I had the pleasure of meeting Preethi on FB, through one of the vegan forums. During our interactions I realized that she wrote a blog (Krya – sustainable goodies) and it was through the blog that I came to know of the work, Preethi and Srinivas do. Every post in their blog makes me ruminate over the many things that we have taken for granted – the choices available, the food we eat, and issues of grave importance such as the use of endosulphan, the use of formaldehyde in consumer products etc. There are many such thought provoking posts that one can find on their blog. I believe that there cannot be responsible companies or responsible governments unless there are responsible citizens of the world. I practice my belief and finding someone with a similar mindset made me extremely happy! I was inspired to see that this young couple turned entrepreneurs to provide natural, sustainable, solutions to urban living – in other words they were being ‘responsible company’.
Sometime back I ordered myself a pack of their organic soapberry powder to check whether the product is as good as the claims. Yes, I believe in trying and need proofs before I recommend! I used the ‘Krya sustainable detergent’, the company’s first product that was recently launched, and it gives me pleasure to proclaim that indeed this is a great product. Eco friendly, sustainable, easy to use and any day as good as – no, better than – your regular chemically made soap powder. I used it for hand wash as well in my machine. The clothes turned out clean, and there was absolutely no residue from the soap berry, which was my only worry.
Having used, I did what I do when I am very motivated! I invited Preethi and Srinivas to share their story of how they made their lifestyle choice, how they embarked on their entrepreneurial journey, and share with us, their vision for a greener world. Sometimes, at Tongue Ticklers, I look beyond food!
There is a surprise at the end of this post and a challenge! I would love you all to participate.
Please welcome Preethi and Srinivas, and their baby – Krya!
Building Krya one value at a time
As freshly minted entrepreneurs the most common question people ask us is, how are you going to build awareness? I guess the deeper, more embarrassing question that lies beneath is how are you going to build awareness without spending a few Crores first?
The short & logically correct answer is to remember that all major companies of today had zeroawareness and limited cash on the first day of their existence. Without exception. Of course thisanswer does not reveal the all important secret of how they actually went from zero to mega company.
One day we decided that it might be worthwhile to actually think about the deeper implications of this question and our own approach to address it. As it often happens, the answer came to us when we were working, and not thinking about it.
We are going to build Krya one value at a time.
This answer seems so simple, almost facetious, that I am going to repeat it.
We are going to build Krya, one value at a time.
But first a little background & history
Preethi & I have rich and varied experience of working on every dimension of consumer product brands or FMCG as the pink papers like to call it. We graduated respectively from IIM-C & IIM-B, and set off in earnest to work. We sold all manner of daily household products through rain, shine and reluctant traders. We studied and practised classic brand management on global brands. We spent massive amounts of company dollars on market research to divine insights from consumers. We led large cross functional teams to create new products out of thin air.
And then one day we both decided to quit our jobs. To be on our own. We did not quit because we hated our jobs. We quit because we had a great desire to do something else, something congruent with our values and to fully explore our creative gifts.
This was the starting point for our company, Krya Consumer Products, the creative partnership between Preethi & Srinivas. Krya is a company that creates environmentally sustainable, natural products for the home.
Two Parallel Journeys
We had two journeys to make on the road to entrepreneurship. One was an intense personal journey, rediscovering ourselves in isolation, shorn of any external label as an employee or a marketing professional. The other was to unlearn our traditional business skills, in order to create something new.
The Personal Journey
On the first day after quitting the job, with all of eternity at our disposal, we could think of hundreds to things to do. Screaming out loudest for attention was the need to get healthy and fit. Seriously fit. We turned to the internet and books with a vengeance to geek the health and fitness quest.
When we looked at health as a result of food(or nutrition), exercise , sleep and creative engagement, the quest further narrowed down for us to food as we were doing well on the other parameters.
We quickly sailed past the fundamentals of food – we were anyway lifelong vegetarians, we cut white sugar and processed foods, knocked out polished rice in favour of whole grains and millets, hunted out organic produce to replace the pesticide filled ones.
Yet something seemed to be missing in our food choices. Perhaps we had hit a plateau.
One day when I came back home, I became a vegan.
If you keep reading long enough about food, the argument for a pure plant based, vegan diet is bound to turn up. Much of our early reading on veganism came from US based physicians who were alarmed at the consequences of eating a diet high on animal protein in their country. They had compiled a vast library of research arguing for a vegan diet.
When we started thinking about it, some basic paradoxes troubled us. Cow’s milk is specifically meant to grow a calf, which will later become a 500 Kg cow. Why then, are Humans consuming it as if it was grown on a tree? This line of enquiry stirred a very strong disconnect and we began challenging our food fundamentals. This continued for a few days until Preethi decided to take some drastic action.
One January afternoon, when I came back home, Preethi announced that that she had decided to go vegan & I hopped on board immediately. We purged our fridge of all the dairy items to jumpstart the process. While we had an easy time at home preparing terrific vegan meals, eating out or meeting other people posed some problems, especially with respect to ice cream, desserts and Coffee.
After a month, the difficulty of keeping off filter coffee and chai tripped me. So I made a vegan compromise only with respect to tea and coffee. Slowly the other dairy items crept back into our diet although at much lower levels. We continued with the compromised vegan diet for a few months until we came across the other important dimension of going vegan – the ethics of it.
Being lifelong vegetarians for ethical reasons, we occupied a smug moral high ground which came crashing down one day when we saw a video expose of the dairy farming industry. The spectacular cruelty of growing bovines in a cramped factory to mechanically extract milk was something we could not reconcile with our values.
So for a second time around we decided to get back on the vegan train. When I reminded myself daily of the ethical choices for going vegan, it was a breeze to stay vegan. The fact that was a very healthy choice made it even better. This time around I discovered the joys of gourmet espresso and green tea to get my caffeine fix.
Krya’s vegan ecological footprint
Around the time we reaffirmed our vegan choice, we were on the drawing board, working on the first Krya product. We have always maintained that a company does not have values by itself; it is only a composite of the values practised daily by its employees. Although strange at first, we decided that Krya would be a vegan company along with us.
So we careful scrutinised our ingredients to ensure that they were completely plant based. Further we ensured that we chose suppliers who understood this philosophy.
While the vegan principle at first seems to be about food choices, it actually has a massive impact on sustainability and a person or a company’s total ecological footprint.
Consider the following facts on the difficulties of producing animal proteins like meat and dairy foods:
- In producing 1 kg of beef, the greenhouse gases emitted causes global warming as much as driving a car for 250 KM.
- It takes 15 times more water to produce animal protein compared to plant protein.
- It takes 16 Kg of feed grain (like corn, soybeans), to feed livestock in order to produce 1 Kg of beef.
On the contrary, Krya’s vegan soapberry detergent comes from a tree that uses only rain water and ground water and needs no water for irrigation. The tree grows in tough, arid climates, and gives a yield of around 300 kilos of fruits a year, and has an expected lifespan of 200 years, and requires very little effort on a day to day basis once it is mature. This hard-working tree uses minimal resources and effort, which in turn helps us create a vegan detergent with a minimal ecological footprint.
The decision to go vegan and start a vegan company has had many interesting consequences for us. We are thrilled by the number of people for whom buying from a vegan company is an important part of their decision. There are many others who find resonance with our “no animal testing” policy.
Going vegan gave us a terrific frame of reference to take the Krya business further. It helped us arrive at our maxim of “building Krya one value at a time”.
One value at a time
In traditional business thinking, we are taught to define a core target audience for our product. This definition is then used to build a business plan.
However every entrepreneur knows that it is impossible to define a core target audience for a product that does not exist – he / she has to trust that his vision is so compelling that it will attract many consumers. It is a leap of faith.
In the same manner when we launched our first product, the plant based, organic detergent, we were confident that it would appeal to folks with deep environmental concerns.
As we progress, we are thrilled to find that the whole spectrum of personal values that we have poured into our company appeals in direct, personal ways to a whole spectrum of consumers.
Our detergent is sustainable from manufacture to disposal, uses recycled packaging; the detergent residue is bio-degradable, its low foam action saves water, and it is vegan, not tested on animals, hypoallergenic, safe on skin and clothes. As a company we do our best to service consumers the way we would like to be, we practise radical transparency in all our dealings, to the extent that our detergent formulation is declared on the pack!
Every personal value dear to us is now an integral part of our company. We hope that every consumer resonates with atleast one of these values.
Helping us build Krya one value at a time.
Srinivas and Preethi
Srinivas Krishnaswamy and Preethi Sukumaranare the co-founders of Krya Consumer Products LLP. Krya, creates environmentally sustainable, natural, cruelty free and vegan consumer products. Krya’s products are available online at www.krya.in. You can reach Preethi and Srini at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com .
Please click here for Krya’s guide for “DIY – Green cleaners for your home” that uses plant based active cleaners. Green cleaners are safe for humans and leave no toxic residue in our environment. To boot they are very DIY (Do It Yourself) , instant and economical.
The Challenge and giveaway:
Krya, natural, organic, eco-friendly, detergent powder
Preethi and Srini have decided to offer ‘Krya’s natural detergent powder ‘ to three lucky winners of the vegan challenge that is detailed below. The challenge is very easy and open to non-vegan readers, whether or not they are bloggers.
- Participants have to live vegan for just one day.
- Cook meals that are completely vegan. One of the items should be their favourite non-vegan dish that has been made vegan.
- The food must be proclaimed tasty by their family members before being submitted here.
- Please send us names and pictures of all the dishes you prepared and ate during the day, and the recipe for that one dish which you usually make non-vegan but veganized for this challenge.
While sending in your creative recipes and pictures, do tell me whether the challenge made you feel handicapped in any way, whether you enjoyed cooking a vegan meal, whether your family enjoyed it, and whether you would consider being vegan once a week for the environment. I would love to know your experience and views.
How to participate?
Take pictures of dishes you prepared during the day of challenge, preferably 300px wide and close up shots, if possible.
Send them to harini [at] tongueticklers [dot] com with the subject line ‘Krya vegan challenge’.
If you are a blogger please send the link to the post on your blog. Do not link to past recipes.
Your post must carry a link to my blog post as well as Preethi’s blog.
If you are not a blogger, please send a word file containing the recipe and a picture to the email id mentioned above.
The challenge is on from 26.09.2011 to 26.10.2011.
The three best recipes will receive a package of ‘Krya’s sustainable, natural detergent’.
The challenge is open worldwide but the giveaway is open only to reader residing in India.
I look forward to your views, your ingenious recipes and your entries!