At The Clean Hub, we are all about supporting clean beauty founders. Their stories are inspiring and filled with helpful anecdotes for clean beauty fans and founders alike. For that reason, we have started a “Founder Friday” series where we share the extraordinary stories behind the brand.
For our first week, we are featuring the Founder and CEO of Kudarat Skincare, Wendi Sudhakar. Wendi has received great achievements in the clean beauty and wellness space. Firstly, she co-authored a book called Women who Influence with Kate Butler (you can buy it here). The book is filled with stories of influential women, similar to that of the old time favorite, Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Women who Influence launched this week and is already a #1 bestseller. Wendi’s story is based around her inspiring journey that led her to start Kudarat Skincare a couple of years ago.
Back in her early twenties, Wendi faced serious health issues such as various autoimmune diseases and ovarian cancer. Regular medicine was not healing her and only through frustration did she turn to a more holistic medicinal approach. It was then that she began to notice that the beauty products she was using were negatively impacting her health. She began mixing and using her own products to only discover that while incorporating clean beauty into her daily routine, her health issues subsided. That then led her to stop her lucrative career and begin formulating the future Kudarat Skincare product line.
Kudarat comes from the Hindi, Sanskrit, and Urdu word for nature. All of the ingredients in Kudarat are natural, plant based, and gluten free. In fact, Wendi has announced Kudarat’s expansion into India – one of the toughest markets to get into as they have intensely stringent ethical and regulatory standards (not to mention it is a six-month process). Kudarat will also be expanding to retailers very soon (stay tuned).
Definitely check out the podcast. We cover the ups and downs of starting a beauty business as well as some helpful beauty tips. Don’t forget to add Kudarat on Instagram @kudaratskincare or check out their website www.kudaratskincare.com. Now on to the show!
Raquel: Hello everyone thanks for tuning in. Today we have a very special guest Wendi Sudhakar founder and CEO of Kudarat Skincare. She’s a member of The Clean Hub and we wanted to feature her not just because we love products, because she has fabulous products, but because of her really inspiring story and how she came to develop Kudarat Skincare. So thank you for coming on the Clean Chat today Wendi.
Wendi: thank you for having me, this is really exciting. I cant wait to have this conversation!
Raquel: Ahh no no, not a problem. So can you tell us a little bit about your story and how you started Kudarat Skincare?
Wendi: Sure. So I’m actually a geologist and I actually spent more than 20 years in a completely different capacity than I am now. I had a lot of health issues in my adult life. I started out with endometriosis and ovarian cancer in my twenty’s and then spent many many many years fighting one autoimmune disease after another and after not getting relief and help from traditional medicine, I found a functional medicine doctor and he was able to help me a lot. But that was basically focused on diet and nothing else so I still want healing and in fact I ended up with autoimmune liver failure during that journey with him. So taken my scientific background, I was like okay, there’s got to be a missing link to this solution to heal myself and so taking my science background I started doing a lot of research and what came out for me is that I was getting a lot of exposure to toxins through my personal care products. So I’m like oh my gosh, holy cow, this must be the missing link. So I literally through out everything, and within about an month I literally healed. And I couldn’t believe it, I’m like oh my gosh, holy cow, is that what normal feels like yay! So I started researching products and pretty much every single ingredient that’s used in products was like holy cow I cannot believe what were getting exposed to every day. Especially women who use a lot of products in general, you know. And so I said okay, there’s got to be a better solution. And so I started doing some of my own reverse engineering. So basically if product x is in this, or ingredient x is this product, what plant based ingredient can I use to replace that toxic product. And that’s how the whole went and it was a couple of years process of researching and trial and error and building these formulas. And they started working really well for me. Not only was I not reacting them but I was also seeing results. And I was really excited about that. And it kind of snowballed from there, people started asking if they could try the products. And I was like sure, and then people are like you should start a company. And its really cool because not only do we have these amazing products, but we are really big on education and that’s been the fun part for me – getting the word out and sharing with people.
Raquel: That sounds really interesting. I feel like, like you mentioned before, its such a problem reading labels because no ones transparent. You didn’t understand the different ingredients which were affecting your body because I feel like mainstream brands are not really truthful about their ingredients or what their listing. And I noticed that that’s one of the things you do, your very upfront about are on your ingredients, your gluten free. And then you’ve obviously started to heal yourself with the ingredients which are in your product line. So just curious, what were the first couple of products that you decided to make in your line?
Wendi: Well, I actually started out with body lotion because that was probably the easiest thing I for me to come up with. And then you know, obviously as a woman you know I want to keep myself looking as good as possible [laughter] so after that it kind of lead to face products. And so, I developed two face washes as well as a serum an eye cream and a moisturiser, that all work together kind of like a system. They’re fine on their own individually but all together they work really well. And you know one of the things you touched on was about labels and what is on labels, and that was one of the biggest eye opening things for me. And yes we are very transparent – we put everything, every single ingredient on our website. So anybody that wants to go and educate themselves about what’s in our products will be able to see that. And its written in plain English – there aren’t any giant, strange chemical sounding words that people don’t know what the hell they are. And one thing though that I found in my research, and I was just, it was like really eye opening but also devastating at the same time, was that a lot of toxins are hidden in plain sight on labels. A lot of the times you will see like Vitamin C or Vitamin E and they’re not actually, say the Vitamin C is not actually a citrus plant and the Vitamin E is not from something like sunflower. They’re usually chemically generated in a lab somewhere and its usually from a gran of some kind, like wheat or corn.
Raquel: Because its cheaper?
Wendi: Its a lot cheaper, its so much cheaper. And unfortunately, a lot of these grain derived ingredients are massively genetically modified as well. And so when I saw this I became really upset, because the average consumer looking at a label and going ‘oh Vitamin C or Vitamin E, this is good for me’, and in reality, if you don’t know who the company is and where they’re sourcing their ingredients it could really be problematic. And so, people are still exposing themselves unknowingly and its one of the things we try to do is to try and educate people to contact the company and say okay where do you source this form. Companies which are upfront and ethical will tell you and ones that aren’t, you might want to stay clear of them.
Raquel: Yeh, so how was that experience for you? What sort of products were you using before you transitioned to using your own products and clean beauty?
Wendi: Um, it was like everybody else. You know for me it was like a cat with a shiny object you know, ooh look at the pretty packaging!
Raquel: Yeh me too, like ‘anti-aging’, I haven’t seen this one before!
Wendi: Yeh! You know so I would try everything – brand after brand that make all these promises and typically do not deliver. So um, I used everything from skincare products. I used peels to masks, moisturisers to eye creams and I had really horrible puff eyes and under eye dark circles because of all the autoimmune inflammation I was dealing with. And I was just like looking for the holy grail to solve that problem. And that never happened. And in fact, what I was putting on my skin, especially my face, was making things worse. And make up, I wear less makeup now than I used to, but I used to wear a tonne of make up to try and cover all of that up and I didn’t even know if but I was making the problem even worse. And that’s when I literally threw everything out and was like oh my god this has to be answer!
Raquel: So tell us about Kudarat, and where did the name come from, the inspiration? I know obviously you developed the products based on a need and you had some very severe health issues, um but can you tell us a little more about the inspiration behind the branding?
Wendi: Yeh so um, Kudarat is actually a Hindi and Sanskrit and an Urdu word.
Raquel: I’m glad you corrected me, I’m like Kudarat! [laughter]
Wendi: Yeh its fine [laughter], its literally translated as nature, and since all our ingredients are based on plants, we are a vegan and cruelty free company. We don’t even use bees wax or anything like that in our products, nothing from any animals, everything is truly from a plant. We wanted to come up with a word that really described what we were about. And you know, we looked for a lot of English words, and every thing was taken or just didn’t have the right feel and flow to it. And um, since I have a strong connection what the Indian culture, um it totally made sense and it totally fit. And one of our sayings is ‘lets get back to nature and make a difference together’ and so that word really kind of exemplifies what were about. And I’m also a geologists, so I wanted to have something to that was kind of a personal connection for me to, that just felt really holistic. So that’s really kind of how it came about, its really kind of simple. It just kind of happened like that.
Raquel: Can you tell us what your most popular Kudarat Skincare product is?
Wendi: Yeh, I would say the face serum. And the reason for that is because most serums out there typically one issue – we put everything into a single bottle. So it address everything, from correcting dark spots, it evens out skin tone, you literally feel your skin lifting and tightening when you put it on your face and it helps with fine lines as well. And so it’s really an amazing all in one product and people really respond to it. It’s really light, its not heavy, it absorbs really quickly. And you can put your make up on over it and your not going to have any issues with that. And people have really responded to that.
Raquel: I love that, that sounds amazing – just a really good light weight serum. And for someone who wanted to transition into clean beauty, do you have some tips for them?
Wendi: Yeh, it can be completely overwhelming if you try and throw out everything all at once. I would start with your face products and the reason is because, I mean most people, and I’m sure most people who are part of your audience, are very educated in this area. We absorb what we put on our skin, its average 60% of your body but when it comes to your face, and some other special body parts, you actually absorb up to 100%. And with your face, your absorbing it through your skin, it can get in through your eyes, your nose your mouth, so there’s a lot of ways for you to absorb those toxic ingredients into your body. And so I would say start with that. And I would especially start with whatever you put on your face first – your moisturiser, your eye cream, your serum. Start with those. Then start researching some good clean cosmetic companies out there. There’s a couple that I use and I’m really happy with, and um, they really are transparent as well. There very much into clean beauty and they are very transparent with their labelling and what they put in their products. And if they’re not gluten free they will actually state that – some of them are and some of them aren’t.
Raquel: That’s important – I think people want to say what they are but not what they aren’t.
Wendi: Yeh, so um, that’s what I would do. Um, I would say stuff like shampoo, at the bottom of the list, because that’s like a rinse off thing. Unless people shower with their mouth wide open, you know, most people don’t eat their shampoo. I would say that’s at the bottom of the list. And yeh its jus kind of a do it one thing at a time, don’t overwhelm yourself and of course we are here to help people too and answer any questions and make suggestions. So if people want to reach out with more than happy to help provide that information.
Raquel: Awesome, that’s an awesome service. And so also, you are going to be in a book, called Women Who Influence, which I think is amazing. Can you tell us a little bit about the book?
Wendi: Sure. So the book actually launches next week on the 27th (March 2018), which is amazing! I’m so excited! But, um, the book, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series and Jack Canfield..
Raquel: Yes, I need to read that.
Wendi: Yes, I did to. And um, the woman who is doing this book series, she’s an amazing woman named Kate Butler, and this is actually the third book, she’s getting ready to launch the fourth book, and its very similar to the Chicken Soup Series, and Jack Canfield is actually a very dear friend of hers and her mentor. So every book is a guaranteed best seller because his endorsement really helps. But the stories are amazing. And each book is ‘Women Who’, so this book is ‘Women Who Influence’ like women who inspire or women who impact or whatever. And Kate came to me and said, you have this incredible story and I would love for you to write your story and share it with the world. And I was like, oh my gosh, what a huge honour. And so I did, I wrote the story. I started with you know, when I started experiencing health issues in grad school and talked about the entire journey that lead to Kudarat being founded and the whole point of the story was to allow people, especially women, to feel armed and dangerous. So they are armed with all this information and inspiration and hope that there is an answer and there is a solution out there to help you heal or to help you avoid getting sick with these diseases in the first place. And I’m just really excited for the story to reach such a huge audience and hopefully it will inspire some people to make some changes in their lives.
Raquel: Yeh it sounds great! So its coming out on the 27th, where can people go and buy it?
Wendi: They can go and buy it on Amazon, and if they just look up Women Who Influence, they will be able find that on Amazon. Or if they look up Kate Butler on Amazon it will come up under her too.
Raquel: That’s great, well we will be throwing it on our social media as well, yeh absolutely. And also, other questions too, because we wanted to feature you because you’ve reached a certain level of success and you’ve probably had some struggles to get here, and we’d love to hear about the ups and downs. And actually what I want to say is there’s so much empowerment in starting your own business, especially as a women, and in something you care so deeply about because obviously something that’s affected your health. And so the ups far outweigh the down. So I just wanted to hear, maybe some inspirational words, that you could give to other entrepreneurs, not just in the beauty industry but women in general who are looking to start a business.
Wendi: I would say for me, because you are right there are downs, it’s a wild wild ride, so I would say your why has to be so big, that you are not going to quit no matter what. Because there are days when I wake up and I’m like, ‘what I am doing’ you know, but then there are other days I’m like ‘oh my gosh I could not imagine not doing this!’. It really is a wold ride, so for anyone who wants to start a business on their own, treat it like an adventure, expect that every single say is going to be a wild ride, even from minute to minute. It just depends amazing things happen and then of course not so great things happen, that’s all part of it. And I would encourage people, especially women, to write themselves a letter, like its three years from now. Or even write that letter to a friend, that they haven’t talked to – and three years from the future and act like everything they want to happen has already happened. And describe that in detail to help them work out what there why is. Because if there why isn’t big enough, your gonna quit, you just are.
Raquel: Yeh, I agree.
Wendi: And I would say that is the single best thing a person can do for themselves. And I would say, think about why your doing what your doing. It has to be bigger than just because I want to do this or..
Raquel: I want to make money..
Wendi: Yeh, I want to make money, because my god, there are easier ways to make money than starting a company from scratch, believe me! [laughter] Yeh I left a really lucrative career for this, so um yeh. [laughter] So I would say that’s it, you know don’t give up. Always keep your eye on the prize at the end of the tunnel, you know how is what your doing going to make a difference in the world. Would world be a better place with you and your company in it or would it be missing something amazing if you weren’t in it. And if you can keep that perspective, it will really keep you going in the tough times.
Raquel: I think that’s really good advice. And one thing I want to add, and is what I’ve realised as well is I never get anything right the first time, ever. Ever. And so to get it right, you have to get that first time out the way and just go for it. And that’s why its so important that your why is big enough, because you’ve got to get over that mentality that you know ‘oh I’m going to give up because it didn’t work out for me’. Its not a blocked door, it’s a door you can open, you can try it again, you can try a different key. There’s different avenues to the next step you just need to believe it.
Wendi: Yeh, you have to not be afraid to fail. I don’t look at failures as failures actually, I look at them as learning experiences. Because when things are going right, its easy, its when things don’t happen the way you want or the way you expect, there is always a huge learning experience in that. And when I look back, especially to the first year, so this is our second year, we really didn’t even launch till last May, but this is our second year is business, but when I first started this journey I was pretty much on my own, and if I didn’t go through those stumbling blocks I would never have found Anna, whose my amazing business development and marketing partner. I mean she’s just like the bomb, I mean I cant even imagine what things would be like without her. And we have an amazing global adviser now whose joined us and just cant even say enough about him either. And I think some times you have to go through failures to find out what you really need, and the kinds of people you need to surround yourself with. And in fact this is kind of a wild story , but I went through three different web developers before we found the one that we work with now, and she’s incredible. But it took having to go through that experience to find out what works for us and what doesn’t. And so I would tell people that too , don’t be afraid of those failures. Just keep going through it and try and see what it is that your supposed to learn from it. Don’t quit, just don’t quit.
Raquel: Just don’t quit. Just get back up. Yeh I like that. And so you guys have done a fabulous job. So what are the next steps for Kudarat?
Wendi: Oh gosh, so I would say, were getting ready to launch into India this year.
Raquel: Wow! That is huge – awesome!
Wendi: Yeh, it is huge. The thing about going into India that is unique, is that they have extremely stringent guidelines for importing beauty products in their country. So if you can get approved and registered by their version of the FDA, you are on the top of your game and your products are the best of the best. They do not allow any testing on animals, their products must be all plant based, they do not allow animal ingredients in their products, they have to be approved for safety. It’s a six month arduous process that you have to go through, and you cannot sell in their country until you are approved. And if you are caught selling, there’s all kinds of issues associated with that. And so the connection that I have with the Indian culture, you know it was just a win win. And Indians are very open to clean beauty products, I mean they have used plants for thousands of years. Its talking to the choir kind of and maybe giving them something which is a little more sophisticated than what they have at present. And were also getting ready to launch big here in the US too. We brought another person on who is getting us into some really nice retailers that were really excited about.
Raquel: That is awesome!
Wendi: They aren’t in yet, but as soon as they are I’ll be sure to announce it.
Raquel: Yeh that sounds really awesome, I’m excited for you guys. So if people wanted to get a hold of your products, where should they go?
Wendi: So right now the best way to get a hold of us is if you go to our website, and its kudaratskincare.com. And um, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. So they can just shoot me an email if they want. Were also on Instagram, @kudaratskincare, and were on Twitter, and Facebook. And its all @kudaratskincare across the board so people can find us there too. And um, I would say were also on Radiant Roots, its an online clean beauty platform, and that’s really where were at now. So last year there was a big push to go to a lot of tradeshows and get our name out there and get exposure. This year is really about starting to launch big at retailers and other outlets in the US.
Raquel: That’s amazing, I’m so excited to see you growing. And your moving internationally, that’s huge, that’s really huge. So congrats to you and your team. Thank you for coming on the Clean Chat today and we will definitely be updating our fans about your brand. Thank you Wendy, have a fabulous day.
Wendi: Not a problem, and thank you for having us on!