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Entrepreneur at 88, Woman Whips up Hair Oil With 150-YO Recipe That Stops Hair Fall

Bengaluru-resident Nagamani, fondly called Mani aunty, is the founder of Roots & Shoots, a hair oil business. Made using a 150-YO recipe, the oil helps reduce hair fall.

When Karnataka-native Nagamani was 24 years old, she experienced extreme hair fall. Her 60-year-old friend from Mysore shared a hair oil formula and assured her that it will do wonders for her hair. She went in search of the ‘not-so-common ingredients’ and prepared the oil. Within a month, her hair fall reduced drastically and baby hairs appeared.

The recipe shared is at least 150 years old today.

Over the years, she handed the oil bottles to many of her friends and family members. Even though some of them suggested turning it into a business, Nagamani, fondly called ‘Mani aunty’, wanted to focus on caring for her husband and two daughters.

“It was in my late 60s, three years after the death of my husband, that Roots & Shoots was born. My initial customers were a few salon owners in Bengaluru. Later, Mary who runs the Ambara boutique in Halasuru introduced the brand to a non-profit trust called A Hundred Hands. We got chances to run a stall every year during an exhibition conducted by the trust and the hair oil bottles sold within the blink of an eye,” says 88-year-old Mani aunty who stays in Ulsoor with her daughter Achala Srivatsa.

A laborious task

The making of Mani aunty’s hair oil is a tedious process. The product is based on coconut oil and contains four oil seeds. “One of them is methi. Two of the seeds are quite expensive and rare. We source it from Himachal Pradesh with the help of a vendor nearby,” explains Achala, Mani aunty’s daughter who helps her in the business.

After collecting the ingredients, the seeds are hand-pounded. It is added to the coconut oil and left under the sun for at least six weeks. “This is what makes the oil different. We don’t grind or heat the ingredients and oil. The process is done once a year as it largely depends on the weather conditions. We take help from two workers for the hand pounding and the oil is completely a homegrown product,” shares Achala who works as a consultant.

All bottles of a batch are hand-checked by Mani aunty.

If she spots a dullness in the burgundy colour or a change in smell, the bottle will be kept aside.

They sell around 60-70 litres of oil during their peak period. “All of our customers are women and in Bengaluru. Some of them recommend the oil to their family and friends who take the bottles home and even to foreign countries,” gushes Achala.

Mala Dhawan, one of the trustees of A Hundred Hands and a regular customer of Roots & Shoots, says, “I was introduced to the product through Achala and her sister who was my close friend. It was when the organisation collaborated with the brand for its sales. I was drawn to the product because it is hommade and it turned out to be very effective in controlling hair fall as well as promoting hair growth. I have been using it for the past 10 years and am so glad that they are able to successfully preserve the age-old formula of the oil.”


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