Urban Veda: the family business inspired by ancient Indian healing
Generations of the Shah family have believed in the healing power of herbs and spices – using them to maintain well-being and cure minor ailments.
Urban Veda's founding father, Manganlal Shah was an Ayurveda practitioner and became one of the first to bring the ancient Indian healing philosophy to the UK. He was fascinated to learn how these exotic herbs could treat internal ailments and brought his wealth of knowledge to the UK when he moved here in the 60s.
Neem for example, has potent antiseptic and antibacterial properties and turmeric is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant when taken internally. He then founded Fudco, one of the biggest nuts and spices distributors currently in the UK, which has been successfully running for 35+ years.
(Manganlal Shah, the founding father of Urban Veda)
His interest in the power of nature lived on long after his death and inspired his son Sheilesh to investigate how these herbs with natural properties could help the skin. He founded Urban Veda five years ago, with various family members, including his niece Tanya Shah working for the brand.
Tanya, 29, said: “Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health; we use meditation for the mind, yoga for the body and use herbs and spices for internal systems such as for the heart and liver. My ancestors used yoghurt and turmeric to improve the skin and neem to heal wounds and I’ve been raised to use Ayurveda as a guide help me find balance in my life.
“My uncle Sheilesh worked in my grandfather’s shop from a young age and learned all about the business. He came from a science background and was always fascinated by how those herbs can be used in skincare. He saw a gap in the market for an Ayurvedic skincare brand and started to experiment to create new products.”
Urban Veda uses natural ingredients like sandalwood, turmeric, ashwagandha, cinnamon, neem, rose, coriander and marigold; combining herbs, flowers and fruits and multivitamins to help skin repair and stay healthy. This award-winning independent skincare brand sells via its own website and via the likes of Holland and Barrett and Sainsbury’s. Their products include creams, washes, polishes and oils for the face and body as well as lotions and scrubs. Each is tailored for a particular skin type and customers are encouraged to take an online ‘dosha’ test to find the products best suited to them.
Ayurveda states there are three main body types, known as doshas, these are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These doshas express everything about us from our skin type and physical characteristics, to our health and personality traits.
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The packaging designed by Tanya’s brother Ricky, is bold and beautiful; inspired by the bright colours displayed everywhere in India. Tanya works to bring the products to market and oversees the company’s expansion. The products are made in London.
Tanya added: “We want to be close to the manufacturing to ensure quality. But we’re constantly travelling to India, learning more about Ayurveda and finding new ways to help people’s lives.”
Ayurveda is believed to be the oldest-surviving complete medical system in the world, dating back approximately 5,000 years. Ayurveda embraces medical science, philosophy, psychology, alchemy and spiritual understanding, and is based on the belief that wellness depends on balance between the mind, body and spirit.
The term ‘Ayurveda’ is derived from the Sanskrit ‘ayur’ meaning ‘life’ and ‘veda’ meaning ‘wisdom’.
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