Beauty solutions with a touch of the royal skincare secrets. That’s the Royal Range by Global Beauty Secrets. Global Beauty Secrets, launched in 2017, collaborated with Mrinalika M Bhanjdeo, princess of Mayurbhanj, Belgadia, Odisha, for this range. The Telegraph spoke with Aishwarya Nir Swarna, founder, Global Beauty Secrets, and Mrinalika, to find out more.
Aishwarya and Mrinalika, how did the collaboration come about?
Aishwarya: I have often witnessed my mother and grandmother talk about traditional beauty rituals that have been a part of their lives for as long as I can remember. Whether it’s a simple routine of oiling my hair every night, using different oils to massage onto the body, or a long-running self-care practice of applying the one face ubtan they swore by for decades, the customs are endless. This made me realise that women around the world had unique beauty secrets like mine to take care of themselves. It is this idea that inspired me to discover for myself all the unique cultures and skincare rituals from around the world.
By happenstance, she (Mrinalika) reached out to us a year ago. For us, it was a privilege and a pleasure to propose the possibility of celebrating her roots and reinterpreting her family’s beauty secrets for the modern Indian woman. We are the voice that seeks to represent heritage beauty rituals from across the world, and that is what attracted me to dive deeper into Mayurbhanj and discover the rich legacy of India’s royal past.
Mrinalika: I am a certified yoga teacher with expertise in Hatha and Yin yoga styles. Additionally, I have always been passionate about organic brands in the health and wellness space. I stumbled upon the brand Global Beauty Secrets while searching for an authentic beauty brand to partner with.
Collaborating on a beauty range with Global Beauty Secrets (GBS) has been an exciting journey, as it allows the world to experience first-hand the community and culture of India’s best-kept secret — Odisha! I was certain that I could not find a better partner to introduce the world to Odisha’s beauty secrets— especially a brand that took the time to do the research and understand the region-specific ingredients and rituals associated with beauty here.
Mrinalika, is this your first time in such a collaboration?
Yes, with the launch of this range, I aim to shine a light on the powerful heritage and customs of offbeat rural locations and pay homage to the communities who have preserved them for so long with utmost care.
What were the starting points about what you wanted to put out there?
Aishwarya: The starting point was we wanted to be as authentic as possible. From the ingredients, and the name of the product to the packaging, we wanted it all to be something that was all about Mayurbhanj. So, we started with extensive research, calls, and video calls to know everything so that we can get everything on point and also not miss out on a single detail. After extensive research, we conceived a potent capsule collection that captures the essence of the royals of Mayurbhanj. The ingredients that were used in making the products have a unique story and meaning behind them. The artwork of packaging, labels, mono cartons, leaflets, and gift boxes, all have the actual Belgadia Palace architecture on them and are a replica of the palace. The Sabai grass given in the box is made by the tribal communities of Mayurbhanj, the motifs used are the actual elements found in the palace. So, these details were something that needed extensive research and work so that we could give our customers and community the exquisite feel of the place and culture.
Mrinalika: The curation of the three beauty products beautifully showcases the melange of the communities and their indigenous knowledge of flora and fauna present in Odisha’s largest district, Mayurbhanj. The home remedies passed down through generations by the women of the family were used as the key ingredients in this collection.
Mrinalika, what were your inputs like?
The Mayurbhanj collection was inspired by beauty secrets passed down by women of the erstwhile royal family and pays homage to the indigenous groups who have resided in the state. The name of oils is based on the Santhali words. ‘Kukmu’ means ‘dreams’, ‘phakura’ means ‘wings’ and ‘baha’ means hibiscus. The copper wing face tool ‘phakura’ is special as they were inspired by the wings of the peacock from our family emblem, and were reminiscent of the ‘tamra’ pots we used in our rasoi ghar.
Aishwarya, what of Mrinalika’s tips did you find fascinating?
Her eye for detail was something which was really fascinating. For the packaging designs, she made sure that each and every element used was something that was a replica of the palace. She was cooperative and patient with the process and helped out with every detail asked. Also, her love for her people is really commendable. She showed us all the art and crafts done by the tribal community and was always standing proud behind them to support their work.
Tell us a bit about the range...
Aishwarya: Harta — Beauty Secrets from the House of Mayurbhanj features the uniquely crafted Baha Hibiscus Hair Dew, Sandal Dar, and Kukmu Mahua Face Oil, and the exquisitely designed Pakhura Copper Sculpting Wing. The coffret is a tribute to the charming Belgadia Palace. When you gently open the palace doors on the box, your fingers rest upon the Baha Hibiscus Hair Dew. An elixir enriched with Ecocert-certified ingredients, it draws inspiration from her love for baha, a beautiful word in Santhali for flowers, and of the powerful hibiscus flower. The Baha Hibiscus Hair Dew is a multifaceted serum that deep-conditions, reduces breakage, and adds lustre to hair.
The Pakhura Copper Sculpting Wing is crafted from 100 per cent copper or tamra. This metal, as per Ayurvedic texts, is closely entwined with the sun that’s revered throughout the state of Odisha and is represented through its architectural marvels, the glorious sun temples. It’s the perfect massage tool for healthy and shiny hair.
Finally, the high-performance Kukmu Mahua Face Oil is a lightweight and perfectly balanced luxurious oil that transforms the skin with its potent cruelty-free plant-based ingredients. In the local Santhali language, kukmu is a doorway into a dream world. The mahua flower is princess Mrinalika’s inspiration behind this natural formulation. For generations, the enchanting madhuca longifolia or mahua tree has been revered by the Santhal tribe and is richly entwined with their folklore and livelihood. It is a lightweight and luxurious oil that transforms the skin.
There are so many stories about how our royalty would take care of themselves. Mrinalika, can you share some from your childhood years?
The memories I have as a young child of the women of the house coming together in the zenana (women’s chambers) by hand-collecting, curing and fusing the healing ingredients of the hibiscus flowers, and creating this elixir for all of us at the royal household, storing them in the tamra bowls, like precious stones in hand-carved boxes, in the rasoi ghar near the black stone mortar and pestle used for grinding the flower. The overpowering fragrance and the joyous comradery between the women of different ages, languages, who bonded together in the making of the products, stayed with me. The women of the Mayurbhanj households have come from faraway lands such as Nepal, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Mrinalika, as a modern royalty, what is your idea of beauty?
Beauty is how you feel internally. For young girls they should really go back to their roots and listen to their grandmother’s beauty rituals. In this day and age, with so many products containing a plethora of harmful chemicals, ancient beauty rituals are what save the day. Their beauty regimen is completely natural and does not cause much harm to the skin.
Aishwarya, what has been your biggest takeaway from this collaboration?
Through Harta — Beauty Secrets from the House of Mayurbhanj, we have tried to abide by the four laws that define every Global Beauty Secrets’ product. We celebrate the collective wisdom of women from across the world. We are inspired by global cultures and stories. We infuse natural ingredients into our products. Our rituals are an alchemy of tradition and advanced science.
When I started the brand in 2017, my dream was to usher in beauty secrets from around the world. Working with a team akin to my family, we poured our heart and soul in bringing Global Beauty Secrets to life. We stand by the concept of sharing beauty secrets of families from across the globe, by reaching out to women who are active practitioners, lovers or preachers of traditions in their community. It’s our vision to make their legacy accessible, while honouring the cultures they represent.