We meet Anit Hora, the founder of Brooklyn-based apothecary brand Mullein & Sparrow and have a chat about how she followed her dreams and created her own beauty brand, that has made a live changing experience.
IRMA: How did you come up with the idea for Mullein & Sparrow?
ANIT HORA: In 2007, after nearly seven years in the fashion industry, I was feeling quite disconnected and very convinced that there must be something more for me out there. I’ve always been passionate about travel and wildly curious about the world, so I left my career as a knitwear designer at Talbots and took a soul-searching journey backpacking alone throughout South America.
While traveling foreign lands and meeting friends from all over the world, I was reintroduced to the power of plant-based healing and Ayurveda. My parents had actually raised me with this, but I had let it fall to the wayside in the chaos of my city life. When I returned to New York, I studied herbalism, aromatherapy, skincare, and yoga. I became a certified holistic esthetician and herbalist and in 2012, the concept of Mullein & Sparrow was born.
IRMA: Why is a vegan beauty routine so important in times like ours? And how can you transition smoothly into a vegan beauty lifestyle?
ANIT HORA: In modern day life and particularly in cities like New York, we are so caught up in our iPhones, our screens, our day to day hustle, capturing the perfect insta shot, choosing the perfect New Year’s resolution and detox plan, what have you–petty things–that we are so disconnected from the things that truly matter in life: being present, caring for our natural environment, forming genuine relationships with those around us, and perhaps most critical, nurturing a connection with ourselves. And, as we have seen increasingly in the news as of late, this constant state of hyper-disconnection has created a world caught up in hate and violence on so many levels. At Mullein & Sparrow, we like to think we are doing our small part in supporting a cruelty-free world. We are starting from the source, helping ourselves and others re-establish their connections to self by way of beautiful self-care rituals and luxe, all-natural and vegan formulations.
As far as transitioning smoothly into a vegan beauty lifestyle, I encourage people to take small steps. The transition doesn’t have to happen overnight! Start with the basics: your face wash, perhaps. Then your facial serum. Then add in the more elegant items: a facial mask, an exfoliant, a floral facial steam, a blossom oil or bath salt. As you start introducing your new products, notice how your body reacts. Does your skin feel smoother? Is your complexion more balanced? Do you seem more radiant? Have you finally achieved that dewy, natural glow you’ve been coveting for years? The changes may seem subtle at first but will prove significant overtime, I promise!
IRMA: Understanding life as a circle: which ‘things’, regarding vegan beauty keep coming up in almost every culture and what can we learn from them?
ANIT HORA: Ayurveda, a highly esteemed philosophy in many cultures the world over and also the cornerstone of Mullein & Sparrow, is an approach to life, health and wellness that is centred on balance and re-establishing again and again that mind-body-soul connection. It is a practice that highlights using natural remedies such as flowers, herbs, organic salts and essential oils to balance discordant or imbalanced energy in order to heal the body, both superficially and from within.
A spiritual term often tied to Ayurveda and this idea of energy balance is the classical yogi concept of ahimsa; that is, the practice of non-violence toward any person or creature in any way. Gandhi put it nicely when he said, “The whole world is like the human body with its various members. Pain in one member is felt in the whole body.”By extension, beauty products either formulated with animal products or that have been tested on animals carry this energy of cruelty–the animals’ fear and pain and death–within them. Not cool. Not cool at all. Having a vegan beauty regime is so critical because it allows for both the body and spirit to stay untainted by this energy. Only with vegan formulations can the body truly be cleansed and healed, allowing for the skin’s natural beauty and radiance to shine through.
IRMA: When you started your business, what was the hardest obstacle to overcome? And how did you do it?
ANIT HORA: The mental struggle was by far the most challenging obstacle! Making it through all those long, exhausting days in the beginning when I just wasn’t sure all my risks and hard effort would be worth it. To get through this, I would just tell myself that things would be okay. I would think about my grandfather, who was also an entrepreneur and successful business owner, and he thrived in India despite much more difficult circumstances. I looked to my family and friends for support and encouragement, and I just took one day at a time. I repeatedly told myself to keep going, keep going. Giving up was never an option.
IRMA: Which type of plants / remedies should always be available in your household for everyday use?
ANIT HORA: I could list so many things! One absolute necessity is Calendula. I always have Calendula tincture on hand. It’s a cure-all for everything from the first signs of a cold coming on to nasty UTIs. Then two adaptogens I take daily are Ashwagandha (for adrenal support) and turmeric (for its anti-inflammatory properties). Especially this time of year, I also love occasionally indulging with one of our Detox Baths and a hot cup of tulsi tea, for purification, calming and focus.
IRMA: Is there a book you recommend when undergoing a change of life?
ANIT HORA: When I first became interested in herbal medicine, I found this book called The Path of Practice: A Woman’s Guide to Ayurvedic Healing by Maya Tiwari. It was incredibly inspiring and I highly, highly recommend it!