These women are making a strong case for eco-conscious living with soaps, upcycled products and home linen

Meets the founders of Common Oxen, Olie and Rimagined

Rashmi Rajagopal Lobo Published :  29th September 2017 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  29th September 2017 12:00 AM

There’s nothing common about Common Oxen, an organic detergent and personal care brand created by Bengaluru’s Delara Damania. At the entrance to her workshop on a quiet residential lane in Benson Town, sits a large terracotta pot, swarming with bees. “We try to use the honey that we make ourselves in the soaps and detergents of Common Oxen,” Delara, a former television professional and visual communications graduate, says, as we try to enter her office without getting stung. Surrounded by a beautiful garden, the workshop is the ideal setting for a brand that prides itself on using purely natural ingredients. The brand’s offerings include soaps, deodorants and laundry powder. “Essential oils are a part of most of my products,” says Delara, adding, “As we use natural preservatives, shelf life is short. But the benefits far outweigh the negatives.” 

Common Oxen’s popular products include Swish Wash, a laundry powder made with botanical oil soap, rock salt, and essential oils of lemon and orange, and Cloudburst, their activated charcoal and bentonite clay soap. Also in high demand is their deodorant cream, Do The Birdy Dance, which is a blend of cold-pressed organic coconut and neem oils, cocoa butter and beeswax. Delara is currently working on creating liquid handwash, toothpaste and skin creams. 


Shailaja Rangarajan, Rimagined  

“By making this purchase you will pull away 4 kg of material from landfill,” reads the description of a silk-upholstered stool on the e-commerce site, The piece of furniture, christened ‘The silk swirl stool’ by Noida-based The Rug Republic, shares space with a host of other Indian labels championing eco-conscious consumption, such as, Tofa, Eco Wings, and the website’s in-house label, Rimagined. Bringing together all these brands under the Rimagined banner is Bengaluru’s Shailaja Rangarajan. 
“I started my voluntary work in solid-waste management around four years ago. The amount of garbage we generate today is unacceptable. Segregation and responsible handling of waste is one step. But the core of the problem lies at the source itself. I realised that conscious consump-tion is the only way ahead. From this urge to create a better place was born Rimagined,” explains Shailaja, who opened Rimagined’s first offline store two months ago in Whitefield.  

Rimagined’s shelves are stocked with kitchen essentials, garments, accessories, home decor and stationery, all made from waste, such as tetrapacks, broken glass, tyre tubes and excess fabric. Every product also comes with a ‘Rimagined score’, which is based on how much of waste is being taken away from landfill, decomposition rate of the materials used and its contribution to overall waste. The stool in question, for instance, has a score of 80. “While one focus area is upcyling, the other focus area for Rimagined is to create sustainable livelihoods. To enable this, we are expanding our presence of Joy@work units (their main partner, another city-based NGO, that turns tetra packs into baskets, discarded fabric into jewellery and more). Here we will be training women to create different upcycled products for us,” she says. 


When former Dubai resident Amrita Nambiar landed in Bengaluru as a wide-eyed teenager, there was something about the natural landscape that appealed to her. “Dubai is all manicured trees and skyscrapers. So to see plants and trees growing wild and free was something of a novelty,” recalls Amrita, who after a course at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat and a stint as a graphic designer-illustrator, launched her eco-conscious home decor label Olie, three years ago. 

The brand, which retails both online and  at its store in Indira Nagar, uses handwoven natural fabrics and banana fibre to create lamps, table runners, cushion covers, pillow covers, bedspreads and bags. Amrita puts her training as an illustrator to good use by designing the adorable motifs, from raindrops to teacups and dragonflies, that have come to define the label. Once designed by Amrita, the colours, which are lead-free, are hand-mixed and fabric is hand-printed by local artisans. “The idea behind Olie is to promote slow living, and enable city slickers to be drea-mers, by capturing fleeting moments through our work, be it a sudden gust of wind or falling leaves,” enthuses Amrita, who will  soon launch a new lighting range, which Olie (Tamil for ‘light’), is known for.