates, rice water, hair oil and many other natural creams and ointments to help their patients suffering from various ailments like eczema, hair fall, acne, psoriasis etc. This initiative led to what is now known as Ma Earth Botanicals, a name that is giving other names in this space a run for their money. The name Ma Earth brings out the ethos of the brand as all the products of the company are made up of ingredients that are derived from Mother Earth. The philosophy behind the brand is to create easy to use everyday products, products which can penetrate the skin and benefit the user on a mental, physical and emotional level.
On one of the trips to Lagos when Anaisha had gone to meet her parents she met Manoj, her future husband. They fell in love and though they lived in different parts of the world, she in London and he in Lagos they managed to keep their relationship alive. And when she moved back to Lagos she was all set to marry him but he didn’t have a job at that point in time and so wasn’t ready to settle down. So she had no choice but to wait. Though she was keen to marry him her parents were dead against the match and his not having a job was only one of the objections that they had. But finally when she refused to listen to them they had to give in. Her father got him a job and the two were able to get married.
Marriage did not affect Anaisha’s work life. She continued to work. The homoeopathy practice flourished, and she became quite well known in Lagos. But though she was tasting success in her professional life, her personal life was turning out to be a challenge. Life with Manoj was not easy. Her problems started from day one. What she had thought of him turned out to be completely different from what he actually turned out to be. He was like a typical ’Mama’s Boy’ whose existence revolved around his mother. So therefore as his wife she was expected to toe his mother’s line all the time with no questions asked. She was supposed to take care of all the household chores and also earn for herself which was probably why she could continue to work after marriage. But she wasn’t allowed to have any friends or visit her parents. She couldn’t have a life of her own. The environment in the house was extremely stifling and claustrophobic. She was lonely, miserable and isolated from the world. She was completely at the mercy of her mother in law and no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t come to terms with it. What was heartbreaking was a completely indifferent and callous attitude of the husband who couldn’t be bothered about her or her problems with his mother. Many times she tried talking to him but he was unwilling to see her point. It was as though his mother’s word was law which couldn’t be questioned by anyone. She tried compromising, adjusting to find a solution to her problems but nothing seemed to work. In the midst of all this turbulence and unpleasantness, she gave birth to her son, which though bringing a lot of happiness in her life could not change anything in her marital life.
Those years of her life were extremely challenging and troubled. She could adjust to a lot of things but what ultimately got to her was her husband’s affairs with other women and his family’s support and approval of his way of life. That was something she just couldn’t accept. At that point she decided that she couldn’t bring up her child in that kind of an environment and she herself could not let her life go waste .So after ten long years of trying to make things work, she gave up. She called up her mother telling her about what she wanted to do, packed her bags and walked out of her marriage. She moved back to India, which is where her parents lived at that time. With this began a struggle to rebuild her life, to start from scratch.
Life in India wasn’t easy at all. Initially, she lived with her parents, but after a while, she decided to move out and live her own life with her son, who was eight years old at that time. She wanted to give a good life to her child but with no help from anyone. She wanted to do it on her own. Where moving from Lagos, on the one hand, meant that she was a single parent now it also meant that she was no longer the economically independent, sought after doctor. She was now someone who had to depend on others for her emotional and financial needs. This change in her life affected her self esteem and confidence in a big way. But she wasn’t going to live like this for too long. She was itching to change the state of affairs and wanted to regain her financial independence but didn’t know how to.
She was very sure that she did not want to get back into homoeopathy. She wanted to do something different. Also, she was aware of the fact that it would not be easy for her to make a name for herself in India in homoeopathy as homoeopaths were to be found by the dozens in the country. She had a child to raise and so did not have the luxury of waiting for something to pick up. The country was new; the environment was alien, and the future was uncertain. But what wasn’t new or alien or uncertain was her spirit, her resolve to find a solution to all her problems.
So while her son was away at school, she decided to utilise her time to equip herself with skills that would give her the independence she craved. She enrolled herself in several courses like chocolate making, candle making, soap making and cosmetology. And when her son got back, then she was all his devoting all her time and energy towards taking care of his academic and other requirements. She had no friends and at that point didn’t want any. Her focus areas were her child and her economic independence. Very soon, she was able to start her baking business and started supplying her products to places like The American Embassy School, various cafes in the city and family and friends.
But at the same time, she was along with her mother trying her hand at making soaps and natural shampoos, to develop a range of natural skincare and hair care products. All their creations were tried on friends and family. Their attempt to provide healing solutions to people’s problems with their natural creations was received with a lot of love and appreciation. The response was tremendous, the feedback was excellent, and this motivated the mother-daughter duo to pick up from where they had left thirteen years ago. They decided to formally launch their brand Ma Earth Botanicals, in September 2013.
On the personal front, things started looking up for the mother and son, though Anaisha was unable to divorce her husband for a long time due to family pressure. For the longest time the family kept hoping that she would settle her differences with Manoj and go back to him but she had decided that she wasn’t going to do that. There was no way that she was going to go back to that oppressive environment. So finally after six years of having walked out, she managed to convince her family to let her file for the divorce and two years later after a long and exhausting struggle she managed to get the divorce.
Although she had to deal with a number of challenges on the personal front, a string of successes on the professional front way made up for all that. The company, backed by the excellent product range and the desire of the founders to make natural products a part of everyone’s everyday life, started making a name for itself. It wasn’t long before it started getting approached by several hotels and resorts starting with Andaz-Hyatt, New Delhi for their bathroom amenities and spa requirements. The name spread, and within six years, the company managed to make its presence felt across the country. Today their clients include The Four Seasons in Bengaluru, The Raas properties in Jodhpur, Chattrasagar and Devigargh Palace, The Alila properties in Goa and Jaipur among others.
Clearly, the company has grown and continues to do so. Though they are in a fiercely competitive space, the founders believe in growing organically. They feel that the company needs to grow at a steady pace, even though the pace may be slow. Anaisha believes that one’s work should speak for itself and that to her mind is the best form of publicity.
Life has not been easy for Anaisha. But now after a long struggle, she has reached a space where she has regained her independence in every possible way and has carved out a niche for herself in her chosen area. Her son is on the verge of joining college, and she has managed to give him the kind of upbringing that she had wanted to give. The journey has been tough, it has been long, but all the challenges, all the struggles have made this woman confident and gutsy.
Anaisha believes that if one is convinced about what one wants to do in life and backs it up with the requisite amount of hard work, then there is no stopping. One can scale whatever heights one wants to. Supremely confident and self-assured she is a new-gen woman for whom the sky is the limit. She is very hard on herself and will leave no stone unturned to accomplish what she has set out for the day no matter what.
Taking small but firm steps Ma Earth today is a force to reckon with. It has become a brand with a woman believing in patience, resilience, conviction and tons of hard work at its helm. The daughter of Vishin Sukh and Swarn Sukh, the mother of Ranbir Sukh, has indeed come into her own.