As a brand manager at Procter & Gamble, Ami Kulkarni was operating at the highest levels of the consumer products industry. She served as a lead strategist for blockbuster products like Old Spice and Olay, managing everything from packaging to consumer research.
But while Kulkarni was working on the public face of these global products, she was also busy learning everything she could about skin chemistry and cell biology from P&G’s research and development scientists. “I would hang out with the scientists who worked behind the scenes,” Kulkarni says. “I wanted to learn more about why things work, not just what they do.” Eventually, this drive for understanding led Kulkarni to develop her own natural beauty brand, Arkadiance. “Arkadiance is ancient wisdom and modern science,” she explains. “Maybe it’s because as a second-generation Indian immigrant, I have one foot in the Eastern world and one in the Western world. The wisdom comes from thousands of years of experience, but I needed data to support those insights.”
After years of research, Kulkarni began creating her own line of products—facial cleansers, tonics, and moisturizers, and body creams, scrubs, and balms—with natural, neutral substances like shea butter and coconut oil, and without the kinds of processed ingredients commonly found in widely available personal care products.
Since Kulkarni’s products are plant-based, they’re not as shelf-stable as the average face wash or toner that you’d find on grocery store shelves (they last 2-3 years instead of the 3-5 years that other more industrial items can last). “The face cream has none of the petroleum and parabens you see in other products,” Kulkarni says. “We know that petroleum is poisonous to us if consumed, yet we slather it all over our body. Mostly because it’s cheap and it mimics that sense of moisture.”
The product line doesn’t stop with skincare. Kulkarni has also created a line of teas using regionally sourced ingredients.
And in her strongest gesture toward the idea of inside-out wellness, Kulkarni also offers antioxidants, probiotics, and fish oil. True to form, she wanted to understand why people took doses of cod liver oil for decades (before it went out of fashion), and why diets rich in fish are so good for us. “I started searching for the data, and it’s out there,” she says.
According to Kulkarni’s research, Omega-3 fatty acids change the permeability—or defense system—of every cell in your body. “There’s something called the phospholipid bilayer,” Kulkarni explains. “Any good physician would tell you that you want close to 10% in your bilayer. Because of our diets today, we have on average less than 5%.”
Fish oil supplements can help close this gap, and there is clinical evidence to suggest that they can impact inflammatory disorders like eczema and psoriasis. “It’s the hero of the brand,” Kulkarni says of her Omega-3 supplement line.
“I started taking fish oil when I was at P&G,” she says. “I had eczema, and I saw a huge change. I thought If this can be life-altering for me, there must be more too it.”