At 50, this mother decided to become an entrepreneur and build a soap brand that sells across India and the US

While Pratiksha Sangoi took care of her children and family for 29 years after marriage, she never thought of pursuing a job as her family ran a steel business. However, she had always dreamed of kickstarting a small venture of her own.

Amid the pandemic induced lockdown in 2020, when she could give herself some spare time, she started working on her long lost passion of making soaps at home for which she had previously completed a course.

When one of her neighbors complained about having acne, Pratiksha made a bar of soap for her out of compassion. To her surprise, the soap did wonders for the neighbor’s skin and the positive feedback motivated her to keep pursuing her dream.

Alongside her daughter Vama (22), Pratiksha started Soap Chemistry at her home in Dadar, Mumbai in 2020.

In an interview with HerStory on the occasion of Mother’s Day, Pratiksha talks in detail about her journey from being a homemaker to an entrepreneur, and how together with her daughter, she is on her way to building a global brand.

Making a strong move

Pratiksha says that entrepreneurship did not come to her by chance. For years, she had been yearning to start up something of her own. Hailing from a typical Gujarati family with a background in business, Pratiksha had a strong business acumen but she did not think starting up was her cup of tea.

“I did start a small handmade chocolate business initially, but it came as a surprise to me in-laws as in our family, daughters-in-law are responsible for house chores and taking care of the family – which is why for me following my passion always took a backfoot, ”Pratiksha tells HerStory.

But the pandemic allowed her enough time to pursue her passion.

Soap Chemistry’s peppermint and basil soap

“This time, I started the business saying that I was doing it for my daughter. Vama has pursued her BBA and rather than taking up a nine-to-five job, she wanted to pursue entrepreneurship. This was the right time as I thought that we both together could build something great. And, this time, the family also did not have any issue, ”she adds.

Pratiksha and Vama started Soap Chemistry out of a small room in their home. The duo invested Rs 2 lakh out of their savings, sourcing the raw materials locally initially.

The products, especially the soaps, are made by Pratiksha herself and all the marketing is done by Vama. In a span of a little over two years, Soap Chemistry has expanded into almost 60 SKUs in different categories, including moisturisers, whipped soap, body salts, scrubs, hair removal, powder, lip balms, etc, with outsourced laboratory tests being done in Mumbai itself.

Soap Chemistry sells products through exhibitions and by via Instagram and Facebook orders as of now.

Creating her own identity

For Pratiksha, starting up at 50 was a bit offbeat but she says that this gave her an independent identity.

“It was not about freedom or anything else but using my talent and skill. So, even at 50, I am making the best out of it and that makes me happy, ”Pratiksha says in delight.

Creating a brand comes with its own set of challenges, especially when the entrepreneur is a homemaker who has never traveled places for work. Through her daughter’s support, Pratiskha has, to date, been a part of more than 20 exhibitions, including the one in Goa. The brand-building activities have made Pratiksha an outgoer, and she is willing to make this consistent in her journey.

Pratiksha making soaps in her kitchen

To date, Soap Chemistry has earned a revenue of Rs 25 lakh and has created a customer base across India and in the US as well. Pratiksha and Vama claim that their products are cruelty-free, and do not have SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate), paraben or any harsh chemicals.

The future

Pratiksha and Vama say that the market has huge potential. According to a report titled ‘India Personal Wash Market Outlook 2021’ by Bonafide Research, personal wash products are expected to clock a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 8.45 percent till 2020.

“You see, people come with different skin problems and there is so much that can be done. The positive feedback from our customers keeps us going and I think there’s no looking back, ”says Pratiksha.

By this year, the mother-daughter duo are planning to expand their product range as well as their presence – both in India and abroad. Their D2C website is under construction and soon, they would be listed on ecommerce portals as well, Vama says.

Before signing off, Vama gave a strong message for all the mothers and homemakers out there who are struggling to take a stand for themselves as she says that taking care of yourself is not a crime.

“Our moms should take out time to listen to their inner calling. There is no remedy to lead a good life than being happy, ”Vama ends the interview on this note.