Our Story

Beeja products are hand-crafted with care for the well-being of the user, the environment, and the community. Based in Sirsi, in the bountiful Western Ghats, Beeja Botanicals is a women-owned and -operated brand enabling a more ethical and sustainable way of life. It started as an initiative to provide value-addition to locally available raw materials. We prioritize sourcing these raw materials from women of communities dependent on forests, using traditional methods of harvesting. We ensure that our prices truly reflect the value of human labour and of natural ingredients, through fair compensation to everyone involved. Our products are packaged minimally, using often reusable, and always recyclable or biodegradable components. When using our products you not only take care of yourself and your home, but you also support the health of our community and environment.  

You too, can sow the Seeds of Care!

 
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What is Beeja?

The Kannada word ‘beeja’ means seed, we believe this word embodies our brand in two ways.

First, the ingredients we use predominantly come from the seeds of locally harvested forest plants. For example, coconut oil, uppage butter, and kokum butter alone account for over 75% of our lip balm, and are all harvested in a 20km radius.

Second, from these ingredients, we aim to make and spread another type of seed: an idea; that selfcare is tied to the health and sustainability of communities and ecosystems. Therefore producing care products should support personal, community, and ecological well-being. 

Like plant seeds, ideas grow, multiply, and spread. We want this idea to multiply and spread throughout the industry that has severed the link between consumers, and productive communities and ecosystems. Our tagline, “Seeds of Care”, embodies this idea.

 

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What We Do

Beeja botanicals was started to address two problems in our hometown of Sirsi: a lack of value-addition opportunities for local raw ingredient harvesters, particularly tribal women and people reliant on forests, and a lack of affordable, ethical, and environmentally sound body care products for consumers. We started small in 2017, by using already available local raw ingredients, to produce lip balms, and sell them at a fair price locally. 

 

Since then, we have gotten more ambitious.

We aim to redefine care to include the wellbeing of communities and ecosystems, in addition to individual self-care. That means having ethical business practices, taking into account all which are impacted by our decisions, in an industry rife with nefarious production and marketing practices. It also means challenging consumers to consider others’ wellbeing in their daily care practices. Our success will hopefully nudge the industry towards a more sustainable and respectful approach. We also want to offer a broader range of products to more people in India, and create employment opportunities in Sirsi, while protecting and supporting our local ecosystems and communities. 

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How We Do It

We want you to be able to make an informed and conscious choice when buying our products. That’s why we are as transparent as possible about how we do things as a company. You will find information about our methods of production in other places on our social media. Here, we want to tell you about some principles we follow as a company.

We see ourselves as deeply connected to people and places, which means that our choices always impact our human and nonhuman environment. That’s why we practice collective decision-making, not only between the three of us at the top, but with all stakeholders, meaning you, of course, but also the raw material producers, employees, retailers, and other people who would be impacted. For this to work, we invest in relationships, because we know that this kind of practice leads to better outcomes for everyone involved.

Why we do it

We started on this endeavour out of discontent with the beauty and care industry. Overall, we feel that their production and distribution practices have had and continue to have an outsized negative impact on human and ecological health. At the centre of this issue, what drives the industry is a tacit belief, in the consumer, that self-care is contradictory to caring for human communities and ecosystems. 

 

We believe the exact opposite: taking care of your body, human communities far and close, and ecosystems that sustain them, should be one and the same. If having smooth, healthy skin came at the expense of your worker friends’ health, or your farming cousin’s livelihood, you would naturally seek alternative options, but large companies’ success has been to disconnect the users of their products, from the people and environments that produce them.

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Where We Are

Beeja Botanicals is based out of Sirsi, a rural town nestled in the slopes of the Western Ghats.

We strongly believe that where we are defines in part who we are, as a brand and as people. For the 3 of us, Sirsi is our home, and we feel deep appreciation and connection to the forest, rivers, culture, and community of Sirsi.

For Beeja to be place-based is crucial, because our primary goal is to support and sustain the ecosystems and communities which support and sustain us. Our products literally grow out of the soil, forests, and these people’s hands. But we are conscious of making this connection mutually beneficial, on behalf of the consumer. That’s what ‘Seeds of Care’ is all about!!

Who we are

We are Veena, Nritya, and Mala, the co-founders, co-owners, and co-operators of Beeja Botanicals. But before that, we are friends, who consider Sirsi our home, and share love for this place. 

 

We started off with creating self care and household products for our personal use, because we wanted to make use of already available ingredients around us. Thanks to Beeja, we are very happy to share them with you all today. We thought you might want to get to know us personally because this brand represents our collective vision and work.

Hello, my name is Mala. I grew up in Mumbai, but my summers in coastal Karnataka at my grandmother’s were the highlights of my childhood. My deep love for the western ghats is what made me move to sirsi 26 years ago, where  I practice Clinical Psychology. I have been closely involved in starting and running an occupational rehabilitation centre for individuals with mental and physical challenges. I am also deeply passionate about education, which led me to start a foundation to support child learning through after-school programs.

 

Hi! I am Veena, a social entrepreneur with 17 years of work experience, 12 years in craft based industries and 5 years in international logistics. I am passionate about developing craft clusters that employ local talent and resources. When I am not engrossed in books or pottering around my plants, I am thinking of science experiments to do with my daughter. I love being the trustee of “Kalike – The Learning Foundation”, which works with rural kids, and a partner at “The Cottage Collective”, an online platform for artisan-based cottage industries. 

Hi! I am Nritya. I grew up in Sirsi, loving the forest, rivers, and foods of the Western Ghats. I completed a Liberal Arts degree at Quest University in Canada, with a focus on human behavior and collective action. Now, I live in Sirsi, occupying most of my time and mind with Beeja (and worrying about the future). I like to cook, eat, and dance especially when I am procrastinating. I hope you enjoy our products for all the care we have put into them.

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