Holy Lama Naturals is a family business based in Kerala, India which manufactures a range of natural, highly concentrated liquid extracts of herbs and spices called Spice Drops for cooking, and an ethical Ayurvedic body care range, fragranced by essential oils.
The Holy Lama Naturals story began in the 1940s and spans three generations of one family.
"In 1938, Mr. D V Deo (my grandfather) migrated from near Goa to Kerala, South India, to become a pioneer in the essential oils industry. He was the first person to cultivate vetivert (a tall grass) on a commercial basis to extract the oils and from here came the beginnings of my family business based on the use of essential oils".Gouri Kubair, MD of Holy Lama Naturals
With hard work and some luck, the business went from strength to strength, under the guidance of Gouri’s father, Vijay Deo, always maintaining the ethical ethos of its founder, so when more help was needed to make the product, Gouri's mother Vijaya, set up the manufacturing unit as a Government-recognized women’s enterprise, supporting and empowering marginalized women in the local community. Many of the women would otherwise be rejected by society but they have found self-respect and self-worth by working for Holy Lama Naturals and are incredibly loyal to the business.
Nearly 80 years since Mr DV Deo began to extract oils, the business remains a family affair. Gouri heads up the Holy Lama Naturals business in the UK and Europe while her sister, Vaishali manages the customer service and administration of the factory. With their parent’s continued support, they are determined to ensure that Holy Lama Naturals maintains the principles on which the business was founded and built by their grandfather and father and continue to produce ethical, natural and sustainable products.
The business is run on the 10 principles of fair trade. They 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. The business is run on a no-credit principle so that all the farmers and raw material suppliers are paid immediately and with fair prices.
Holy Lama Naturals is also a member of the British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers (BAFTS).
"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".
Spice Drops are perfect for bringing any food and drink to life instantly with just a couple of drops. You can use them in baking, cocktail making, cooking - allowing endless creativity in the kitchen, bringing excitement, flavour and experimentation to home cooking. They are certified vegan, alcohol and gluten free with no added sugar or salt and no artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives.
The natural body range is certified vegan, hand-made and based on Ayurvedic principles. The base for all the products is virgin coconut oil while a combination of unique essential oils gives the range wonderfully long-lasting and diverse aromas bringing balance to body, soul and mind.
Within the Holy Lama Naturals body care collection, they produce a range of six, plastic free, ethically made soaps which are vegan, eco-friendly and sustainable and of which they are particularly proud. 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 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 oyster shell packaging was the brainchild of my father, Vijay Deo. He had seen the naturally falling leaves of the Areca palm being used by locals to make bowls and plates and had the idea of using the same material to create the bespoke oyster shell with the suggestion that the soap inside was the ‘pearl’".
The soaps help fill the growing demand for soap bars which are gaining in popularity as consumers reject liquid soaps in plastic bottles, while the packaging enables the business to make use of natural materials which are freely and easily available.
"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".
As well as working with local farmers and employing women from disadvantaged backgrounds, Holy Lama Naturals are dedicated to helping the planet thrive and plant trees every month in their efforts to become carbon neutral.
They produce Ayurvedic medicine to treat Parkinson’s Disease in the local community, supplying this free of charge as a charitable donation.
They are also proud to be a member of the British Association for Fair Trade Shops & Suppliers and support cruelty-free production, and have products registered with the Vegan Society.
“Beyond Bamboo reflects the same values and ethos as Holy Lama Naturals supporting ethical companies with a good record of sustainability. We feel there is strength in numbers and if all similarly minded businesses can be found in one place, it’s easy for the consumer to really make a difference, confident that they are choosing high quality products that are best for them and the planet.”
Quotes in this article from Gouri Kubair, MD of Holy Lama Naturals
View the range of products by Holy Lama Naturals.
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