Sourcing locally, distributing widely
My first brush with Pahadi Local was not among scented pine trees in the Himalayas. Rather, it was last year, in Jaipur, during the literature festival. At The Bees Knees, a sprightly pop-up held in the lawns of the charming Hotel Narain Niwas Palace, little clay bees, bellies striped yellow and black and wings fashioned from old snipped up film negatives, dangled from the tent. Just across the canopy, a bunch of their bulbous, animated brethren buzzed around a rustic table set with tea and honey from Pahadi Local. I settled down for a hot cuppa of delicious brew, my first quaff of the brand.
Pahadi Local scours for wellness and other native Himalayan products. Its founder, Jessica Jayne, moved to Shimla in 2012. In the bitter cold winter she discovered that the locals slathered on apricot oil on their skin, an elixir that kept it from peeling, leaving it plump and supple. Gifting gutti ka tel to her friends, she realised that she could make a viable business from it—by bringing centuries’ old village traditions to the forefront—products used by the village folk, untouched by the excesses of modern manufacturing. Instead of getting involved in production, Jessica identifies, sources and distributes the natural and cultural bounty of the villages under the Pahadi Local brand—be it a handcrafted sher mukh kada or chigoo pashminas. The repertoire is vast: oils, tea, honey and more, an abundant caboodle from the hills. An entrepreneur, Jessica, who was behind boutique creative merchandising agency SharkFin, speaks about her love for Sinatra, building trust and the virtue of patience.
I source pure products directly from orchards, monasteries and villages. We are working towards empowering local communities, promoting fair trade and mirroring cooperative structures. For a few products we work on a royalty-to-source programme that kicks in after the initial purchase.
On brand values
I believe that it is important to stand by your commitment and deliver what you claim—be it organic, natural or authentic. You always reach a tipping point when it’s time to commercialise a business and some might take the decision to compromise quality and their beliefs in order to reach a wider market. With my partner, Udit Sheth (of infrastructure company TransStadia, which has interests in sports and wellness); I ensure that I am true to the consumer and my artisans. Building such a brand is based on trust.
On slow living
I think it’s the right time for people to make a conscious lifestyle choice. And if by these words they find it easier to convert, then I guess it works. For me, slow living is taking time out to appreciate, to learn and to listen—things that can be forgotten in the daily grind of work and travel.
My asylum is music—that’s what balances me. Few people know that I am an audio engineer by education and that I come from a family of musicians. I grew up listening to great music.
On a life motto
One day or day one—you decide.
On making in India
I think that it would be fair to give the government a few years to understand the requirements for the movement of sustainability, and then expect it to lend 100 per cent support. Initiatives like Make in India are working towards this growth sector. I believe they are doing a good job with it. Patience is key.
Our limited offering Chichiri honey is collected in a short window of fifteen days each year, in an Indian borage apiary. It has no additives or added flavours. We macro filter it with muslin cloth to retain its rawness and purity.
Books: The Magic Faraway Tree series
Music: Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, Collective Soul, Ludovico Einaudi, Air, Yiruma. I can go on!
For more information on Pahadi Local, visit www.pahadilocal.com