Get to know the brands of the Naturally M/O Fellowship
Get to know the brands of the Naturally M/O Fellowship
Get to know the brands of the Naturally M/O Fellowship
Our newest blog series shares the stories of minority-owned natural brands
In our second M/O Fellowship Brand Feature, we share the stories behind three wellness brands that aim to make a difference for every consumer’s wellbeing as well as the health of the planet overall.
Their mission is in line with the vast majority of people worldwide, to protect the environment. In fact, 81% of global consumers say that it is “very” or “extremely important” that companies implement programs to protect the environment. This is an exciting time for these minority-owned brands to launch, given that sustainable innovations are 12% more likely to generate incremental brand growth than non-sustainable initiatives. Not only that, “clean” products, which can be defined as any product that is free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, fragrances + 600 other ingredients, are up 18% at $544 MM1.
Pure Mitti is on a mission to inspire a global movement where people adopt a more holistic and sustainable lifestyle. Suniti Ramanujam offers a complete range of sustainable solutions, created with the wisdom of Ayurveda and the modern-day awareness of our intertwined relationship with nature.
Personal care products contribute about 27% of all toxins entering the planet. Pure Mitti hopes to change this by offering natural skin care, hair care, home cleaning, and lifestyle solutions. Even their manufacturing practices strive to improve the lives of others. They partner with women farmers in rural south India to empower their economic wellbeing while maintaining authenticity and purity of ingredients.
Rif Care, which stands for Regenerative International Female, offers carbon-negative hemp-based products that are better for people and the planet. Their dedication to zero waste beauty supports 37% of consumers who report a desire for companies to reduce their amount of carbon emissions2.
Rif Care is making waves in the personal care industry with their clean product offering. Founders Val Emanuel and Rebecca Caputo created the world’s first line of period care products made from hemp fiber. Hemp is more absorbent, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and a readily available byproduct. In addition to hemp-based period products, Rif Care also sells Emanuel’s original CBD personal lubricant. The CBD lubricant promotes healthy blood flow, skin, and hormones.
This first-of-its-kind, mission-based company wants to improve the lives of all, which is why they donate 2% of all sales to women through programs that support victims of family violence and sexual assault.
Silk Road Wellness is a natural skincare and wellness brand, inspired by Islamic wellness traditions and Pakistani traditional remedies. The husband-and-wife duo behind the brand are passionate about sharing the wealth and benefits of these cultural traditions with the mainstream beauty industry.
Handcrafted and halal-certified, the Silk Road Wellness product line is designed to accommodate the personal beliefs of the largest overlooked market in the multi-billion-dollar beauty industry, though they have incredible buying power. Multicultural consumers actually over-index with clean beauty, making up about 1/3 of all clean beauty sales3.
Being halal-certified means they create their products with the highest standards, from ingredients to sources, business ethics to customer relations, and more. By following the traditions and handcrafting in small batches, they’re able to provide premium skin and body botanicals that are affordable, fresh and intriguing to everyone.
We must know – What inspired you to start your brand?
Suniti Ramanujam, Pure Mitti As an executive with National Geographic, I was constantly asking our audience to reflect on the environmental damage created by humans. While I was busy lobbying others for a better planet for future generations, I was determined to be the change. When we can have toxin-free alternatives that are far more effective for people and planet, without having to sacrifice our modern lifestyle, why would we not make the change?
I took inspiration from my personal experiences with my centurion great-grandmother in India, who looked to nature and Ayurveda for all her personal needs her entire life.
Rif Care, Val Emanuel About four years ago, I was having major hormone issues. I went through an entire life change, which included moving to organic period care. But I found that what was out there wasn’t that effective. There isn’t a lot of innovation aside from cotton.
Along with our hemp-based period products, we added my original-recipe, health-promoting CBD lubricant and launched our full-on regenerative hemp brand in August.
Annie Qaiser, Silk Road Wellness It was impossible to find wellness products that aligned with our views and requirements, so my husband and I created our own halal-certified natural beauty and wellness line! There are over 1.8 billion Muslims globally with minimal representation in the beauty and wellness space, and we would like to change that.
We hope to leave behind a legacy of awareness and accountability. When people make conscious decisions that impact the environment positively, we leave everything better than how we found it.
Tell us about your journey. What are some of the highs and lows?
Suniti Ramanujam, Pure Mitti Every product we use today is infused with chemicals. To completely make an impact towards a toxin-free lifestyle, Pure Mitti needed to create a range of solutions that are super effective without compromising people’s modern ways of living. This definitely posed various challenges, but today we have a range of products covering a consumer’s entire lifestyle needs in the home to go toxin-free. Working on a tight budget while creating awareness about the brand has been our biggest challenge and still continues to be.
Rif Care, Val Emanuel One of the things we’ve realized is that if you have a good brand, people will love you. One of the easiest things we’ve had to face is that people love us, stores love us.
The toughest thing is the pressure to scale quickly and grow rapidly. There are many other consumer brands to compete against. As we’re going through the startup phase, it’s putting things into perspective about why our growth is making sense for us now. It’s a slow process while we are growing intentionally.
Annie Qaiser, Silk Road Wellness In 2019 and early 2020, our newly founded business started gaining traction. Due to the pandemic’s arrival, in-person events and selling directly to customers stopped. Our business projections and finances nosedived as seemingly everything was shutting down. However, this situation was teaching us a major business survival strategy and we didn’t even realize it: pivoting. We quickly jumped into action.
Our basic e-commerce platform underwent a facelift to better service the multitude of orders coming in. Social media presence had to be prominent as this was our main way of reaching customers. As entrepreneurs, we are constantly learning, implementing, and improving each component of our business.
We’d love to hear about your experience with the M/O Fellowship. How is it going so far?
Suniti Ramanujam, Pure Mitti Being a part of the M/O program has opened so many doors – with fellow M/O’s, connections for fundraising, for operations and just to get brand awareness into the community. Every small win and small step we make does make a huge difference in our overall brand evolution and I am extremely grateful for M/O for making a difference with our initiative.
Rif Care, Val Emanuel We have done three accelerators already, but the M/O Fellowship is the only type a founder needs. It’s very hands-on. A lot of other accelerators talk about far-off concepts. This fellowship is specific: how do you make your sales deck, how do you get into retail, etc. With Naturally Network, we’re making introductions and opening doors that wouldn’t have been opened to us. It feels like a family.
Annie Qaiser, Silk Road Wellness The M/O Fellowship has provided us with a great network and learning opportunities.
What advice do you have for other minority business owners?
Suniti Ramanujam, Pure Mitti Just have patience and do it one step at a time. Small steps will eventually make the brand successful. Patience and endurance is key!
HRif Care, Val Emanuel Find mentors who are in your space and get into a consumer-focused accelerator. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people
Annie Qaiser, Silk Road Wellness Work hard and be flexible.
Now, the most important question of all: Where can we find your products?
Suniti Ramanujam, Pure Mitti You can shop our products on our website and on Etsy.
Rif Care, Val Emanuel You can find us in boutique stores, on amazon, and on our website.
Annie Qaiser, Silk Road Wellness You can find our products online and in local shops. Visit our website for a detailed list of locations.
We are so impressed by these founders and their journeys. If you want to continue to be inspired by their stories, follow along with our series in the upcoming weeks and be on the lookout for upcoming events with NielsenIQ and Naturally Network. In the meantime, check out a complete recap of our webinar here.
1NielsenIQ RMS, powered by Label Insight, Total US xAoc L52W ending 5/21/22; Beauty & Personal Care
2 NielsenIQ Omnibus Survey 2021, NielsenIQ Retail Measurement Services, NielsenIQ Product Insight
3NielsenIQ Omnipanel L52 week ending 3/26/2022
Naturally Network’s mission to elevate founders in the natural and organic food ecosystem goes hand in hand with our mission to help emerging brands compete at scale in retail.
NielsenIQ is equally proud to support Naturally Network’s Minority-Owned (M/O) fellowship by providing access to industry-leading category data and office hours with data experts. The MO Fellowship’s goal is to build a more accessible and equitable CPG industry at a time when 77% of founders are white, regardless of gender or education.
This program trains underrepresented founders in financial literacy, product development, sales, and overall business sustainability. Fellows attend weekly fireside chats to network with industry leaders and established founders.
Diversity and Inclusion are foundational to our culture at NielsenIQ. Our diverse values are present in everything we do, from product launches to data research and corporate principles to management practices. We strive for an inclusive culture where diversity of backgrounds, thoughts, and opinions is valued, encouraged, and promoted so that our associates can be themselves and feel empowered to contribute to NielsenIQ culture.
Through NielsenIQ’s partnership with Naturally Network, natural and organic brand members get access to NielsenIQ’s Byzzer to run three free reports to help power their retail success.
Byzzer puts the same data big brands are using into the hands of emerging businesses. Now, Naturally Network members can get free instant access to the Byzzer platform to run 3 reports to discover their brand’s opportunities and threats.
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Byzzer is the ideal solution for a small CPG manufacturer to get the insights they need, when they need them, at an affordable price.
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There’s a package within reach for every brand, even if you’re not on a shelf yet.
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