June 25, 2024
This is the story of asserting identity, fighting patriarchy and spreading love all this while. This is the story of Vidushi Vijayvergiya- founder of ISAK.

In the enchanting world of fragrances, where each scent carries a unique story, Vidushi Vijayvergiya emerges as a guiding light, ready to reveal the hidden treasures of Indian perfumery. With a lineage steeped in aromatic heritage, Vidushi brings a fresh perspective to the age-old tradition, seamlessly blending family legacy with a modern sensibility. Her journey, from formative years spent amidst her father’s bustling workshops to explorations in the fragrant landscapes of Switzerland and France, stands as a testament to her dedication and profound understanding of the craft. As the visionary founder of ISAK, Vidushi channels her passion and expertise into creating a brand that celebrates the rich tapestry of Indian scents, captivating hearts and senses alike. Join us as we explore Vidushi Vijayvergiya’s extraordinary path, uncovering the essence of ISAK and the unique allure of Indian perfumery.

1. Tell us what inspired you to delve into the world of ISAK and what led to the establishment of ISAK?

It all started with my deep personal interest and family background, rooted in 170 years of fragrance expertise. Growing up surrounded by scents, I spent countless hours in my father’s workshop, absorbing the intricacies of sales and inventory. My journey then led me to the fragrant landscapes of Switzerland and France, where I was captivated by the diversity of perfumes. However, amidst the multitude of brands, I realized the absence of Indian scents, each with its unique personality. This sparked a fire within me to fill the void and showcase the beauty of Indian perfumery to the world. With a wealth of knowledge and expertise passed down through generations, I embarked on the journey to establish ISAK, a brand that celebrates the rich heritage of Indian fragrances.

2. Could you share the unique combinations that set this up about Indian perfumery? 

We’re always mindful of making each fragrance unique, drawing from Indian ingredients while staying attuned to evolving consumer preferences. Just like tastes in food or fashion evolve over time, so do scent preferences. Right now, fresher, citrus notes appeal to younger crowds, while warmer, woodier scents attract older demographics. Despite Indian scents not traditionally featuring citrus or fruity notes, we incorporate them alongside indigenous ingredients. Take Love Song, for example—a hit blend of lemon, apple, and a subtle jasmine twist, defying typical citrus norms. Another project, First Rain, was inspired by the earthy aroma of ‘Mitti ki Khushboo’. Despite doubts, it became a sensation, revealing a deep connection between consumers and nature. It remains a top seller, leading us to expand with more wearable and long-lasting scents like rain kissed roses, lavender rain and forest rain. These experiences, beyond mere data points, show the enduring bond between people and nature, bringing joy to the wearer.

3. As an entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry, how do you conquer any specific challenges or obstacles? And how have you handled them? 

Well, where do I even begin? It all starts within the family. I come from quite a different background. Traditionally, the business world has been a male-dominated arena, and even today, you’ll see that trend persisting. It’s tough being a woman in this field. From being questioned about why I’m involved to not being taken seriously, the challenges are plenty. Starting a business, whether you’re male or female, is no easy feat. But women often face the assumption that they’re just pursuing a hobby, not running a serious enterprise. This misconception comes from vendors, customers, and even family members. However, I chose to keep my head down, focus on delivering, and tune out the noise. After my Shark Tank pitch, though, things started to shift. It resonated with so many women who faced similar struggles. It’s been heartening to see attitudes slowly changing, especially in the more traditional regions like UP, Rajasthan, and Haryana. I’m hopeful that we’re moving towards a future where it’s not just Gupta & Sons but Gupta & Daughters making their mark.

3. As a Shark Tank success story, how has the support from the show impacted the growth and development of ISAK Fragrances?

I can say the journey is easily be divided into pre-Shark Tank and post-Shark Tank eras. Before the show aired, there was skepticism all around. People didn’t really grasp the significance until they saw the ad on TV. For me, personally, it was the first time my family truly validated what I was doing. In terms of business, the response was overwhelming both from India and abroad. Before, customers often questioned the value of Indian perfumery compared to international brands. But after Shark Tank, perceptions shifted drastically. People began to appreciate the nuances and the affordability of Indian fragrances. This shift not only boosted our sales but also sparked a wave of pride in Indian perfumery. It’s been heartening to see more women entering the field, adding their unique creativity. Our business saw a 30X growth almost overnight, leading to inventory shortages and logistical challenges. Despite the chaos, it was a good problem to have. We’ve since streamlined operations, focused on data-driven growth, and fostered collaborations to ensure smoother business operations. The journey has been transformative, and it’s incredible to witness the support both domestically and internationally.

4. With a legacy spanning over 170 years and six generations, how do you ensure that ISAK Fragrances continues to innovate while staying true to its heritage?

That’s something deeply personal for me. It’s where my journey began, and the concept of India-style perfumery holds immense significance. When it comes to our distillation process, we rely heavily on Chandan, a luxury in many parts of the world but deeply ingrained in Indian culture. Additionally, we adhere to traditional extraction methods like Deg bhapka, which lack modern temperature control devices. Instead, our experienced artisans rely on their intuition and inherited knowledge. It’s a connection to our heritage and roots that sets us apart and forms the cornerstone of our unique identity.

5. Can you share a memorable success story or milestone moment in the journey of ISAK fragrances?

You know, the whole idea when we started was to celebrate Indian perfumery and let the world know about it. We still have customers who have been using our products for probably the last four years since we began. We used to sell our products at a store in Delhi, which unfortunately closed during COVID. However, we still maintain those customers who bought from that store, and many of them have become loyal consumers. The best part is, whenever they come to India, they make sure to order from us or ask us to ship products to their hotel. They say, “If I’m in India, I have to carry ISAK with me.” It’s a personal milestone for me, knowing that people from all over the world prioritize our products when they visit India. It’s a testament to our commitment and the belief our customers have in our brand. We celebrate such customers because they understand and appreciate the uniqueness of our products. They are the real connoisseurs for us.

6. What message would you like to convey to women around the world who are pursuing their dreams and breaking barriers in their respective fields?

It’s a very simple thing that, you will be broken, I know you will be shattered with harsh words, especially when it comes from those who are close to you. But always remember you started with believing in yourself and this is what took you forward. So do not stop believing in yourself. Whatever your self-doubts are, they are being brought to your mind from people around you. Keep focusing, keep working towards it. Maybe you will not get your result today, tomorrow, or the day after but there will soon be a day when you will get those results. So you should continue working on your dream. You should not let it go. 

7. Lastly, can you share how the name of the brand came about- the naming of ISAK?

I am so glad you asked this.  So, in the developmental phase, my vision was clear—I wanted it to be deeply rooted in Indian culture, reflecting the essence of my home state, Uttar Pradesh. Emotions played a pivotal role in this journey, recognizing that perfume, an intangible and emotive experience, has the power to evoke feelings and bring a smile. Extending this concept, love emerged as the central theme—a force encompassing various facets of our lives, from relationships to passions and ambitions. Love, in its broadest sense, becomes the driving force—whether for a partner, children, personal pursuits, or the desire to make a positive impact. Also, my connection to Uttar Pradesh, very Vishal Bhardwaj’s translation of “Ishq” into “Isak”, are the things that resonated deeply with us. It’s a very Purabia version. Purabia language is a very local language or Avadhi you can say in the local Lucknow region and Ishaqzaade is one of those words coming up from the UP region and that’s how we decided that yes the brand should be called ISAK.

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