Herbline Essentials is a brand that knows a thing or two about natural beauty. Based on the ancient Indian principles of Ayurveda, the company’s skincare and haircare products are made entirely from natural ingredients sourced in the Himalayas. They’re also paraben-, paraffin-, and cruelty-free. We sat down with Aly Rahimtoola, founder and managing director, to learn more about the home-grown brand.
How did the idea for Herbline Essentials come about?
I had been living in Dubai for about ten years when I realised that there was a growing awareness amongst consumers who wanted natural or organic products, as well as an overall shift towards adopting a more holistic lifestyle. As a businessman or entrepreneur, I realised that there really wasn’t a truly natural product out there that addressed this, and so I created Essentials.
Why did you decide on the UAE as a base for the brand?
I have been living in Dubai for 19 years, but have been fortunate enough to previously live and work in the UK and the US, as well as travel widely in Europe and Asia. I knew that starting a business with an idea and building something in the UAE was possible, whereas in other markets the barriers to entry are far greater to scale. The fact that I live here and have been able to fine-tune the brand in its infancy is also a factor for choosing the UAE as a base, as one can do that first hand.
Where did you start with all the product development, design, and so on?
We have gone through various iterations on the product design and have worked with some very creative branding people. Product development is done with our R&D partners based in the Himalayas, who have over 30 years of experience in Ayurveda – it is all very much a team effort.
What difficulties did you face?
The biggest challenge is that retailers tend to want to only stock well-known brands. So, as a smaller brand, we have faced (and still do) resistance from retailers, but we persist and try to win the argument.
In a market that’s so saturated with skincare products, how do you maintain your alternative values?
We believe in spreading the message and explaining the benefits of using truly natural products, so our strategy has been to try to educate the consumer through various channels – print media, radio, social media, and also via bloggers and key opinion leaders, such as a Savoir Flair. I don’t think one can just put a nice picture on a poster and tell the consumer what to do. Thanks to the internet, consumers are far too clever to fall for gimmicks, so we have tried to build our brand through education.
What differentiates you from other “natural” brands?
Our products are based on the age-old principles of Ayurveda, which are over 4,000 years old. The tried-and-tested formulations truly work. If they didn’t, then these recipes wouldn’t exist today, as they would have been dispensed with by our ancestors. As I once said, “Ancient Wisdom – apply morning and evening”.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?
Having the ability to persist and continue despite many people telling me that I was going into a hugely competitive sector with no prior training in the field, as I come from a shipping and trading background.
How would you sum up the brand philosophy in a sentence?
Truly Natural Beauty is our strapline.
Herbline Essentials is available at all leading pharmacies and online at www.herbline-essentials.com.