Founder of Plantkos Skincare, Sejal Patel didn’t grow up dreaming of launching her own beauty brand. In fact, most of her life she didn’t feel seen or reflected in any beauty ads. At a very young age, her Indian culture conditioned her to believe “that the lighter the skin, the more beautiful the girl.” Colorism impacted the way she perceived her own beauty and for years she felt frustrated not finding products that worked to help heal her skin from irregular pigmentation, inflammation, and dryness.
“While growing up in India, I still clearly remember seeing two skincare ads over and over again. One was for a cream to visibly lighten your complexion and one was an Ayurvedic cream to protect your skin,” Patel tells thirteen lune. “I recall my mom using Ayurvedic cream. In high school and college it was more about using what I could afford and I didn’t really start using makeup until sophomore year in college. I think it was all a reflection of how my mom approached beauty products — simple and minimalist.”
Patel studied to become a pharmacist and became an expert in understanding ingredient synergies. But when her daughter started developing skin issues, no pill or medical concoction would work. She was then inspired to lean into Ayurvedic wisdom.
“I never imagined myself as a CEO of a beauty in the beauty industry. [My daughter’s] diagnosis of pigmentary mosaicism led me on the path of researching ingredients in her skincare products, which eventually led me to taking a closer look at the products I was using,” she says. “This is where I was able to use my education and training as a pharmacist and my Indian heritage to better understand why the needs of those with deeply melanated skin are different and why certain ingredients, Ayurvedic herbs, and their synergy works better for those needs.”
Patel’s beauty philosophy is simple, gentle and effective.
“I do not like using too many products in my skincare routine and each product has to have a purpose,” she adds.
“That’s why I developed a line where the entire routine uses all five products and can be finished in about five minutes. Products must be gentle yet effective. Each Plantkos product is suitable for all skin types and is clinically tested for effectiveness.”
Get to Know – Sejal Patel
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in India until the age of 14. Then we immigrated to Illinois and I lived there until 2015, when we moved to Orlando, Florida.
What does self-care look like in your life?
I’m guilty of not taking enough time for myself. But I do make it a point to exercise at least 3 times per week, mainly strength training and meditate using Headspace app, at least once a day, even if it’s for a few minutes.
What inspires you most about the beauty landscape and industry today?
The growth and opportunities for indie brands to showcase themselves through retailers like yourself and others. I think indie brands are where the innovation in the beauty industry is.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
Managing a budget between wants and needs in launching a brand. It was particularly tough navigating through this being a novice in the industry, but I was lucky enough to connect with experts who were able to help me.
What has been the biggest win thus far?
Being accepted to The Detox Market’s The Launchpad, which is an initiative to help BIPOC founders launch new green beauty brands and accelerate their growth. I am really humbled to have Plantkos be a part of this initiative because as a novice in the industry, I am really looking forward to the senior-level mentorship and learning from them and other founders.
What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry?
Continuing to support and mentor BIPOC founders through accelerator programs is absolutely critical and I am really thrilled to see many small and big retailers participating. The conversation needs to start early by recognizing that one size does not fit all, which is being done and it’s a great start. Next, take the time to really see and understand the unique needs of those with melanin rich skin by having an open conversation about those needs. Then get experts involved at the development stage to formulate products suitable for this specific cohort.”