Kavita Sahai of coastal Boca Raton meditates at South Inlet Park, which she visits often when she wants to relax. Sahai sells a line of essential oils for wellness and beauty. Tim Stepien /The Coastal Star
By Steve Plunkett
When three children and three adults were fatally shot in March at a school in Tennessee days after a student wounded two school administrators in Colorado, Kavita Sahai was touched.
“I have kids in school, so it just hit home,” said Sahai, who as a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland is sensitive to school shootings.
So Sahai, who markets essential oils as aids to wellness and beauty, reached out to local schools to offer 3,000 roll-ons, with a retail value of $105,000, to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Only the A.D. Henderson University School in Boca Raton responded, and she wound up giving 108 teachers and staff $45 sleep sets. The set, with a spray and cream, contains ylang-ylang, sandalwood and palmarosa oils to encourage peace, quiet the mind and diminish anxiety.
“I really think that mental health and the ability for people to connect to nature is so important. It really helps students, teachers, everyone just kind of bring the temperature down,” she said.
“It used to be that we spent a lot more time in nature, but now we don’t even have real grass, right? It’s like fake grass and turf and concrete,” she said. “I feel like if we could reconnect, that would be ideal. It’s like, can we get them the essence of nature through our lines of essential oils-based products, help them ground again?”
The product line — which includes other roll-on oils to aid breathing, de-stress, detox, focus, ease muscles and relieve headaches, as well as the sleep spray for pillows — incorporates aspects of Sahai’s Indian heritage: “the chakra system, Ayurvedic and yoga principles that have been proven over, you know, many, many lifestyles,” she said.
Sahai and her husband, Ashish, an orthopedic spine surgeon, moved to Boca Raton after she earned her MBA in entrepreneurship at the University of California, Berkeley, and he was finishing a fellowship at Stanford University. She hired on at Sun Capital Partners equity group and he at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital.
But her years in mergers, acquisitions and the private equity sector began to wear on her.
“I started to experience all kinds of non-digestible symptoms, like fatigue, brain fog and agitation and you know. So it’s sort of, I stumbled upon a therapy … and realized that it was connection to nature,” she said. “I went from, you know, finance geek to kind of, you know, holistic medical woman.”
Sahai wound up embracing the idea that your mind controls your skin.
“It’s kind of like when you’re happy, you glow, sort of like a bride on a wedding day. You know, happy people just have this beautiful glow about them,” she said. “I really believe, and science will prove, that if you’re able to calm your mind and kind of release these happy endorphins, your skin will be better and your health will be better.”
The Sahais live on the barrier island and have three children: Inik, 13, Aryana, 11, and Saira, 8. Kavita enjoys music when she wants to get pumped up, but otherwise: “Meditate — I think that’s probably my No. 1 way to sort of relax — or walk on the beach or be in nature,” she said.
She started her year-old business, K Sahai LLC, after spending five years as CEO of Delray Beach-based essential oils marketer 21drops, growing its sales from $400,000 a year to $10 million-plus.
Her husband, she said, has been very supportive throughout her transition away from the financial world.
“When I first got involved, he kind of decided it was amusing because I was never that person. I was not somebody who ate organic at the time,” she said. “I was just working a lot and feeling a lot of symptoms that were, you know, like I said … sort of anxiousness, all of that stuff. All kinds of things.
“And my son at the same time was having a lot of respiratory issues. And when I came across sort of the oil industry … when I started to use it I felt better, like back to my normal self in six months. And he stopped prescription drugs completely within three,” she said.
So, Ashish was convinced, “and he uses all of them,” Sahai said. “I think he thinks there’s a place, right? Obviously there’s a place where he believes he comes in, of course, he’s a surgeon. I’m not going to be able to fix anybody that needs surgery with my oils,” she said.
Sahai is a “big believer” in karma. Important to her business model is giving — she donates 10% of sales to charities that provide such things as 100 daily doses of milk supplements to children in need or 100 days of literacy education for Dalit girls, formerly known as India’s untouchables.
The company’s oils are available at ksahai.com and in select spas. The next big step will occur this month. “We are actually launching in Bloomingdale’s in June,” Sahai said. “We don’t know yet what stores they’re going to put it in, but I’m hoping they’ll put it in Boca.”
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