Holy Lama Naturals: A Small Business Spotlight!

Holy Lama Naturals are taking over to let us know the ins and outs of the ethical and eco friendly brand, the importance of sustainable packaging, and more in today's special hot seat style interview!

Holy Lama Naturals vibrant coloured bodycare products

I love offering small businesses the spotlight, and so when Holy Lama Naturals asked if they could contribute an article to The ecoLogical of course I said yes.  With a wide selection of Spice Drops (natural extracts for food and drink), soaps, massage oils, haircare, skin treatments, yummy gifts, and more, this ethical brand embraces the benefits nature provides and captures the wellbeing qualities in their handmade goodies.

Today's writer, Gouri Kubair, is a face of the ethical business and helps share all the info!  Get ready to learn all about Holy Lama Naturals, and see why three generations have made such efforts to create sustainable products using Ayurvedic principles.

Who are Holy Lama Naturals?

We are a family business, and I am part of the third generation to be involved. We proudly continue to follow the ethical stance of my grandfather who founded the business in the 1930s and produce a vegan body care range.

We are particularly proud of our plastic free, ethically made soaps which are vegan, eco- friendly and sustainable. They come in four fragrances using unique combinations of superior essential oils, known to help balance mind, body and soul, using ancient Ayurvedic principles. The base for all the soaps is extra virgin coconut oil and each is hand moulded into attractive round soap bars which don’t crack or go mushy when they are worked into a rich, creamy lather. The soaps are packed in oyster shell shaped holders made from leaves shed by the areca palm which can double as a soap dish. Environmentally friendly paper tags are hand stitched onto the ‘shell’ before it is sown together to secure the soap in place. The same personal care and attention is taken with each and every soap.

The soaps help fill the growing demand for soap bars which are gaining in popularity as consumers reject liquid soaps in plastic bottles, while our packaging enables us to make use of natural materials which are freely and easily available.

What are the recycled materials Holy Lama Naturals use?

The Areca palm grows widely across South India and its leaves fall off when they are dry and so are abundantly available. They are quite thick and strong and are commonly used to make plates and bowls. It was only a short leap of the imagination before my father thought to mould them into the oyster shell used to package the Holy Lama soap with the implication that the soap inside was the ‘pearl’.

This not only used up local natural materials that would otherwise simply be left to rot, but also fulfilled the desire to produce wholly sustainable and compostable packaging. The soaps are completed by the use of environmentally friendly paper tags which are hand stitched onto the ‘shell’ before it is sown together to secure the soap in place.

At the time in the late 1990s the oyster shell was unique and Holy Lama Naturals patented the shell shape, but other companies were inspired and copied us using the palm leaves to make other shaped products.

In the EU (and for Amnesty International) we have also launched boxes for the soaps made from recycled paper and card.

The other products in the Holy Lama Naturals range are packaged in recyclable PET, however we are continuing to seek out sustainable alternatives. There is currently nothing on the market that can take liquid products containing water so Holy Lama is very much in the market to find something that would provide a sustainable solution.

Holy Lama Naturals eco friendly soaps in bright colours and sustainable packaging

What has made Holy Lama Naturals most proud?

Over the years we have helped many women who might otherwise have fallen on hard times. Our factory in India is a government recognised women’s enterprise with over 80% of our workforce being female, mainly from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our flexible working policy means these women are able to work and look after their families in an otherwise male-oriented society that would traditionally reject them. We are proud to make a genuinely positive difference in these women’s lives providing them with financial independence and a sense of self-worth and pride.

Our business is run on the 10 principles of fair trade. We are responsible employers; equal pay is ensured, irrespective of gender and annual wage increases are always made in line with inflation so wages are assured, no matter how low the market falls. We are also responsible partners; our business is run on a no-credit principle so that all the farmers and raw material suppliers are paid immediately and with fair prices.

Our sustainable business model is founded on long term relationships with local farmers, which means we have trusted sources of raw herbs and spices available close to where we extract the essential oils and make the products. We also recycle and use by-products resulting in an impressively low level of waste.

On a lighter note, we were delighted when in 2020 the four soap gift set won bronze at the inaugural Free From Gift Awards, building on the success we had seen in 2019 with our Yogi soap which had won Best New Body Care Product at the Natural & Organic Product Awards Europe and silver at the Free From Skincare Awards.

What's next for Holy Lama Naturals?

We would love to extend our fully compostable and sustainable packaging across the whole Holy Lama Naturals range. In the same way that we found a solution for our soaps, we will continue to search for a similarly eco-friendly answer to the problem of sustainable packaging for our liquid products.

How can people get involved and help create a better future?

The change to sustainable packaging needs to take place across the industry and must be driven by consumer demand. This will help to force the bigger cosmetic businesses to seek solutions which will then make them affordable to smaller businesses like Holy Lama. We will continue to do what we can and experiment with possible local solutions as we did with the Areca palm leaves, but ultimately this is a global issue which needs global solutions.

sustainable bodycare from Holy Lama Naturals with vibrant soaps in eco packaging

No comments

Share your thoughts!
(No links please!)