Women at working at the shampoo-manufacturing unit in Parwanoo. (Express photo)
The number one selling shampoo on Amazon marketplace is being manufactured at a unit in Himachal Pradesh’s Parwanoo town and sources majority of the ingredients and the workforce from the hill state itself. Further, with about 70 per cent of the workforce engaged in the manufacturing process comprising of women, the unit is also sort of scripting a women empowerment story.
Parwanoo’s Kapco International Limited manufactures Wow Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo, a product of Florida and Bengaluru-based company, Fit & Glow Healthcare Private Limited. The apple cider vinegar based shampoo, which the company describes as free from parabens, sulphate, silicons, is currently the number one best selling shampoo both in Indian market place - amazon.in - and United States market place - amazon.com.
Sharing the success story of this shampoo, Kapco International Limited Chief Executive Officer Varun Kapoor said the idea to come up with shampoo was in fact coined by the consumers who used apple cider vinegar, another product of the company.
“Among the uses of the vinegar mentioned on the bottle was that it was good for hair and scalp. There was feedback from the consumers and in the reviews there were suggestion that a dedicated shampoo based on apple cider vinegar should be developed,” said Kapoor, an MBA in Marketing who also looks after the Research and Development in the unit.
“So around three years ago, the apple cider vinegar shampoo was launched and there has been no looking back,” said Kapoor, whose unit once manufactured music discs, then switched over to cassettes manufacturing as quick transformation occurred in music industry. For this unit, however, Kapoor said the turnaround came after the success of Wow products.
“It is very tough to get number one best seller ranking on Amazon with a sea of companies with similar products out there. The ranking is based on a range of parameters, including the reviews of the product and the quantum of sales,” said Kapoor.
As the brand became a huge success and there was big surge in demand prompting more production, and Kapoor went for engaging women workforce in higher numbers. “It is a women-oriented industry basically,” he added.
Part of the unit’s female workforce is a biotechnologist from UP in the quality control team, an ITI diploma holder from Mandi as raw material store in-charge, and a good number of women performing semi-skilled and unskilled operations.
“In the 300-strong workforce, we have around 70 per cent women. And there are women who are performing even highly skilled operations which otherwise are considered the domain of the men,” said Kapoor.
The apple cider vinegar, the main raw ingredient for the shampoo, he said, was being sourced from Himachal only.
On the inaugural day of the Himachal Global Investors’ Meet that was held recently, Amazon India head Amit Agarwal, had referred to the “success story” of Wow shampoo, while pointing out that the company was sourcing 95 per cent of its ingredients from Himachal and that out of 300 Himachalis who were working for manufacturing of the shampoo, 75 per cent were women. Agarwal had said that such success stories can have a ripple effect.
While there are women employees from places like UP, Bihar and Nepal working in Kapco International Limited, majority of them are from Himachal Pradesh. The majority of women are from Purla, the nearby village, told Binita, who is Kapoor’s wife and handles production and planning.
The women who work in the unit have their own stories to tell.
“I am working here for seven months. I had to come for work because my husband was taken seriously ill, rendering him unfit to work. This job has enabled me to spare money which goes into the treatment of my husband,” said Kari Devi, a resident of Bihar, who is employed for air pressure cleaning of bottles before shampoo filling.
Neelam from Sarkaghat in Mandi has an ITI Diploma in Cosmetics and is the raw material store incharge. She has about a dozen employees under her command. “The job has made me confident and financially secure.”
The women in the unit operate high-speed tube filling machines, automatic filling lines and are involved in various other operations including tube coding, label attaching and packaging operations.