By Kristin Limoges

Published on July 8, 2018

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“We don’t use antiaging marketing jargon; we talk about the positive effects these products have in the world and let them speak for themselves,” explains Rupal. Photography by Abhati
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Photography by Abhati

“Everyone talks about clean beauty, but we really should be talking about conscious beauty,” says Anju Rupal, founder of Abhati Suisse. The sustainable, fair-trade start-up launched in 2013, when Rupal sold a single hand soap on the crowdfunded marketplace Indiegogo, with the words “One Hand Washes the Other” printed on the packaging. The phrase quickly evolved into a mission statement.

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Photography by Abhati

No stranger to doing good, Rupal spent her earlier years in England as a social worker and, shortly after moving to Switzerland, helped to create WeForest, a nonprofit that empowers farming communities in the Western Ghats and Himalayan Valley regions of India with sustainable agricultural practices. Drawing on connections made with these tribal farmers, Rupal was introduced to wild-harvested botanicals and their rich, natural healing powers. “Some plants I had never even heard of,” she explains, “and the farmers weren’t able to make an income through the resources that were right at their feet.”

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Photography by Abhati

Powered with that knowledge and the desire to give back, Rupal grew Abhati to include hair-, body-, and skin-care lines based on traditional Indian remedies using Swiss beauty formulas. The farmers now earn 10 times more than market value for their crops—and, through a partnership with Educate Girls, proceeds from every product sold cover a week’s expenses for a girl in rural India to stay in school (usually one in 100 reaches the 12th grade). Thus far, the company has helped more than 120,000 girls. According to Rupal, “Education is the only way these young women can step out of poverty.” 

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Photography by Abhati

Her goal is to send 1 million girls to school, a dream she aims to accomplish by 2025. In the meantime, Abhati (the name means “illuminate your soul” in Sanskrit) has been given B Corp certification, a way to independently confirm the transparency and effectiveness of the brand’s social and environmental efforts. It’s a point of pride for Rupal. “I wanted to use business as a force for good,” she says. “I truly believe entrepreneurs are making a long-term impact today.”

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue with the headline “Root Cause.”

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