Malika Aswani decided to go to university when her daughter left home to pursue her studies and now the two women have gone into business together.
When Malika Aswani’s daughter went to university, it was the beginning of a big change for the whole family. Not only did Malika decide to go to university herself, but, since they both graduated, mother and daughter have gone into business together.
When Malika got married and had her first child in her early twenties, she had dropped out of university to focus on raising a family.
However, when her daughter Prerna, now 28, left for Oxford University in 2011, Malika decided it wasn’t too late for her and began pursuing a nutrition diploma.
Malika explains that when she was growing up in India, there wasn’t much room for studying subjects viewed as ‘non-traditional’.
“When I was growing up, you either studied commerce or science. There was little opportunity for anything else. I got married very young and never completed my studies but my heart wasn’t in it anyway,” she says.
Malika was 40 when Prerna left for university. She decided to focus on naturopathic nutrition. Prerna says: “Learning about the harmful side effects of the chemicals in our daily skincare and cosmetic products, she was horrified, and intent on finding a better solution. And so began her journey into skincare formulation; she studied, she got the certification and she spent three years perfecting her own homemade blends. She was intent on using the highest quality, purest, organic, natural ingredient, rooting our skincare routines back into the earth, and all the goodness it has to offer.”
Malika, now aged 50, says: “My son has special needs and has had multiple health issues throughout his life. He has had to take a lot of medication and antibiotics with so many side effects. It hurt so much to see him suffer like that, I felt so helpless. That’s why my daughter going to university inspired me to do the same and I decided to pursue a qualification in naturopathic nutrition, so that I could heal my son through nutrition and alternative medicine.”
Prerna [below right], who is Community and Fellowship Manager at social entrepreneurship organisation Ashoka, adds: “I think it started as a way of coping with empty nest syndrome, but I loved seeing how excited she was about pursuing something. It was fun when we’d both have assignments due at the same time – we’d be working on them together.”
After finishing her studies, Malika’s family would come to her with their skin and health issues, looking for alternative remedies with no toxic ingredients – so Malika began to make her own. Prerna say: “She’d be making different creams, serums, balms and hair products for friends and family. Each family member, and their skin and hair care woes inspired a new formulation. My own desire to have an uncomplicated skincare routine, that relied on only one product that took care of all my skin needs led to the creation of GlowME, the most nourishing moisturiser there ever was!”
After seeing how passionate her mum was about crafting her own blends, Prerna began helping her so that she could turn it into a fully-fledged business.
“I’ve seen such a huge change in her, it makes me quite emotional to think about it,” says Prerna. “She was so shy and introverted and since launching this business she’s become such an open person. I’m really proud of how much she’s flourished. When we first started I would push her to come with me to sell our products at Greenwich Market and she was so self-conscious about talking to people. Now she’s the one dragging me there!”
Malika and Prerna have since set up a business together, Mother Earth’s Beauty. Prerna is marketing director of the business. It stocks a range of handcrafted organic skincare and haircare products made by Malika in her London home.
Prerna says: “So many women my age struggle with complicated skincare routines, trying hundreds of products, hoping to find the one that work for them. I was never one to have an elaborate routine for my skin, and I never knew much about using the right products. Lucky for me, I never had to. I had my own home expert.
“When we started out, I knew nothing about skincare, let alone starting a business. All I knew was that my mother’s passion had to be shared with the world. Bringing it to life through MotherEarth’s became my driving force, and what inspires me, every day to learn what it takes to bring her handmade blends to a wider audience. Over the last few years, the immense positive feedback I have received from each and every person who has tried our products keeps me going.”