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As a young girl growing up in India, Vinita Jain became fascinated with the spiritual practices and herbal remedies of Himalayan monks living in caves on her family’s tea plantation in Darjeeling and Assam. That interest led to the study of biotechnology in Switzerland and culminated this week with the arrival of her new upscale skin care line, called Vinita, at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Along the way, Jain built a masstige-priced hair, skin and body care business in India, a Delhi-based brand called Biotique, with a wholesale volume industry sources have estimated at $150 million. But her dream remained to launch a premium-priced skin care brand, based on the age-old concepts of Kaya Kalp, which means body rejuvenation in Sanskrit, according to Jain’s company, Bio Veda Action Research Inc. She said her strategy was to combine ancient technology with modern science and “spread it to the world.”
The old science, which dates back 5,000 years to the advent of yoga and the Kama Sutra, was actually a recipe for an ingestible diet and a spiritual journey and quest for enlightenment, not a beauty regimen. Improvements in appearance became a by-product of a process predicated on prolonging youthfulness and therefore increasing chances for enlightenment. Called the “food of the masters,” Jain said, “it is a way of life that balances the mind, body and spirit. Today’s people want wellness, beauty and balance in mind, body and spirit.”
And Jain has high hopes. Although she would not provide numbers, sources indicate that the goal is to generate more than $5 million at retail in the first 12 months on counter and at the end of five years achieve a plateau of $100 million. Once the brand is rolled out beyond the original five Saks doors, more will be added in the fall and executives envision a future distribution of specialty stores.
In addition to herbs like saffron, basil, Indian gooseberry and tinospora cordifloria, the formulas also depend upon crushed minerals of diamonds, pearls, gold and silver to promote smoothness and radiance while improving skin density, firmness and elasticity, the company said. The technique of hand-crushing stones, called bhasma, is meant to release the mineral’s energy while also enabling the particles to be absorbed by the skin and theoretically activate energy within the body. According to long-held theories, diamonds are thought to improve radiance, pearls are said to add sun protection, gold supposedly strengthens skin and silver rejuvenates and acts as an antibacterial defense.
Vinita is not the only brand to use minerals. Bulgari crushed and liquefied gemstones in formulating its first skin care line, which was launched last year in Italy, and Aveda has used crushed tourmaline in products.
The overall aim of the Vinita skin care brand is to promote growth of young skin cells and strengthen fragile mature cells while detoxifying old, dead cells, Jain said. A choice of three teas are offered — Indian madder, Indian pennywort and winter Bhumiamla — to flush out impurities and waste from the body.
The line, consisting of six skin care products and a box of 28 tea bags for $75, is designed to promote hydration, moisture retention, firmness and antioxidant protection. Price points range from $75 for a 5.1-oz. cleanser with a bhasma of silver, to $225 for a day cream with SPF 15 and a bhasma of diamonds, $250 for a 1.7-oz. night cream with a bhasma of silver and pearl and $300 for an elixir with a bhasma of gold, diamond and pearl.
In addition to being featured in the Saks Fifth Avenue catalogue, the line will be promoted by heavy sampling. Executives plan on handing out 25,000 deluxe 7-ml. versions of the night cream packaged in cartons.