Published in the February 2013 edition of Lonely Planet Magazine India, an article about Amrita and Santosh’s company SOS Organics:
When the people at Itmenaan Estate in Almora, Uttarakhand, told me about a soap Factory near the Chitai Temple, I expected a dim, boring place with machines clanking away and the overpowering smell of floral extracts hanging in the air. Turns out, the SOS Organics factory (which stands for Sharing Organic Standards) is a quaint structure with a little revolving gate and creepers climbing its walls and the Himalayas in the distance. And it isn’t just a soap factory either, it’s also a natural cosmetics and organic health food company, run by Bangalore-based Amrita Chengappa and Germany-based Santosh Thomas.
The four-year-old factory, hidden from view from the main road, is based on an environmentally sustainable project through which they try to preserve the natural resources of the hills as well as the local Kumaoni culture. Santosh believes that by providing employment opportunities right here, the locals need not move to cities in search of livelihood. Amrita looks after the marketing, while Santosh researches local millet, which he calls a superfood, and then processes and packs it to be sold all over the country. Take a free tour of the factory and you’ll be greeted by giggling groups of local girls who make candles, soaps and creams by hand and wrap them in colourful paper before piling them up in cartons to be delivered to select hotels and stores across India.
The popularity of the products is growing, but the duo doesn’t want to increase the production because that will only mean ruining the quietude of the area. The women at their factory, too, can only work from 9am to 5pm, as they have families to look after. It’s an easy pace of working, and they want to keep it that way.
You can learn more about the products and buy them on sosorganics.com
Article by Hardika Panchal, Lonely Planet Magazine India