How Lisa Mattam built a clean skincare brand applying science to Ayurveda called Sahajan

For the 51st episode of StartWell’s Podcast, we sat down with Lisa Mattam – the Toronto based founder of Sahajan. This unique clean skincare company develops Ayurveda based products with the rigor of scientific testing to ensure best in class performance from plant based ingredients.

Inspired when her daughter covered herself in makeup one day, Lisa’s entrepreneurial journey has seen the foundation of a category-leading brand that has taken immense commitment and effort to take to market.

In a rush? Here are some highlights from this conversation

  • Entrepreneurship and skincare products. (0:00)
  • Entrepreneurship, leadership, and diversity. (2:55)
  • Skincare, family traditions, and wellness. (6:32)
  • Launching a natural skincare brand with Ayurvedic ingredients. (10:20)
  • Beauty industry trends and brand authenticity. (13:39)
  • Starting a beauty brand in 2015 with a focus on clean ingredients and Sephora accelerator validation. (22:16)
  • Building a clean beauty brand with early adopters and retail partners. (25:21)
  • Shopping channel marketing strategies. (28:43)
  • Live TV product promotion with nervous host. (32:02)
  • Brand messaging and customer needs during pandemic. (39:46)
  • Marketing and branding during the pandemic. (43:03)
  • Brand identity and customer connection. (45:44)
  • Branding, authenticity, and connection in the entrepreneurial journey. (49:01)

Spend time with this conversation - here's the full transcript

Lisa Mattam 0:00
Life really took me in a really interesting direction. I was pregnant at the time, I had already had one child, like I was traveling, and I came home. And my daughter had gotten into my skincare when I was a shoe because she was almost three. Okay, yeah. So she had gotten into my skincare she was she had all of her face or arms like everywhere, super thick. Like, you know, the way that kids play with mommy. I know exactly what it was. And she was like, looking at me. And I remember looking up to her and thinking like, oh my gosh, so cute. And my gosh, probably like a million dollars on your face. And then thinking, oh my gosh, you have to take that

Qasim Virjee 0:33
off. Your sister's gonna kill you.

Lisa Mattam 0:34
I have no idea was toxic. This is toxic, right? Everything that I buy says like anti fatigue, anti wrinkle like, gosh, if my skincare isn't good enough for her, it probably isn't good enough for me. Yeah.

Qasim Virjee 0:48
Founded in 2017 Start well, is Toronto's independent hub for innovators to collaborate. Our podcasts relate perspectives from the world's most diverse urban population to reflect unique insights into global business, media, and culture. So this is the 51st episode of the start, well, podcast. So it's a pleasure to celebrate what I feel like is kind of it's not just a new year, but it's like we're officially kind of we just kicked off the new season with the 50th episode. And so this is the beginning of a new season for 2023. And it's awesome to have you in the studio. Lisa, Madame

Lisa Mattam 1:29
madame. Yeah, thank you so much. I'm so glad to be here.

Qasim Virjee 1:31
I'm Lisa, your company, and we're sitting down with some products on the table. But your company is called Saajan? Yes. Before we dig into this array of wonderful things in amazing packages, and the brand. Let's backtrack a bit, I'd love to hear because you are an entrepreneur, this is your company. How did you find your way into entrepreneurship? Was it a product like something that you needed to develop that made you an entrepreneur? Or have you always been an entrepreneur? Oh,

Lisa Mattam 2:01
that's a really good question. Because I would have told you when I worked in corporate that I wasn't an entrepreneur. But if I look back on my life, I clearly was. And so you know, I can actually pinpoint different businesses through high school through undergrad, just different opportunities that I that I took on, but always with the vision that I was going to be this corporate person. And so I started my career in the pharmaceutical industry. Okay, so working in small biotech, and then eventually big biotech. So my last formal job was with j&j in their biotech division, being a marketer on their biggest brand at the time. So

Qasim Virjee 2:37
internal marketing for pharmaceutical. Yeah, so we weren't so many.

Lisa Mattam 2:41
This is gonna sound like not exciting at all. But my last role was working on a drug that was, again, biggest drug at the time for j&j was for anemia of chronic kidney disease. And I worked on marketing and strategy. Yeah. And it was interesting, because if you had met me, then I was a full, corporate Moony in the sense of like, I believed in the organization, I, you know, when you work in corporate, you can see the path and you're so passionate about succession planning, and, and it's your world,

Qasim Virjee 3:11
it's your world, it really is especially right Oh, shading, the hierarchy, the hierarchy

Lisa Mattam 3:15
and really understanding like, and it's amazing, because as someone who runs a small company, now you have this huge organization and everything about it, I'm a big community person. And so, you know, in high school, I was student council president, and in university, I did all these things. So it kind of felt like an extension of all those experiences. And then not planned. And for a number of reasons, I decided to leave pharma and I put out a shingle and consulting, and part of it was, you know, feeling very inspired after working in pharma about, I just, I felt like there was this huge capacity to do more with younger leaders to do more development around leaders around diversity around women. And I could really see the gaps when I was working in corporate. And I just thought, there's so many things we could do better. And so I want to start working in this area. And then I also consulted back into Pharma. So I went into consulting that was really my first foray into entrepreneurship because I laugh now and my parents, I think were shaking their heads at the time, I was going, like, engaged to be married. My I think my mother in law thought I was like getting ready to sit home and like eat bonbons or something because she heard I'd quit my job. And, you know, gave up the company cars. I was like taking the bus everywhere. And but I was really, really passionate that we could do things better. We could do things better for younger leaders. And we could do things just to to make strategy, diversity, everything better. And so I ended up starting this practice which grew and we consulted back to Big Pharma to oil and gas to consulting to Crown corporations. I did a lot of work, particularly in pharma was consulting back more strategy wise, having had that experience, and then more broadly, we did a lot of leadership work, work on the advancement of women and work On the advancement of diversity, and I wrote a paper with Riva south who had written a, an award winning book, at the time about how corporations can better incorporate moms into the workplace, and how we could accelerate the, the, the work of mothers in the workplace.

Qasim Virjee 5:16
And this was around what time like how many years,

Lisa Mattam 5:17
this would have been. So I So So hodgen, launched late 2015. Although when I did launch it, I was still consulting. But so would have been, you know, the seven years prior that we that I really grew the practice, it was amazing it you know, we did amazing things, I was traveling all over the place. And we were talking about your travels before this, it took me to Bahrain, and you know, a lot through the US, mostly, and some through Europe, but it was a really, really great opportunity. And I think the amazing thing about that transition, because I was going from a very corporate environment, I was still consulting back to corporate, you know, I was giving some of my time to non profit, and I was doing some pro bono work. But it was a format that I understood, but I could really wet my feet into entrepreneurship in that way. And again, at the time, I would have thought this is this is exactly where I'm meant to be and where I'm meant to go. And then you know, life happens, and you see opportunities, and you get excited, and you get passionate and life really took me in a really interesting direction. I was pregnant at the time, I had already had one child, and I came home I remember was like, I was traveling, and I came home. And my daughter had gotten into my skincare. She was almost three. Okay, yeah. So she had gotten into my skincare, she was shattered all of her face or arms like everywhere, super thick. Like, you know, the way that kids play with Mommy, I'm pretty I'm big. I know exactly what it was. And she was like, looking at me. And I remember looking up to her and thinking like, oh my gosh, so cute. And my gosh, probably like a million dollars on your face. And then thinking, oh my gosh, you have to take that

Qasim Virjee 6:53
off, this is gonna kill you.

Lisa Mattam 6:55
I have no idea was toxic, this is toxic, right? Everything that I buy says like anti fatigue, anti wrinkle, like turn back the hands of time. That was my you know, that was my primary reason for buying skincare. And so I remember going up the stairs and saying like, no, if you want to play with things, this is not good for you. So if you want to play with things, these are things you should play with. And my parents had come back on a recent trip from India. And so they had these bottles of oils and different sorts of ingredients from India. And I said, this is what you play with. And I remember standing there thinking, gosh, if my skincare isn't good enough for her, it probably isn't good enough for me. Yeah. And if this is what I really believe in, like, if this is when you know, when your gut check or your intuition or whatever it is like floating there,

Qasim Virjee 7:37
it's like in that moment, this is very important to me. And this is something that is easy for me to affect change with, like weight. Yeah,

Lisa Mattam 7:46
I need to spend some time here. And so it took me on a personal journey to what I perceive to be family tradition to really be steeped in this science. That's iron VEDA, which is the ancient science, you know, sort of wellness science of India, and my parents being from the south of India. This is more than you ever want to know. But you know, when the British at all to everything. When they came to India, they wanted to extinguish your VEDA. And so what ended up happening was I already went on underground and moved to the south. And so now if you want to go on on your Vedic retreat, you want to go for an IRA that whatever you end up where my parents are from, and so are they from Kerala? Oh, yes. Yeah,

Qasim Virjee 8:27
beautiful place. From what I gather, I haven't even gone no. That's one of those things for so many years, I kept saying, It's its own place. I'm not going to add it to another India trip where I'm in like Bombay, for meetings, zones moved down to Kerala. I was like, Okay, I need 234 weeks to be down there. Soak it up and explore.

Lisa Mattam 8:48
It's an incredible place. It's incredibly Lush. My parents both grew up in farming families, so they could, you know, pick ingredients from the garden from whatever they wanted, you know, almost plantations of source of sorts. So, you know, I perceive that when my parents put turmeric on a pimple or they oil my hair that was more tradition based.

Qasim Virjee 9:08
Yeah, you're like, This is just something they do. You know what I mean?

Lisa Mattam 9:11
It's exactly

Qasim Virjee 9:12
it's like, if you grew up in Canada, I

Lisa Mattam 9:13
grew up in Canada, born in Canada, so I was like, you know, I get it. You know, I've watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding, like turmeric is to Indians. You know what windex is to the Greeks. Like, that's what I had limited it to. And then I started to really open my eyes to this incredible science, right? And then having grown up in science myself, I thought, why did it take me so long to get here? Because for the most part, I try and live a life of wellness. I was an early person to yoga. I grew up in a family where my dad really believed in a lot of the spiritual and physical benefits of like a whole life like we had to chant when we were like, when I broke up with my first boyfriend, it's like write a letter and set it on fire. Yeah, exactly. Beautiful. Oh, yeah. At the time, I was like, could you just be normal?

Qasim Virjee 9:58
Yeah, and then you realize This is a lesson and catharsis, this exact feeling and

Lisa Mattam 10:03
everything. Oh my god, he taught me how to deal with everything. And so and I realized it's because when I buy skincare, I buy it for results, I buy it because I don't want to look old or tired or whatever my issue of

Qasim Virjee 10:13
Yeah, or you buy it because it's marketed to you. Is it smart to solve some problem that you think you suddenly have? Yes.

Lisa Mattam 10:20
And so but I was like, you know, at the end of the day, I know that these old world ancient but time tested high performing ingredients can work. I know it. Intuitively I know it in my heart, I know it in my gut. And so why don't I take this and use the scientific rigor in which I was in, took my career and blend the two together. So there was born sahaja. And so actually, what's funny is, is I had a baby two weeks later, and I can remember like, for six weeks into his life, going to meetings, we hired a chemist chemists from Glaxo's, a former GlaxoSmithKline chemists to come in and build the first formulations we work with to Irv, the doctors in India on the formulas because they wanted it to be true to the essence of iomega. But really deliver in a high performing way. And also in a modern way. Because if you're in India, some

Qasim Virjee 11:12
little part of something that you put in the fridge Exactly. And then you can also spread it on your toes.

Lisa Mattam 11:18
Or you put it on your face, and it's red, but you don't really care because everybody else or it smells like you put your face into the garden. Yeah. So we had to we had to modernize, but prove it. And so

Qasim Virjee 11:30
what was that first product like was it one product that you set about developing or so

Lisa Mattam 11:34
we set about it was a collection. And actually if you look at our iteration, as a brand, you can see that I didn't come from skincare or beauty because I came from the perspective that I Aveda is all about nourishing yourself from head to toe. So we're gonna have a hair oil, a body oil, and then face and I remember bringing on an advisor a couple months before we launched, and he was from YSL. And he was like, where's your cleanser? And I was like, oh, no, I'll get there. And he's like, who launches a brand without a cleanser like and I said no, I'm launching an Ayurvedic brand like that is that is ultimately the focus. And so we started with this five piece collection, it was really about nourishment, bringing you back to your healthiest center, but addressing skin needs. So like our nourish Creamery, which we have clinicals on, which is typical of like very conventional beauty that, you know, you see, you walk into a department store, and you see like 100% of people experience this, we we we ran those clinicals against those products. And they stood up against those, I remember getting the call from a lab in New Jersey saying we've never had a natural or clean product deliver these results. So I was like, perfect. That's exactly what I needed it to do. But using these again, these ingredients from iron VEDA which have proven themselves, but now we need to show the science behind them. So that's really how we got started.

Qasim Virjee 12:51
And this set of five products, this is a classic like Christmas box at the end, you walk into like any kind of cosmetic place for a gift. And it there's the set. Well,

Lisa Mattam 13:02
what's funny is actually wasn't the set that was I think the point of the advisor was like this doesn't make sense. Because nobody cares at the time. They were like people don't care enough about their hair. And I was like an IRA that like we're we're obsessed with our hair. We're obsessed, we think that the hair is a reflection of your health, right? And we like a lot of hair and big hair. And it's a partially cultural, partially religious or not religious story in the science. And so, so wasn't your classic boxsets but it was really

Qasim Virjee 13:29
the expectations of of that box set. You know, like, did you have to when you looked at the industry, the kind of like, are we talking cosmetics?

Lisa Mattam 13:39
Would you say beauty industry? Sure beauty industry,

Qasim Virjee 13:40
when you started looking at kind of like the competitive landscape or what people are expecting when they walk into the shop? What are the core products that people in the kind of like let's call it, Western traditions are expecting to purchase.

Lisa Mattam 13:57
So what's changed over the last number of years because the way that we consume media has made us look differently at beauty. So in the past, you would have needed a brand to launch with a collection so that you could get your routine you could get your cleanser and your toner and your serum and your cream. But what's interesting about what's happened in the last is one beauty brands can have these like hero standout products, where it's like, I I'm willing to try other things, but I you know, this is my serum or this is my sunscreen or whatever. But also the evolution of social media has allowed some brands to grow off of a product, you know, something that's just wildly innovative. And so I think the way consumers are making choices is continuing to evolve and at such a rapid rate because of social media. So

Qasim Virjee 14:39
expectations of what a product can offer them changes the relationship between products that are of different brands changes. And then the personalization. I think taking ownership of personalizing your array of solutions. Absolutely beauty and longetivity whatever is right is it becoming us objective journey.

Lisa Mattam 15:00
It really is. And I think, you know, I think the one of the biggest takeaways for me, which I didn't expect or understand when I went into this, is how much the authenticity, and the founder and the founders relationship with the brand, that all of that, I mean, it was so inherent to me, and I was so passionate about that. But now, as you're seeing brands evolve, and you're seeing, you know, celebrities launch their own brands, and different things that are happening is people are saying no, like, we want to, we want, we want people who've grown up with this tradition, or we want somebody who solved their own problems, and we want to learn from them. They really want authenticity, transparency, word

Qasim Virjee 15:40
capital A right. It's definitely the thing that we keep hearing in the last few years. It's something that even my brand, you know, stands for, is really kind of like relating the truth in why you're in market for something, you know, and I like this, the product market fit question shouldn't necessarily be a marketing problem that creates the product, but you know, perhaps a personal need to solve something. And it makes sense that people connect with it. And it makes sense that like our, you know, the accessibility that social media affords people. You know, to be sustainable as a brand, you need to keep telling a story or be true to the story. What a wonderful beginning to the journey, because this has now been how many years it's Hodgins been your third baby.

Lisa Mattam 16:31
This is my this is it's hard to believe. And I when I say this, I can't imagine him. It's been seven years. Wow, seven years, seven years. It's incredible. Are there?

Qasim Virjee 16:42
So paint the picture of the journey? I know, it's a loaded question, because seven years is a long time. But if there was a beginning, middle and end, let's keep it simple that way. The beginning stage where you're doing your product testing your product evolution, what were your expectations of how you would get it to market where you could sell it? How you would communicate the availability of the products that you're developing? Oh,

Lisa Mattam 17:08
such a good, good question. So the beginning, I think at the end of the day, I'm, there's a pragmatism of me. And I have, I think having come from pharma, you know, I had to make sure that we had checked off things. So like the regulatory piece and making sure that it worked. And I gave it to 25 people first before we launched, and we went into full tech transfer into a lab and all that stuff to make sure that everything was was done right. But what I didn't see happening and in Canada, so we launched I remember sitting with my advisor and saying, Should we launch in Canada or the US and him saying, what does that mean? And I said, I don't know. Like, I just sometimes wonder, like I said, these are things that I think about at night. And it was interesting, because when we launched so late 2015, we did a lot. So we did two things that I thought were that for me were important at the time, we did a gifting we did the gifting lounge at TIFF, because, one it was such it was such an awesome experience. But I wanted to because I could see that the indie, indie beauty community was starting to really come together, both in Canada and the US. But you could also see that there was this part of the LGBT community that was like, I make soaps in my home. And I'm, you know, I have sometimes I like at sea craft to be crafty, which are all awesome things. But I wanted to assert that this is a brand that I saw on the global stage, right. And so we're gonna, I'm gonna start this from the beginning. And then the other cool thing that came out of doing this gifting lounge was celebrities are often very early to trends. And so they were the first ones, you know, as people were coming through, I remember talking to Brie Larson. And she was like Kerala, I Aveda, like, I lived in Kerala for this many weeks. And I, you know, and here's this Oscar winning actress saying to me, like, Oh, I've been to an Ayurvedic center, and this is what I've done. And I was like, hold up what it like, and this is, so So we did this. And so really validated

Qasim Virjee 18:58
just for our audience, the international audience, especially. So tiff being the

Lisa Mattam 19:02
Toronto International Film Festival, I think, don't hold me to this, but it's the second largest film festival in the world. Yeah. Am I right about that? Well,

Qasim Virjee 19:10
yeah. Second day, Can

Lisa Mattam 19:12
Am I right?

Qasim Virjee 19:12
Well, I would say in terms of market importance, it's second or third, it's part of the the core circuit, right? So depending on the nature of your film, what you want as a filmmaker in terms of the outputs for distribution, or sales or exhibition contracts, you know, you go to different festivals, and shop for different awards kind of thing. But it's definitely in the top five in the world, in terms of importance to filmmakers. And it's the number one festival in the world for audience feedback. So filmmakers love bringing things to tiff because our audiences, apparently are very representative of a global audience. In one place. Oh, I didn't know that. Yeah. And so filmmakers have told me for many years that that's what they love about this festival. In the early days. It was also the culture of the festival effect that was all over town and everything. Then when it became you know, at the lightbox, it was a little bit more productize a little bit more kind of like had a sheen to it. But the city people love when it comes alive because of the audience during the festival. So and then the gifting center or gifting What is this gift allow? So

Lisa Mattam 20:19
yeah, so you've probably seen like, maybe in a magazine or on a show like what did the celebrities get in their Oscar gift bag? Or what did they get in there? So it for the Toronto International Film Festival, there was there's a gifting lounge. And so it's it's essentially the celebrities come through, they have an opportunity to experience different brands. Serral was the key sponsor of the one that I was involved with

Qasim Virjee 20:42
the festival gifts things. And it's also that kind of like, yeah, okay, I see, I see, like the reception, registration, maybe private registration kind of vibe for people that aren't showing films or participating

Lisa Mattam 20:55
participating in films and stuff, primarily actors that are coming through. And it's an opportunity for them to often interact with brands that you know, in our world, you know, Canadian brands, for them to get to try, you know, for brands themselves. Like I remember talking to the person from Serral, she gifted every celebrity, a pair of boots that

Qasim Virjee 21:18
they love ik that's so Canada, which is best,

Lisa Mattam 21:22
the best, but then all of a sudden, you know, you are in a magazine, and you see some celebrities skiing, and they're wearing the swirl boots, right. So as a brand, the opportunity is to make great connection, and to inspire and to get, you know, activity and interaction around your brand. And then for the actors, it's a chance for them to really immerse themselves in some of the up and coming brands, particularly for tiff within Canada. So that was something that we read introduction for your brand, it was fantastic. And it really, I think, for me set the stage and set us apart. And it allowed me because we had gifts of the product like Tom Hardy putting the hair oil on his beard, and we had some really interesting people come through. And so it also allowed me when I needed to, when I wanted to take to retail or I wanted to do all these things to say, one look his interaction with the brand. But it kind of again asserts that this is where I see the brand, this is what I'm willing to invest against the brand. So we did that. And then we did like a proper press event two weeks later, but it was an interesting thing when I look back because it was you know, magazines, fashion magazine, Toronto based beauty magazines, influencers who at that time weren't didn't play the role that they did now. Yeah, things have changed a lot. Things have changed so much. And I remember two things. One, I remember nobody knew like very few people knew the word I or VEDA they actually asked me to spell it. I remember sitting within

Qasim Virjee 22:41
a decade this is you're talking like when Facebook was coming out. 2008 Right. Yeah. Yeah.

Lisa Mattam 22:47
So this was 2015. So like, Facebook is out. Instagram is just starting to be cool. Yeah. And, and so you know, I remember oh, you should sign up for Instagram and get an Instagram account. And, and so people didn't know. But I Aveda I was trying to make the strong connection to meditation and yoga, because I read in yoga, her sister practices, and yoga was hot. And I remember that. And I remember a beauty editor saying to me, Well, where are you sold? And I said online? And she was like, well, that's not anything. Go get a retailer, like that's

Qasim Virjee 23:18
a backup plan. Yeah. Go get one sells anything on E commerce. This is like the pre Shopify revolution.

Lisa Mattam 23:25
It's exactly it was when Shopify existed. But you know, there wasn't, it wasn't what it is now. And so when I think about the beginning, I characterize those first couple of years as as planting seeds. As really having joined the industry in a time when it was changing, I was able to be involved in the first accelerator with Sephora. Oh, wow. And so at the time they wanted to it was partially they recognized at the time that, you know, my numbers might be off now. But let's say 98% of their clientele is women. I think it was something like 85 or 88% of the brands that they carried were run by men. So there was a huge disconnect. And the question that they were trying to answer was like, why weren't women founded businesses? Getting to the stages, right? And so they identified very early stage businesses that they believed in five 710 years could redefine the future of beauty. So my cohort was mostly people who had launched within six months, this is all Toronto based or this is all actually all in the US. So I was the only Canadian in the program and at the time, it now that I could now that I know them, and we laugh about it, because I had read the press release, a friend sent it to me, I sent them a note saying, Can I apply? They wrote back and said it's by invitation only. Thanks. You know, thanks. But no, thanks. Oh, no. And then two hours later, I get an email that says okay, you can apply but your application is due tomorrow. And so I was like, Okay, here we go. Yeah, let's fill out that form. Yeah, and you had to take a video like and like talk about why you know, why them and why you and I remember finishing my application at midnight and my husband saying like, I don't think you should take the video right now. Like Maybe go to sleep, and then take the video part. But the Sephora accelerator was such an incredible opportunity, again, incredible validation for the brand for the positioning the, you know, the clean portion. But I also remember they had someone who was in innovation saying to me, just so you know, like when we look at trends, clean is a few years from now. So now if you go to Sephora, there's a clean at Sephora. There's Alta, if you're in the US, there's, you know, that sort of revolution around clean is coming, but it's not yet mainstream. And so she said to me, I or Vedas probably a few years after that, but you know, you've got something you just got ahead of the curve. Yeah, stick with it just exactly what she said. So she said, Go, you know, there's some beautiful retailers in the US that are sort of the OG clean beauty. So she said, go launch there, go build a community, go build a reputation, and really dig deep. And I think what you'll find is one, there'll be new entrants, and so you won't feel like you're standing on your own in this in this world, and you need competitors to

Qasim Virjee 26:03
create a category. Right? An interesting bit of advice. Yeah.

Lisa Mattam 26:08
And she said in and just, you know, almost like build, build, build, and then and then watch and see how it unfolds as she was right. So how did it unfold? So I'd like to think we're in middle. Okay. Yeah. How did it unfold? You know, it was so we are in those retailers were credo beauty in the US. So

Qasim Virjee 26:26
what was that journey? Like? Were you literally going door to door to talk to retailers?

Lisa Mattam 26:30
Oh, it was like, it's a real grind, right? It's a grind. I remember reaching out and then saying, No, we don't need you. And then me reaching it again. And then you know, and then just your, your, you know, I'm sending press and I'm saying look, you know, our cleanser won this, or our cream did this. And, and so it's it's a grind, it's knowing the right levers to push, it's an access as a huge thing. So I was constantly if I was trying to connect with someone did I know someone who could help me advocate for me, helped make these things true, as I mentioned, like things like having photos from this tiff gifting lounge, telling people that it was in the Sephora accelerator really, I think also gave a nod

Qasim Virjee 27:09
to social truth. It's interesting, because like, I could see that also, there's probably a discrepancy between stockists that buy do they buy product on consignment or everyone buys? And then that's it. Like they'll place an order if they're ready to carry your product, or will they carry you on consignment?

Lisa Mattam 27:27
So mostly, they place an order? Okay, depending on the size of the retailer, there may be some nuance in the contract that says if it doesn't sell

Speaker 3 27:36
you got to take you gotta take about it's like the Walmart's Yes, it's exactly like the Walmart's

Qasim Virjee 27:41
is like yeah, we're essentially just issuing you the purchase orders. Like it's, it's basically a loan. Exactly. Like, here's 90 days to get your product together. And it's going to short term finance you to try and sell this to someone else when we give it back to

Lisa Mattam 28:02
it's tough it is it's retail is a is a tough grind, really important because that's how people discover and being clean, like the, again, early adopters to clean beauty. That's where they were going. But it was it was so yeah, it was a grind it was it was doing all those things and planting seeds and finding the right partners. In Canada, it was well.ca was well it was our very, very first partner. And I remember her looking at the products and going because I didn't know what she didn't know what I Aveda was and she said, I'll take a chance on you. You seem really nice, but the opening order was $200 Oh, wow. And so I was like Okay, great. This barely pays for all my TTC. Yes. This

Qasim Virjee 28:43
week. That's not much money. It's

Lisa Mattam 28:44
not and and so we had to grow. And then it became the shopping channel in Canada. Okay, that's interesting. Very interesting. Wow,

Qasim Virjee 28:52
who would have ever thought that you know, that you'd sell stuff on the shopping channel? Is the shopping channel still on television? Oh, 100% people buy stuff on the shopping channel. So how does that work? Is it like, I feel like this is now a bad anecdote. I don't know if I should go there. Now. This is like, some horrible comedy show those on like Apple TV recently, but is it that kind of, you know, made fun of this whole shopping channel thing? But am I right? And like you get a spot on the shopping channel to take your product to live to air. And you got to flog it. Yes. You have to sell it to the audience live? Yes. And they're watching the data. Yeah. And if the data doesn't come back good because you're not essentially, you know, selling it well enough selling it your soapbox pitch is not good enough. And you're not really like you know, an actor, or otherwise super authentic. Whatever it is, you've got your shot. And if you if you blow it you're done. 100% like that. If you don't blow it, you gotta keep going back and you work at like 4am until you sell enough that they give you the Prime in primetime slot. Yes. How it works, basically.

Lisa Mattam 30:02
I mean, in Canada, it's a little different because we're a smaller market, but essentially that is how it works. It's you go, that I'll be honest, and they're a great partner. When someone had said to me, you should go on the shopping channel, I was like, what? Like, isn't that the place where you buy like, I don't know if massagers and fake jewelry and like spider monkey head massager. So like I hadn't, I think I knew it more from Bridget Jones diary than I did from watching it. And and I remember was actually someone from a really big beauty brand saying no, no, no, that's where people discover because we you don't realize she said to me was like, there are people who keep the shopping channel on in the background while they're cooking. While they're cleaning. While they're doing things. There are people who, who sit down and watch it. And you not might not be that person right now. You may be in the future. But there there is a very important demographic and they they go to the shopping channel for value, they go to the shopping channel for discovery, they go to the shopping channel, because it's an easy way to sometimes access really cool things. Because in preparation for my first shopping channel episode, I watched the shopping channel like it was going to study it. And I actually did put the phone away because I was like, I'm gonna buy everything like well, could you hooked me? I was like, Yeah, that's me every time you know, because there's a really, because Because to your point, you have to flog it. So you can't light sell something. You can't be like, Oh, this makes me feel good. You have to be like, if you're tired and you have kids and you stay up all night, you wake up in the morning and your eyes look tired like this is for you.

Qasim Virjee 31:33
Right? This Slap Chop will change your life. And it got you back time and isn't time the most precious resource in the world. Why chop a tomato? You don't have a job. Exactly. Why make soup when you can? Yep. And but

Lisa Mattam 31:52
wait, you don't what was amazing to me is like so in Canada like Dyson's on the shopping channel. So

Qasim Virjee 31:57
that's interesting, cuz that's like a, you know, luxury brand, a luxury brand, right?

Lisa Mattam 32:02
Vitamix. Like actually, it's where I bought my VitaMix blender at the time. It was they have these really beautiful brands that also who are you know, maybe, again, want to have a greater place for discovery. And so it's, it's an incredible customer, because they love the shopping channel. They're very loyal to it. They love that it's, it's an incredible return policy, like kind of like Costco. And so you can order it if you don't like it, you send it back. But they're they're very engaged customer. So

Qasim Virjee 32:31
how how's the run me through that first kind of jumping in front of the camera moment?

Lisa Mattam 32:35
Oh, my God, I still remember it. Because the guys behind the camera. Were telling me to calm down. But it was exciting. It was I was nervous.

Qasim Virjee 32:45
Is there a live audience as well, no live audience. So

Lisa Mattam 32:47
imagine. In some ways you and I are talking right now. But at least we can look at each other and we pull off of everybody's cues. Like imagine if you and I are talking but we're both staring this

Qasim Virjee 32:58
wreck two cameras tough. It's tough to keep the energy up after a minute. I just said everything I need to say about this product. It's amazing. It's amazing. And anyway, I think you're going skiing,

Lisa Mattam 33:12
crazy story eating these stories. And you're so and you and you're riffing off the host who you've maybe met for five minutes. And they're experts like they are experts. They study the products like they know the general things that they want to hit. They know what your point of differentiation is. But for me, the again the one uniqueness is most of them couldn't say your VEDA. Most of them didn't know what your VEDA was. So it was big introduction. So, you know, it was it really speaks to the journey, like because now I go, I was there last month, and now we don't go as often I go like maybe once a quarter for 10 minutes, but because it's local, it's awesome. Yeah. And, but it was, but it's the weirdest thing because you're sitting there and it's live. Nobody's there. The team has done this so many times. So the camera guys are are like, you

Qasim Virjee 33:57
know, right? Yes, this they're not in the moment. We're not in the moment in the moment with you in

Lisa Mattam 34:01
the moment. I'm like, deep breath like, oh my god and then and pre pandemic, they did your makeup for you. So you've like got enough makeup on that like it looks like you're in the witness protection program like you.

Qasim Virjee 34:14
Like you have to chisel it off. And if it goes south your family won't even recognize you anyway.

Lisa Mattam 34:19
It's and they have all these things like at the shopping channel, like you have to have your nails done you have to have this which like it's just which is fine and it makes sense because it's like everything has you've 10 minutes

Qasim Virjee 34:30
yeah and the people that are watching it all the time I guess the point is draw their attention to the product and in everything else should be a flavor of each other right

Lisa Mattam 34:37
and everything should be consistent so you've got this beautiful brand Yeah, and at some point the cameraman is going to you know get a close up of you holding it your hands look a disaster who wants to buy that product and then on top of it if your hands for disaster that's what they're gonna be staring no if it was

Qasim Virjee 34:52
me, I don't know. My hands will be sweating. Yeah, like I'm gonna drop this product man. Don't Don't do that.

Lisa Mattam 35:00
Have you meeting the President's shopping channel and him saying to me, like, you've got to look like you love the product? And I was like, No, I love the product. No, he's like, you've got to look at you're gonna caress the product like you have to are in love with. You are in love. Not like, it's just your mission and your vision and your baby like you are in love with this. That's

Qasim Virjee 35:15
your Snuggie.

Lisa Mattam 35:16
It's exactly so it's, it was an incredible experience for somebody who's never done it. It is it is live. So when you're watching it, it is live, it is exactly how it's going in, if you have this expert with you, which is great, which is the host so they can guide you. And if they feel like you're going crazy, they just cut you off. And you just sort of roll with it. And you're like, okay, they just cut me off. But I remember like a few years in being on air and the host had like a coughing spasm, which happens and so she walked off air and I was like, by myself, you got it. Yeah, I'm like, I've got to lead this for the next few minutes. Awesome. But there's so like, even the management team, like they're so used to this kind of nuance that they're like, Oh, you were by yourself or governments, whatever. Whereas for you, you're like, oh my gosh, and I I wish I knew the number now but I forget how many X million people are watching it anytime. So it's huge. It's huge. And

Qasim Virjee 36:06
so the first order from wellness saving $200 What did you if you remember the numbers like what did what came in in terms of orders on the shopping channel when you were up there the first time so

Lisa Mattam 36:17
the first time was different than any time because and I can be perfectly candid with this is that so the shopping channel customer and our customer have an overlap but it's not a direct not not our direct cost. It

Qasim Virjee 36:32
seems like something new probably for a lot of people watching

Lisa Mattam 36:35
it seems like something new clean again was really early. So the value around clean wasn't the same way. I remember we launched in January and so we tried to do this like New Year New you if you're detoxing low, toxic, you know, you need to do this with your beauty. It is a tenant more tenured customer and so our customer skews a little bit younger than theirs. And their customers incredibly value based which is why it's like I'll tell you this honestly, like it's amazing to shop shopping channel because if you get them on the Day Dyson's on

Qasim Virjee 37:06
like you're getting deals they're getting as all deals. This is all special right now. I gotta buy everything.

Lisa Mattam 37:11
Yeah. And it's and people and so it's it's so our first day, we did these half hour segments through the day. So it was probably like $100,000 Day, which is amazing.

Qasim Virjee 37:23
Phenomenal. You

Lisa Mattam 37:23
must have been over the moon, I was flipping out. I was also having like, because you would go off. And then they would say like, oh, you could go shopping if you want. Could you have a two hour break? And I was like, I'm not leaving?

Qasim Virjee 37:32
No, I'm gonna go to the bathroom. That's the only place. It's

Lisa Mattam 37:38
exact. Because I was like, What happens if I leave to get a Starbucks coffee and I get a flat tire and I ruined this whole day. Yeah. But what we started to realize as I came back was that you knew there was there was a customer for us, but it was meant to be displayed in a different way. So now what I do is I go back, they have one show on a Friday night. That's like a mixed Beauty Segment. And it's all new, cool beauty things that you'd find maybe at Sephora, and a little bit more higher price point. So prestige, price point. interesting discovery, more clean beauty. And so that ended up being the place that we met. So for 10 minutes still, like I went a couple weeks ago, and it's not 10 minutes. For me, it's like started, you know, hours before and but for that 10 minutes, it's it's You mean in terms of your prep and everything in terms of crap. And you're there a few hours before you're on air for 10 minutes. 10 minutes, right? And it's like so it's so it's such a big I brought someone with me this time for the first time. And I said like one Don't be surprised at how it looks. Yeah. And also don't be surprised at how it ends. And she's like, What are you talking about? And I said like, as soon as you're 10 minutes is over, it's done. And they literally like and when if you ever watch I can You can see the transition now like they move to, you know, a little but still shopping channel like commercial or they'll they'll show you the pricing and so you don't see the person and what the host is doing is walking to the next table, right? And then they don't even wave goodbye, like everybody just moves on and you're standing there like okay,

Qasim Virjee 39:01
the lights are dim.

Lisa Mattam 39:05
And you just grab your box and you start filling it and then you at home. I know and like you've given your amazing keycard and you go Wow.

Qasim Virjee 39:15
It's amazing to hear though that that was not only a kind of a success, but seems to have given you tons of insight as well into not just salesmanship for your product, right? Because that's like a pitch accelerator. Oh yeah. To then also this like D to C play because you know, you can be E calm but even if you're DTC e calm, it's tough to kind of like question the interface with the client. And like what the real messaging should be yes to sell in the moment. They're ready to buy on your website. So what I guess how did that experience inform the next steps that you took with with positioning the company? Great

Lisa Mattam 39:57
question. So what told me a lot is about who, who the customer was, what they valued, what mattered, our clinical story was really relevant. Because ultimately, people want things, especially when it comes to skincare, and they want it to work. First, I know what you could say that you could look at it from one perspective and say that we're all a little bit vain, vain. You know, I remember meeting with someone who came from the beauty industry, and I was talking about clean and how amazing it was. And he said to me, let me be clear, like women would put ground up children on their face. Yeah, if it made them look younger. And I while I found that so

Qasim Virjee 40:34
awful, horrible, you just need to go to the south of France to see it. And you're up close and personal. Yeah, but

Lisa Mattam 40:40
there was an element of it. That was true, which was that we you can't you people don't buy skin, they need value, we need valet that's what we're investing in. Yeah, has to work. It has to work and, and so it helped me, again, cement that it has to work. It helped me cement the messaging around us being clean and clinical. But it also helped me understand, you know, where we fit in terms of our messaging. And truthfully, what really accelerated our growth was. So we are a digital first business. We do have retail partners was one again, meeting the customer where we there they are. So really understanding who are you know what our customer valued, the ingredients that they were familiar with. And then the pandemic, while awful, in so many ways was a really good, a really good time for our business. Once I got the first couple of months, I was hiding under my table because we were retail first business at the time, right? Okay. And I was like, how is this going to what is what is going to be the fallout of this all those sales channels dried up for you? Although I remember we were supposed to be on the shopping channel and it moved from like, yes, you can come in No, you can't come in, we're gonna do it in five minutes. We're gonna do it from Skype. And nobody had ever done this before. And I'm at my kitchen table out of this. Yeah, shopping channel goes virtual, the shopping channel goes virtual, our retailer doors closed, we've launched at Hudson's Bay, they're not opening for crickets, retailers aren't able to pay their bills, I'm still sustaining mine, like it was it was a incredibly difficult time. And then one, quite candidly, when everybody's in, at home, they're engaging in their self care, because they're going through a really difficult time. I got more I, you know, I'm not the best on social media, but I'm very authentic on it. So I and I still strive to be that way. So you know, there's some people who lead brands or influencers who are like, you know, very forward facing with the way that they are. Whereas I was like, this is a really hard time. I don't care if you buy skincare,

Qasim Virjee 42:38
because, yeah, that was your messaging was authentic again. Yeah. So I was just like,

Lisa Mattam 42:42
we're here to get through this together. And here's what I Aveda can teach us about this, like in terms of like mindfulness and wellness, and like, let's do some, let's, you know, let's engage in people who can do some meditations online, if that helps. And let's do all of these things. And so I was really concerned about community because I was talking to my retail partners who were so stressed, I was talking to, you know, people who we were all going through such hard times. And then, but people were also engaging into their health, right. And, you know, turmeric, as an example, was something that was already on the rise. Now everybody was like, taking it as a pill, putting it on their face, you know, and we had a couple of months before the pandemic launched a turmeric mask, which I was like, again, at the beginning of pandemic, like Office lunch bombs. I've always turmeric masks sitting in a warehouse. And then suddenly, Oprah's wellness editor says that it's her favorite thing to do during the pandemic, every Sunday your phone asks is with our math amazing, which was amazing. And she calls out that it's an indo Canada, Canadian brands. So she calls it the word Canadian, which I think as, as a Canadian, I do go to my way to support other Canadian companies. And so I think when people saw that, and then she calls out the Indian heritage piece, which is incredible, as well, yeah, and then calls it that it's turmeric, and everyone's at this point is like, turmeric is everything. I want to try this. And so and so with a really strong marketing strategy, we got that Oprah out there. And then the next four months just became a book keeping things in stock. And yeah, and so

Qasim Virjee 44:12
people were discovering your brand through that product, but then also ordering other products or ordering

Lisa Mattam 44:18
other products from us, they were starting to say, Oh, wow, like this is this clip, I want to go clean. I'm worried it was almost like there was this small snowball that was happening around clean and clean. And you know, all if you read, you know, industry trends, it was like cleans the biggest, fastest growing segment in the market. But now people are at home and they're like, Oh, I really need to rethink my life. Right? I really need to think about what I'm putting in my body what I'm putting on my body. And I Aveda historically has always said those things that the skin is the largest digestive organ that you know, and one of the things that comforted me was I really actually says that taking care of your beauty isn't vain, is taking care of the temple that houses the soul and so When I started, really, and I actually started working with an iron Vedic practitioner personally wonderful at the beginning of the pandemic, which was helping me with my health, and just a number of things, it even got me deeper. And I think that that's the authenticity that people came to. So we were, yes, we were doing skincare, but we were also sharing recipes we were, you know, and that's, that's the ultimate unity community. Yeah,

Qasim Virjee 45:21
that's an amazing thing. That's also another thing that is resonating with a number of our guests on the show, is brands need to, you know, engage or go deeper with their audience, especially, because the audiences don't want to just be a passive audience. They're like, this is part of my life, especially with these products as part of my life. I want to share that with other people. Yeah. And similar values and are interested in how their lifestyle is something they can own.

Lisa Mattam 45:49
I did this thing, or I did this thing in right before the holidays, I contacted our 15 top customers, to talk to them to ask them questions, ask them for advice, feedback, you know, figure out how they found us figure out what they liked, what they would love to see more of. And far and away. What I heard was some knew Irv that and wanted to go wanted to incorporate into their life, most didn't. But we're on this journey of wellness and said, I love the product. Like ultimately, they said, first and foremost, the product is amazing. It works. Like you could not talk about anything else, and we would still buy it. But I was like, there you go. I was like, because what I've been saying, yeah. But what they also said is like we love when you do things that's bigger and

Qasim Virjee 46:40
broader than just the product and just the product position, the product in, in

Lisa Mattam 46:44
the context of this science position. The product is a community. And what was interesting is a two people who said to me, you know, you don't realize this, because I'm not on social every day and all this stuff. But yeah,

Qasim Virjee 46:56
because you ain't 23 Yeah,

Lisa Mattam 46:59
exactly. But it was like, We love seeing you. Yeah, and we love it, like one person said, like you had posted something, and I sometimes post things that I think other people would say is probably not a good idea on social. But like, I remember during the pandemic, I would have the kids in the background if I was doing stasher, you know, and they were like, We love seeing that or like occasionally we, you know, I would post like a, you know, a morning shot where I'm making breakfast and answering emails at the same time. And they were like, we've loved that. And it sounds so basic.

Qasim Virjee 47:28
But it's funny, because I think especially I would I would pitch this that coming from the corporate background that you had career wise, there are cultural cues that become baked in your subconscious from that experience where, you know, it's not quite like the collective first, but the corporation first, and everyone kind of you know, is is toeing the line as an employee, and you are replaceable in that the room for individuated identity. And that to be expressive of a larger brand in corporate North America. Historically, of course, it's not been something that's been celebrated. For my own kind of playbook. I mean, that's something that I found when I was working for big blue. That in a way, if someone that was on, especially a customer facing functions, sales marketing was personifying things a little too much, then there was a little mark on their back. And it's funny, because personally, even with my business would start well, I went through the same thing I was very focused on start, well, itself, the name and the other iconography around the brand, carrying as much of the story of the brand as possible for a number of years. This podcast itself didn't find its way onto video format, you know, from we were broadcasting episodes, or podcasting audio episodes from 2017. But it took until 2021, to go to video, not because I didn't have the capacity. But purely because I felt awkward around being the face of the brand. And then when I embraced it, because also the pandemic and said, Well, look, also marketing kind of broke a bit during the pandemic, for a lot of different segments. We're a retail business that is experiential. And if people aren't walking in the doors to experience it, I can go to the nine degree of producing media that can articulate the value of what we have on campus. And we did that with 360 walkthroughs, with videos with photos with all of this stuff. But at the end of the day, you need to humanize it, you know, and so yeah, it was a weird moment when I realized, hey, you know what, I can create a video talking about this place and put on the screens that face the street. And I did that and I kind of felt awkward because for the first few weeks of even having my face on a screen. I thought oh no, Everyone's looking at me, you know? And it was awkward. Um, but people kept congratulating me. I literally had friends and people in the neighborhood that know us in our business because they saw that and they've seen me on the street and they say, that's that guy's business 100%. And people messaged me this, I drove by the building, and I want to congratulate you taking it a step further, it kind of works. It works in so many ways. You know, it works in so many ways you want your brand to be relatable, and how best to relate it than the the people that are, you know, really pushing the company, because that's another thing, coming back to this entrepreneurial question. And being an entrepreneur and, and having a business, it's kind of a weird thing that we would tend to emulate some sort of massive, multinational corporate playbook. Just because that seems to be a subjective expectation for the growth, ultimate growth of your company, that you'll be the massive pharmaceutical company in 20 years, that might not be the intention of the brand. But it's just baked in your brain, though. It's like, Well, I gotta act like everybody else to be relatable. When it's the opposite in a way a lot of the time.

Lisa Mattam 51:06
It is. And I think, to your point, I think one, you know, and I think corporate has changed a lot. But I think, you know, in my day, it was like, you could be yourself at work, but only so much, right, right. And even in the early days of the brand, I remember taking important car with a call with a retailer and saying to my kids, cuz they happen to be in the call in the car, when I saw the number come through, like nobody breathed like, nobody speak Don't make a noise if you want to sing sing in your head, like, and now the pandemic has allowed us to be like, Hey, I'm in the car with my kids. Yeah, right. I'm doing this I'm on the go. People understand now that you pick your kids up from school people understand certain things. And I mean, it gave us permission to be more authentic. But I think to your point is, you know, I still sometimes feel awkward being the face because it's, I feel sometimes it's easier for me to be behind the scenes, right? And be thinking about the brand versus out on the brand. But that's what people want to see. And to your point. I laugh, and I'm sure you've seen this ad when you've been on a plane, it's like some safe and he's talking about

Qasim Virjee 52:02
oh, that on Air Canada, right. Yeah. Yeah. And the

Lisa Mattam 52:07
reason why I say that, because I was just on a plane last week, I saw this capital, purpose capital. And I hadn't seen it and so long, but it was really strange. I was one day walking down the street, and I saw him, okay. It's not just an actor. No. And for about five minutes, I couldn't place where I knew him. Because I know he's so familiar. I was like, is that an old friend was what I thought. Yeah. And it's kind of to that same point, like when you put yourself as the face of the brand, people feel very connected to it. Right. And then

Qasim Virjee 52:34
they vote for you and make you the President of the United States of America. That's a separate. But, ya know, the, the aesthetic value of a brand, you know, in personifying it is so strengthened is

Lisa Mattam 52:50
it really is and people see themselves and we're in an interesting time and community where, you know, you and I, I remember when this story may not resonate, but I remember when Duran Duran did a video in Sri Lanka and showing it to my parents and saying, like, look like as if I was one wanted them to like Duran Duran. And so I wanted them to be proud that Duran Duran was somehow member automating themselves into South Asian culture. But also knowing that that's the only way I could see that as part of mass media. And now, you know, look at the summer like, did you ever think you would see a time where Never Have I Ever Indian matchmaking, I think there was a wedding season or arranged marriage or whatever the movie was, like, all we're number one on Netflix, like we're at a time where culturally people are seeing themselves. Yeah, we're at a time where. And so in that sense, like we, when I think of the brand, like people can embrace it in a way they may not have before if they identify it with it, but also that we're, we're globalizing all of these things. We're globalizing the philosophies and the ingredients. And so, you know, people want to be engaged. And so I think that what behooves us as founders is saying, we're looking for community, we're looking for connectedness, we're looking to be seen, how do we, how do we connect with them? How do we create how do we bridge that gap? Because that's what people want. They don't want the blue or they don't want, you know, and this is something we've heard consistently is like, part of the reason I buy for you is because you're not a big beauty company. And we want you to win, but also, it loses authenticity once it gets that big. And so that's what they're looking for. And so sometimes as much as as awkward as I feel, I think like this is, if my whole goal is to be in service to this brand. This is how I have to do it.

Qasim Virjee 54:33
Yeah. And it's I'm sure it's incredibly fulfilling to be able to represent something that is yes of yourself, but also shared with your customers. You know, that's what's so amazing about a product like this that is not just it has it has that context around it. The context is part of your context. The context is also part of something that is accessed The board now through the product to other people, and has a lineage. It's amazing. Let's talk about these things that are on the table. Okay? So I'd like you to show me what is here, I want to ask you also about aesthetics of the brand, as we look at, you know, the products that you brought in here, so

Lisa Mattam 55:17
I didn't bring them all I just sort of quickly grabbed what I wanted to give to you. And then some other bottles for just because I think they're so lovely. So here's what I'll tell you from at the front and center, as we talked about how we put together collection. Now we do have all those steps. So you know, our deep user our biggest fans can and we've seen it like when I talked to our top 15 customers that way. First question was, you know, my first five questions was what's your favorite product? And they say, like, a cleansing oil? No, the toner, no, the serum, no, the

Qasim Virjee 55:50
cream design,

Lisa Mattam 55:51
it couldn't decide it was it was like, Oh my God, it was like fuel to my heart like it was so you know, it was it was amazing. And so, we do we do grow based on the fact that we want people to be able to experience and then what we do is we develop as we ask people, What do you want to see? Like, what is it that you want to see and that's what we'll develop? So what I what I will show, I'm going to show you a couple of things, and these are actually yours. So it's okay that I'm opening here. Yeah, of course it gifts for you. This is our best, best, best best seller. Okay, and hopefully it looks gorgeous when it comes out. And this is our nourish face cream. So you can see that right there.

Qasim Virjee 56:27
I want to eat that. Oh, it looks so rich and delicious.

Lisa Mattam 56:31
It's whole rich and delicious. It gets its color so it's got like a mocha color but it doesn't leave a color behind on the skin. Yeah, so it's almost like a carrot. Not caramel. I don't know. And

Qasim Virjee 56:41
yeah, absolutely. This is totally mocha caramel. This looks like a Oh,

Lisa Mattam 56:45
it's like I could be than this. I know and the first thing you do and so the the color comes from this ingredient called triphala triphala meaning three fruits in Sanskrit. One of the fruits is Omri fuller. Yeah. And one of the fruits is unlocked which is the indian gooseberry which you've probably maybe have experienced somewhere else. It is the most antioxidant rich fruit in the world. 20 times the amount of vitamin C is in orange. So really really good for the skin like when people think vitamin C Yeah. And then what's amazing I described the skin like we had a we had a customer who called it the clean la mayor of you know la mayor but yeah, absolutely. It's, it's to me I see this as like renewing your skin back to its healthiest center. It's it's empty. If you if aging is important. We've got clinicals against it on aging. So in six weeks 100% of people had a minimization in their fine lines. But also 100% of people had a difference in their skin's hydration. Also they 100% of people reporting that their skin is brighter so it's like this overall, this is my ride or die I can't like I once forgot this and I bought it from the city I was from

Qasim Virjee 57:50
that's an amazing validated Yes. This is awesome. And that's something you apply Morning, morning

Lisa Mattam 57:55
and night. If you're a real beauty junkie we are serum is our Stearman cream our best sellers so you might apply this radiant Sam first and then this after Yeah, but this is this is my I can't live without I use it all year long. It's a it is a richer cream but it doesn't feel heavy on the skin and it is to me emulates what the brand is which is like aggravate me science

Qasim Virjee 58:18
do so can I just read out the inscription here the letter from you and the product in the box. So it says I'm committed to bringing you evidence based skin and haircare products that balance healthy mindful, sorry, healthy, mindful living with the rich heritage of the Ayurvedic traditions in which I was raised. So see that's what we're talking about the personification of the brand is simply right there on the package, someone opens a something and has your name on it and a little message. I love that. Thank you. And you know it is a beautiful package to like the branding is your target we've mentioned luxury earlier. But it's it feels luxurious. I mean part of it is the end boss Yeah. Of the brand. Yes. The Why did you go with copper, that color so we

Lisa Mattam 59:06
we I worked with a Toronto based agency on the branding an agency called Rio demonstrate from here and when we we I did everything with him we didn't naming we did the brand we did the logo, we did all the branding and so it was interesting in the evolution because Saajan comes from the word Sahaja which Sahaja means intuitive in Hindi and so we took all the things that this brand meant to me and then we had them translated to find the right name and the right place for it. And then you know we wanted to make sure that the brand you could identify that it had South Asian roots you could identify the nod to both South Asian heritage and Ira the but that it felt very modern. So copper being something actually copper is a metal and Ira there's it's used in this thing called a console One which is different from a guasha, if you know Gosha, but it's like a one that's often used in your skincare, but it helps with lymphatic drainage. And the belief in Iran is that copper is like soothing, it's antibacterial, that actually helps to balance pH. But Copper has a very rich, vibrant heritage in IRA that and then to your point, it aligns beautifully with this prestige feeling that, you know, it's funny that you, you could tell that you've been involved in brands so many times, because most people don't pick up that it's been embossed. So it's definitely an expensive box, I'm not gonna lie. What I learned actually about beauty and I'm so proud to say we're not like this is a lot of brands spend more on their packaging than they do on the fill. Sure, our fill far outweigh our costs. But we worked really hard to bring an elegance and a modernity to the packaging. So that again, if I Aveda is not important to you, you know, for light user who's just like, I really want a cream that works. Then, if you're a deep user, and I read this important to you, it also resonates with you. And so that's that's what we were trying to accomplish with the brand that it would that it would, you know, if you used to be an Estee Lauder user, you could feel really confident about putting this on your counter because the static does matter. It

Qasim Virjee 1:01:13
does. It definitely does. I mean, like people, yeah, people are all about aesthetics. Their bathrooms are beautiful. What's the contents of their bathrooms? Well, you got so many things here.

Lisa Mattam 1:01:25
Yes. So you're looking at our sleep well, bath soak. This was something that we created two years ago before holiday. This was inspired because one we heard from people, they wanted to be able to gift more of the product. And secondly is as this was in the pandemic that we launched this product is that people were so deep into their self care routines that the idea one of having something that they could use in a bath, to calm to ease off to leave the day would be so important. And sleep is something and you know, I continue to think about sleep. And I think we're actually going to do a community based event about sleep. I love that. But is that sleep is something that eludes us. And we don't have great sleep routines. We don't have even ice like I know what I should do. And then I know what I yeah, do. And so airplane mode. Exactly. And so, you know, we worked with an Ayurvedic practitioner, she chose the ingredients. And so there's jasmine in it, which is such a great scent. But Jasmine actually has a flower only blooms at night. No, no, he knew that. So it's called the Queen of the Night. And so it's believed in IRA that to renew, restore, but also to promote good sleep. And so it's, we're trying to, again, create that Lex experience, but also giving you something that's that is going to have meaningful benefit, or that you can incorporate into your night routine.

Qasim Virjee 1:02:47
And of course talking about science. I mean, there's magnesium in it, right? Yeah, so the idea is, it's it's a, it will calm the muscles and relax you. And the

Lisa Mattam 1:02:57
idea. You know, again, I'm I nerd out on the on the also background research and like, apparently, I didn't know this, that bathing actually comes from the from ancient India. Because it was and so you see people get in the Ganges and Bay. That's because bathing and cleansing, as part of your ritual for letting go for renewal is so important. And what I've learned is that some again, some of our skincare items are just freaking awesome, right? Like, you've read skin, we've got you, you know, you've got dry skin, we've got you've got acne, we've got you. But then some of it is just like we want to be a partner in you living a life where you feel better,

Qasim Virjee 1:03:35
all and also how many products are in the in that

Lisa Mattam 1:03:39
we've got 12 we've got 12 And so I'm meaningfully expanding. So some beauty brands will launch like three or four things a year, we don't do that, we do two at a max because I won our, our creation time or formulation time is long. And two, I want to add on in again in meaningful ways that is not just about like, we need a new product, we need a new product. I've

Qasim Virjee 1:04:01
talked to fashion houses that have kind of escaped this, like, you know, seasonal sales cycle, to drive their creativity. You know, they've escaped that with the same logic. It's like we're providing value to our customers. And that value shouldn't be accepted only within a time frame. And at the same time, it's not about getting as much money from the same customer, it's instead about providing them the value and giving them the choice of what they want to buy.

Lisa Mattam 1:04:33
That's exactly what we're trying to do. And so, you know, we continue to build in we'll have two launches this year, which I'm excited about. So stay tuned for more but that yeah, all good things.

Qasim Virjee 1:04:44
And and now that we're in this kind of post, maybe hopefully pandemic world where ecom is has a larger adoption than ever before. Is it still a now retail also has picked up a little bit so Where are you seeing for 2023? The bulk of your customers? And also tell me a little bit about this kind of, you know, what's, what's the global dispersion of that customer base as well?

Lisa Mattam 1:05:11
Sure. So what I did see kind of in 2022, and we're seeing in 2023 is yes, digital adoption is high. But now we're starting to see that people are coming back to retail. They're craving retail, actually, they're craving more experience, they want to get out, they want to discover new. So while we transition to a digital first business, and I believe we'll stay that way, I see the mix is a little bit different. Like in an ideal world, we might even be 5050. Which is nice, because again, we need places of discovery, we need to meet the customer where they are, we need for them to find us where it is that they want to find us. And I think that what we'll see with brands and generals is interesting interplay where maybe you found me at a retailer, but now you buy us online, or you found us here, but then you happen to be shopping and you sauce again, and, and that's okay. And one reinforces the other. So So that's, that's what I see coming. I think it's going to be and we're majority North America, with a balance between Canada and the US. What I see is a few things. So one exciting news for us is that starting May, May June as the I think it'll be more June. at the Ritz, the JW Marriott, the W the St. Regis will be the in room skincare partner

Qasim Virjee 1:06:30
here in Toronto, or

Lisa Mattam 1:06:32
all over the world. What I know. That's

Qasim Virjee 1:06:35
hugely so congratulations. So Fantasticks.

Lisa Mattam 1:06:38
Oh, fantastic. And it's fantastic, obviously, for the brand, right? And it's in room. So if you don't know you, you've traveled a lot. So when I was in my early days of corporate, that's how I did discovery. I stayed at the Fairmont. And that's how I learned about the lab. Oh, I stayed at the Four Seasons with work. And that's how I learned about Lexington. And so again, discovery, finding our customer where they are understanding who our customer is, and where they stay.

Qasim Virjee 1:07:02
And those are brands that are top tier brands that represent this best in class experience, especially talking about sleep around. For the most part, you know, your hotel stay is going to be really centered around or the comfort at it is around the evening time in the nighttime.

Lisa Mattam 1:07:20
Yes. So creating that for them, I think is incredible. And then it's interesting, because I've only started to share this news. And I was in New York last week. And I shared it with a beauty editor who kind of she got a little like, she kind of took a moment. And she said, Do you realize what this means. And I said, like, you might pay your bills. But actually, what she said was, I read this now on the global stage, right, like, in a very luxurious, but mainstream way. And we've never seen that before, she said, you know, we're starting to see because now there is just as predicted, there's a category that's built out, there has been the entrance of new brands in the Ivy League space, each of us finding our own way and our own place. But this is, this is a signal. And I think she knows she was she was from India actually now living in the US. So I like to use my hands a lot when I talk. There's lots of bumps and movements as I talk. But she said like this, this really says that we're here. And it was a very, almost emotional moment for the two of us where it was incredible for the brand, but also incredible for anybody who has a cultural connection to IRA that to see yourself again to see the golden milk cleanser, which is the other thing that I've brought for you is a cleanser. I'm biased, obviously I love but it's got turmeric in it, it's inspired by the drink, so it's got turmeric in it. It's got black cumin seed oil, which will help to unclog pores. And it's in an old milk base, because I'm an old milk junkie, but also because oat milk actually supports the barrier of the skin. So if you have sensitive skin and milk is really good for it. Excellent. But that will be in every room in the Ritz starting the spring like that idea is wild to me. Yeah, as someone, but also, you know, incredible for the category incredible for a statement that I or Veda is on the global stage that it is significant, that it is a category in of itself when we've always seen, you know, beautiful European brands or you know, we haven't often seen that nod to Asia or South Asia for certainly

Qasim Virjee 1:09:26
I take the flip and I look at these sorts of relationships that you're forming with brands is being multilateral, you know, and I think that you are products being offered through these hotels is going to be an amazing thing for them. I'm not saying that, you know, flip the script, but I'm saying for everyone involved. I know the experience of going to a luxurious, you know hotel room where you want rest and respite and being disappointed by a product suite that you feel is And commensurate with the brand, not for the ticket price of renting that room. But the quality of the linens and the you know, control that you have over the light. And all these experiential factors may not add up to, to the product that's in the bathroom. And so I look at it and say, Wow, this is definitely going to add value to the customer experience of those hotel stays. And I hope that these are fruition partnerships that you know, not only open doors for your brand, but but definitely for the brands that are welcoming of them of your product. So

Lisa Mattam 1:10:35
thanks, exciting. Yeah, that's really exciting.

Qasim Virjee 1:10:39
So that's tons of great news coming up for 2023. And so let's do some shout outs and call outs anyone in the audience that wants to try your product. So hodgen is the brand. So

Lisa Mattam 1:10:51
hodgen is the brand. So sh a, j, A, en. And the easiest place to find this is the hodgen.com.

Qasim Virjee 1:10:58
Awesome. And that's a hodgen.com is a primarily a place to buy the product, but also learn more about the ingredients do you guys have? Yes, a bunch of contents that kind of walks people through the context of the products and stuff? Yes.

Lisa Mattam 1:11:10
So you can learn more about the brand more about the products? You can you join the newsletter and we send out obviously product related stuff, but that's where you can sometimes pick up our recipes, some guidance, invitations to events, all of those types of things come through there. And then we do have our blog, which I need to spend a little bit more but but it's it's a great you know what we're aiming to create is a place that absolutely you buy your skincare but support you in your wellness journey. Excellent.

Qasim Virjee 1:11:42
It was a fantastic, fantastic time in studio with you today. Thanks for coming in.

Lisa Mattam 1:11:47
Thank you for having me.

Qasim Virjee 1:11:48
It was so nice to hear your story and, and I can't wait to try your products.

Lisa Mattam 1:11:52
Thank you so much. All right. Fist bump.

Qasim Virjee 1:11:55
Boom. I love it.

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