The popularity of natural skincare and healthcare is ever on the rise. With time, people are becoming more cautious about the health of their skin, hence, the increasing demand for non-toxic healthcare products.
Asha Noor, a Bangladeshi entrepreneur, has stepped up to fill the void of natural skincare in the local market with a unique enterprise - Holy.
‘Holy: The spirit of nature’ is an online-based natural skincare and healthcare brand that started its journey four years ago. Asha Noor, the founder of the brand, started the business because back then, there was no reliable brand in our country that sold natural skincare products.
“I decided to switch from chemical-based products — loaded with unsafe ingredients — to natural products that would not damage my skin.”
“But I could not find even a single brand that sold good-quality basic skincare ingredients like sandalwood powder, wild turmeric powder, or neem powder,” recalls Asha.
She realised there may be many others who have the same need.
“I just created a Facebook page, shared a post, and was taken aback by the overwhelming response,” she says smilingly regarding the beginning of Holy with foreign and authentic products.
She understood there is a huge demand for natural skincare and healthcare products in Bangladesh that has not been catered to yet.
From aromatherapy essentials to herbal teas
“We started the business with one product - neem powder. And currently, we sell around 450 natural products at Holy, imported from various countries,” shares Asha.
She decided to collect products from foreign countries because those were not available in Bangladesh. First, she contacted Indian sellers because Ayurveda is widely practiced in India and numerous species of herbs are found there.
Then she reached Italian sellers and gradually expanded Holy’s supplier network, which now spans 20 countries.
Some of Holy’s bestsellers include hair oil, wild turmeric powder, white sandalwood powder, beetroot powder, and moringa powder. You can also buy raspberry, cranberry, gooseberry, mulberry, etc. that have proven benefits for skin and health, both in dried and powder forms at Holy.
Holy sells around 25 varieties of imported carrier oils including rosehip oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, etc.; and popular varieties of imported essential oils including argan oil, carrot seed oil, lavender oil, etc.
On top of all these, Holy sells 48 types of herbal teas — chamomile flower tea, peony rose tea, black goji berry tea, womb detox tea, six treasure tea, apple flower tea, matcha green tea, to name a few.
Asha attributes her business’s growth to the growing customer demands, “Customers trust Holy as a platform to buy all-natural products. So they started demanding various products and we started collecting them from foreign countries.”
Synthetic chemicals found in many mainstream skincare and healthcare products like sulphates, mineral oils, parabens, silicones, etc. can be detrimental to your skin and overall health. That’s why consumers now want all-natural products rich in vitamins and antioxidants, which make them highly nutritional for skin.
These natural products are just as potent and effective as their chemical counterparts. For instance, drinking chamomile flower tea can be used as a natural treatment for sleeping troubles, instead of taking sleeping pills. While side effects of sleeping pills can be dangerous, chamomile tea is a much safer and more effective alternative that improves overall sleep quality. The best part? It has no side effects.
On being asked about potential side effects of the natural products that Holy sells, Asha says she has never received any such feedback to date.
She asserts, “Preventing side effects boils down to understanding your own skin type and how different products may affect you. If you know certain products can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction, you should avoid those.”
Say you have oily skin but unwittingly you use evening primrose oil, which has a thick consistency. Such a selection of wrong products can definitely cause breakouts. In this case, you should have instead used any non-comedogenic oil like rosehip oil.
That’s why Asha puts detailed information regarding the benefits of each product, backed by scientific research, on Holy’s Facebook page.
Asha believes business owners have to earn the trust of customers in order to build a truly loyal customer base. She aims to best serve the needs of Holy’s customers by providing quality products and exceeding their expectations.
“Selling one product is actually easy. But when customers come back and make repeat purchases, that is when a brand can say it has earned customers’ trust,” she remarks.
She notes that Holy has sold 3,000 hair oil bottles so far which wouldn’t be possible without customer’s trust. She also mentions that she has never used any extravagant promotional tool for Holy.
“Our customers always return, make repeat purchases, and recommend our products to their friends and family. We grew solely due to word-of-mouth marketing, even in a sector that was not very established at the outset.”
Asha Noor’s dreams
While many businesses shrank during the pandemic, Holy thrived due to the increased awareness about the benefits of natural products during that period.
Asha shares that she has plans to further expand her business to offline platforms by introducing hair oil first through Holy’s own outlet.
She picked hair oil to go with first because of the positive feedback shared by customers about their experience and satisfaction with the product.
She has already sent the hair oil for examination to Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) and Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC). After the processes are complete, she hopes to launch this product and gradually other products to the offline market. She also aspires to open a Thai-inspired aromatherapy salon in Bangladesh.
For now, all Asha wants is her customer’s satisfaction which she aims to increase every day.