Evelyn Subramaniam, Founder of Bija Essence, discovered her knack for entrepreneurship at an early age. She describes having “played shop” with her toys, arranging them as if they were on a store front. I’d like to think that she was a visionary at this age, paving the way for her future self!
However, Evelyn first decided to explore the world of modeling and reporting during her teenage and young adult years after winning a modeling contest in New York City. She worked as a model and reporter for Univision for a while before eventually deciding to run her own business – Bija Essence.
Flash to present – all of her career-related dreams came true!
It was the skills that she learned from her time in these industries that prepared her for her role at Bija Essence. Her resilience — which I was in awe of when I first met her — helped tremendously in the pursuit of her own brand. No matter what was thrown at her, Evelyn didn’t let it define her. After all, every “no” is a step closer towards the “yes”.
Now – where did her idea to create a massage oil brand originate? She describes a trip to India in which she and her husband visited her mother-in-law with their babies. Evelyn observed how she tenderly massaged coconut oil into her babies’ scalps — an incredibly intimate, bonding experience for both parties. It was this, in addition to her studies in Ayurveda and her interviews with NYC natives attending the class, that bolstered her dream of creating a wellness-inspired beauty brand.
Did I mention that Evelyn’s favorite slogan is Nike’s, “Just Do It”? When considering whether to open up a business of her own, her husband said to her, “just go for it”. And that she did! After gifting a few of her homemade oils to her friends and family, she decided to take the advice of her husband to formally open her own business. The culmination is her own line of products aimed at reducing lymphatic, circulatory and anxiety-related issues.
As the owner of a small brand, Evelyn had some relevant advice to share regarding retail partnerships and investments. She aptly mentioned the importance of maintaining a brand’s capital and sticking to a business plan – as well a standing firmly by your values – when looking to grow a small business. She was passionate in explaining the merit of having values, as they are powerful in establishing a pattern of honesty and transparency, both of which resonate with the modern day consumer. A brand’s story is as important as the products sold and consumers love to be a part of the journey.
It’s important to note that not everything was sunshine and roses for Evelyn. During her first year she was met with some challenges: timing, working long hours and packaging. It was her ability to be flexible, adapt and stay strong in the face of adversity that led her through the brambles. In the wise words of Evelyn, “one thing I learned in business is that you face challenges almost every single day”. It’s how you react to them that paves the way!