May 28, 2017

Evolution of The Neem People

seedling-fertile-ground-e1284564039611_edited-2In the beginning there was the word

..and the word was Neem Tea.

The Evolution of the Neem People has been an interesting journey! We had planned to launch Perpetua Herbals (as The Neem People was originally called) with just one product – Neem Tea –  which was not really a “tea” but tea bags containing crushed  herbs and Neem leaves, manufactured by a fledgling company in India. The venue was Chilford Hall in Linton, Cambs., and it was a weekend MBS event. We chose this venue and event as we hoped that the visitors would be a sympathetic captive audience. The Tea was en route from India, by ship, and it was touch and go as to whether it would arrive in time for the exhibition.

It did not, but it did not deter us as we stood at an empty stand and explained to the visitors what we had hoped to sell them. To our utter amazement twelve trusting souls paid us in advance and asked us to send the Tea to them when we finally received the shipment. Were we onto something? It was our first ever visit to any Natural Healing type exhibition and we were anxious to learn, so I took time to walk around to see what and how the other exhibitors were selling and doing. Our meagre financial resources reminded us that we had to cut our suit according to our cloth. I saw, also, that most vendors did not depend on selling just one product so we would have to consider selling other items. Our focus was on the Natural Healing, Mind, Body, Spirit market so we needed health and beauty products.

A good friend, Julia Cornborough, introduced us to her aromatherapy supplier who is also a pharmaceutical chemist and that brought about the formulation and manufacture of our Neem Skin Cream. We then added more beauty products and the product range was gradually extended to include soaps. This came about by a chance encounter at an exhibition in Barnsley, when I was talking to stand holder selling soaps.

Thinking laterally, we thought of our own hygiene needs, leading us to include oral hygiene products and this proved to be an important part of our sales, as we found that oral hygiene problems were common and there was a demand for information and the right products to suit the varying needs. Call it chance or opportunity seized; our dentist in India prescribed Gum Tone for Marjorie and this is now in demand by our clients.

We had agreed, when we started this venture, that we would not deviate from the revered NEEM TREE which is rightly called The Village Pharmacy and, as we getting established on the exhibition circuit, we were often approached by MLM “Official Distributor” type sellers trying to induce us to include their products. We row our own boat; you row yours.

Neem Tea was our first product but it was not everyone’s cup of tea, even though they needed Neem. Lateral thinking lead us to encapsulate Neem and this, again, lead us to include capsules for vegetarians. The world was waking up to the fact that common vegetables and spices had a plethora of benefits and, thinking selfishly about ourselves, we combined Neem with Bitter Melon (Marjorie is diabetic) in capsule form and discovered from customer feedback that these capsules also helped reduce blood pressure. The same thinking brought about the combining of Neem and Turmeric, now a best seller.

A dilemma: You do not tread water in business; you grow or you sink. How can we enjoy what we are doing without catching a tiger by the tail. Our friends remind us that we started this business as a hobby and it is now a fulltime job. We need a lifeline.