A home-grown business that started with selling a few organic soaps has now turned into a well-recognized brand offering innovatively formulated sustainable products. So far, they have expanded their product range to personal care, menstrual hygiene, beauty, baby care, and home essentials. Rustic Art isn’t a brand; it’s a lifestyle! – as phrased by Sunita Jaju, the formulator, and the women who conceptualized the idea behind this business.
The Sustainable lifestyle has been instilled in this family way before it became a buzzword. Sunita holds a post-graduate degree in sustainable development, and her daughter, Surabhi, remembers her childhood to be filled with sustainable practices starting from recycling paper to composting. It was in 2011 when Rustic Art was first established, producing only simple and natural products for their customers. But in early 2019, the brand replaced its entire product range with new, innovative, and futuristic products.
“WITH ITS FUTURISTIC AND INNOVATIVE WATER EFFICIENT SERIES, RUSTIC ART IS SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT AND PEOPLE’S HEALTH ONE DAY AT A TIME”Sunita jaju
During the reformulation of products, the brand has followed the ‘less is more’ concept by incorporating water efficiency attributes into their products. One such product among them is their shampoo butter. Unlike other shampoos that have water content and come in a 300-400 ml bottle, their shampoo butter is made in a concentrated form with no water content and comes in a 100gm jar. In this way, the customers are paying for the ingredients only and not for the water content, and the organization is also saving up water.
Apart from this, some other sustainable practices they follow are using reusable and recyclable materials for packaging, solar power for their manufacturing operations, and a zero liquid discharge system. ‘All the recycled water is reused within the factory premises for cleaning, landscaping, and gardening’ Sunita explains about their zero liquid discharge facility. In addition, the organization conducts small workshops for its staff every month to talk about sustainability and take account of changes they made to their lifestyle.
Rustic Art now has FDA-GMP certified, state of the art manufacturing facility in Satara MIDC. “It is complete with Quality Assurance & Quality Control departments, experienced expertise, and microbiology laboratory, research & development wing” Sunita adds.
“WE BELIEVE AS A SMALL BUSINESS WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO LISTEN TO THE CUSTOMER AND BE AS INNOVATIVE AS POSSIBLE”sunita jaju
One of the strong aspects of Rustic Art apart from their well-formulated products is their long term and loyal customer base. They perceive these customers as part of their family. During the lockdown, Sunita reveals that the customers would check up on them and even wait to restock the goods as soon as the shipping resumed. The brand has also made products based on the requests from the customers. “We never thought of launching a dishwasher machine powder, but some of our customers insisted we do” the formulator unfolds the reason they included detergents in their list of products. “Our short term goal is not pushing products to increase sales but have long term, loyal customers.”
However, detergents are notoriously known to form toxic foams when released into the water bodies and thus harming the environment, but this brand’s detergent is made with only natural and biodegradable ingredients. Hence, not damaging the water bodies.
“KEEPING UP WITH THE CHANGING CUSTOMER TREND WAS WONDERING WE’D CONSIDERED EVEN BEFORE STEPPING INTO OUR OWN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT. BUT, INSTEAD OF FOLLOWING THE TREND, WE ARE FOCUSED ON BEING THE FRONT RUNNER”sunita jaju
Rustic Art is working towards the goal of having a sustainable tomorrow for future generations. This is why the family-run business and its team have always kept a futuristic mindset. The brand was established (2011) at a time in India when people weren’t as much concerned about sustainability as they are now. As a result, it was essential for them to aware people of why one must choose an SLS free or non-toxic product over others. In 2015, the brand launched their menstrual cups. Now these menstrual cups are manufactured in Satara with highest quality medical grade silicone material. . But since many people weren’t aware of the product’s advantages, they had to speak with every customer for three months explaining its need and how to use it. “We answered calls about menstrual cup emergency in the middle of the night and did urgent deliveries for the same” Sunita tells us. “It was rare to find a menstrual cup at all; we put it online, did awareness sessions, and even put it up in retail stores (we might be the first ones to do so).”
For their goal in upcoming years, they want to add more products to their portfolio, more categories, and expand their reach globally.
“WE ARE NOW EXPLORING MORE INNOVATIVE WAYS TO MARKET OUR PRODUCTS. ONE SURE SHOT WAY THAT HAS WORKED OVER THE YEARS IS WORD OF MOUTH OF OUR HAPPY CUSTOMERS”sunita jaju
Social media, Google ads, and organic SEO are some of the ways they use to market their products. However, word of mouth from happy customers has been the best way for Rustic Art to inform people about their brand. However, Social media has enabled them to compete with big players in this segment at little cost, as Sunita suggested. It led them to contact their customers directly, announce new product launches, and take feedback. Moreover, the organic reviews of their products by Influencers on channels like YouTube and Instagram has also helped them to grow.
Sunita explains that being in a crowded FMCG space, standing out is of utmost importance, and they do it by being transparent to their customers. “We declare all our ingredients on our website & product label, and our target audience appreciates that” she adds.
“IF ONLINE BUSINESS IS TO BE CONSIDERED A SURVIVAL KIT THEN IT NEEDS SUPPORT OF GOOD AND RELIABLE LOGISTICS PARTNER WHICH IS CURRENTLY LACKING”sunita jaju
Rustic Art had always had an online and direct customer approach since the beginning of its establishment. Since education and awareness are necessary for them to give along with products, Sunita reveals that online platforms helped them answer questions from customers that would have been impossible with retail. “I still remember answering the customer care phone for the first few years to clear out queries from inquisitive customers. People are willing to try new products; they’re thrilled” she says. “But, if you can ease their way into using one, they try it with an open mind.
They are now launching many new products based on the customer requests like Soap free, Natural Vegetable & Fruit Wash Powder, Natural Dish Washer Machine Powder, Facial Scrubs and more. The covid lockdown enabled them to explore these new products & bring them out to the market.