TheGlitz ‘Super Woman’ Harini Sivakumar, Founder & CEO, Earth Rhythm

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Featured in 100 Emerging Women Leaders by YourStory and honoured with BW Businessworld Disrupt 40 under 40, The Glitz ‘Super Woman’ Harini Sivakumar is the Founder & CEO of Earth Rhythm, an environmentally conscious and sustainable home-grown D2C brand that offers professional-grade products in hair care, skin care, and makeup lines. She challenged the norms of the skincare and beauty industry with a mission to manufacture clean and sustainable personal care products. Read on to know more about TheGlitz ‘Super Woman’ Harini Sivakumar’s unique journey.

Born and brought up in Chennai, Harini Sivakumar has previously worked in the banking industries such as Kotak Mahindra Bank and Standard Chartered Bank. An MBA in retail management by profession, and an entrepreneur at heart & by passion, Harini decided to quit her job to take care of her elder son who was born with Down Syndrome and went on exploring products that were fragrance-free and 100% natural.

Her knowledge and experience have aided Earth Rhythm in becoming one of the fastest-growing D2C brands in the skincare and beauty segment today. Harini has been a keen observer when it comes to consumer trends in the skincare and beauty industry, as she believes in the growth of natural products in the market that works for your skin, and have a net-zero plastic footprint on the environment.
For the initial months, she focused mostly on studying skin formulations, and what differences she could bring to the market, and then started making soaps from scratch for her son. That’s how Soapworks India, a small home-based proprietorship company in 2017 was born, which went on to become Earth Rhythm in 2019. A true-born leader with a set company vision, Harini brings her expertise as a Cosmetic Scientist to the table, with a degree in Formula Botanica & Diploma in Advanced Cosmetic Science.

Harini Sivakumar with her father Sivakumar

Your journey has had many momentous milestones. Could you tell us about your life-changing journey that has moulded you to be what you are today?

My own journey, like that of many, was ridden with obstacles and hurdles that I dealt with one at a time. Back in 2015, my son’s skin condition and a failed search for safe products to treat it led me to establish a home-based setup of soapmaking that was safe to use. After doing that for a year or two, I decided to convert this into a mainstream business, where I began putting up stalls in condominiums and small-scale exhibitions, selling these products. What motivated me to take this up full-time was the response I began receiving from family and friends, and customers I sold the products to via various offline avenues. Encouraged and driven, I then decided to scale the business, thus, in 2019, Earth Rhythm was born. I also went on to study skin formulations and completed courses – Formula Botanica & Diploma in Advanced Cosmetic Science. I never dreamt of being an entrepreneur back then, however, when the idea of creating a product and knowing what went into the product started taking shape, I became more and more confident of the journey ahead.

Could you list 3 of your major achievements?
– The journey that led to the establishment of Earth Rhythm.
– Employing the first girl who worked with me. She was a simple town girl with no experience, but learned everything and eventually evolved. She began suggesting numerous marketing strategies and is today an inspiration for many. That’s an achievement for me, too.
– The trust that customers have in Earth Rhythm products. It drives me forward.

What are the setbacks you have faced? How did you tackle these setbacks or challenges? And what lesson have you learned from it?
Gender bias in our country is inescapable. Voluntarily or not, it pops up every now and then. My entrepreneurial journey wasn’t bereft of it either. When I began meeting investors for my venture, I quickly became aware of the sheer lack of trust they had in women, leave alone investing in a business led by a woman. I realised that there was more than I was pitching for, not just a solid idea. Their reasons may have been as arbitrary as they were plenty, even fictitious (if I may say so), but I wasn’t one to back down and the result is for everyone to see.

Another gender-based bias that I have often faced is the discomfort men feel when there’s a woman at the helm of an organisation. This is definitely prevalent in senior-level management. Men prefer being led by men in the corporate & business world, a criterion they take into account when considering a company or job profile. At any level, people are hired based on their skills. Executive-level positions call for leadership and the ability to add value to the organisation. Both men and women stand an equal chance here, but for a company being led by a woman, the pool of talent she can consider is limited because of the hesitation. I believe men lose out on some good opportunities, too, in all that bias! Merit must top all else, I feel.

When you look back, what are the three qualities in you that have helped you become what you are today?
Grit, Perseverance and Humility.

Who are the people who have been the wind behind your wings?
My family at home for their immense support and my family at work for their unfaltering commitment.

Lastly, if there was a quote to define you, what would it be?
It would be from my son Bhargav who has taught me to truly enjoy life and appreciate it. He taught me that “Going slow is good.”

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