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Meet Jivi Founders Nikhil & Nirav

Meet Jivi Founders Nikhal & Nirav

Jivi Founders Nikhil & Nirav

It all started when Nirav developed eczema while a sophomore at NYU. His dad, a molecular biologist, didn’t want Nirav putting a steroid cream on his skin every day, so he started mixing different herbs and aloe juice together in a Vitamix, blending his formal education, and the Ayurvedic medicine he had learned from his mother, Jivi. Within a few years (and many attempts) they found something that worked!

After college, Nirav and Nikhil both worked in healthcare: Nikhil building the business case for value-based healthcare at Cigna, and Nirav doing analytics for a drug safety company. Both saw the risks of chronic conditions, and the drugs used to treat them. So they decided to leave their careers and work together to create safe and chemical-free skin care, building on what they and their dad had learned over the years. They named their company after their grandmother, Jivi.

Here’s a snapshot into the minds of co-founders Nirav and Nikhil below.

What is your morning routine? evening
Nikhil: I start my day with the Eucalyptus Mint Face Wash…both the eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils help wake me up. And that’s pretty much it as far as a routine. I keep a bottle of Moisturizer on my dining table so that I (hopefully) see it when I’m having breakfast and remember to put it on. If I leave the house without the moisturizer, I regret it very quickly, particularly in the winter. Luckily, I work somewhere that always has moisturizer handy so I don’t have to go too long without it! Right now, my go to moisturizer is Strata, which we made in collaboration with an artist up in New Haven, since it’s a bit heavier for the winter and smells so good!

Nirav: I use the Lemongrass Face Wash (since I’ve already woken up with a cup of coffee or two, and I like grassy/woodsy scents), and then the Pine After Shave…even when I don’t shave. It’s a bit thinner than the moisturizers which I like because I’m on the warmer side after a shower. I even run some through my hair…keeps it soft and parted in the right direction throughout the day. And I use the Juniper Eczema Treatment. Most of my eczema is gone now, so I use it mainly for prevention on my palms, neck, and back of my knees. My eyelids started getting dry and flaky up in Boston over the holidays (a new spot for eczema on me, unfortunately), and I’ve been using the cream on it in the morning and evening. Good news: the patches are almost clear and smooth again. Better news: I’m back in NC and won’t have to shovel again this season!

Nikhil: Also, we’re always creating new scents and products, so it has become routine to test something on ourselves (and friends and family). We’re currently working on a shampoo and a body butter, so we’re both using a new version every few days.

What’s your favorite part about running Jivi?
Nirav: Being ridiculous, every day. We spend a lot of time being absurd and coming up with ideas that amuse us. We throw them all on a white board and some eventually end up in stuff we share to amuse you, like the little poems we write, or the “You don’t have to be a” series on Instagram (most should probably have stayed in our heads). The work we’re doing is serious – creating safe and truly natural skin care, at a reasonable price, but that doesn’t mean we have to take ourselves seriously…at all. Working with Nikhil isn’t so bad, either.

What’s a trend in the wellness/beauty industry you’d like to see grow?
Nikhil: A new trend that we’ve noticed, not just in skin care but across many industries, is that companies are engaging more broadly with the world. They are realizing that they can have a positive impact beyond just what they’re selling. For us, this has taken 2 forms so far. The first is our Buy a bottle, Give a meal program, which came out of our experiences working in health care (before Jivi), and seeing the impact of nutrition on long-term health. Whenever you buy from Jivi, we donate a meal per bottle, through a food bank, to a person in YOUR community. That way you get to support local, without having to buy local!

Nirav: We also recently collaborated with a young artist to create Strata (the moisturizer Nikhil mentioned before). She worked with us over a few weeks to create the perfect winter scent, and design the label (she made the monotype print). It was a great experience for us (we’ve already started looking for an artist for a Spring product)! Working with creative people makes Jivi a better company. We’re looking for more ways to engage with the people and communities where we work and sell, and hope other companies continue to do so as well.

What beauty trend would you like to see disappear?
Nirav: One of the biggest trends in beauty today is natural. The push for natural ingredients in skin care is great and will provide individual and public health benefits (it’s why we’re all here). What we’d like to see disappear are the brands that are masquerading as natural but are actually full of chemicals. You know the brands I’m talking about…the posers. They make a big deal out of the few natural ingredients in the product, so they can sell them to us as green beauty, or natural beauty (and charge more). But if you flip the bottle over and look at the full ingredient list it reads like a chemistry textbook. Or they make up terms like “safe synthetics,” under which they hide parabens and all sorts of stuff we wouldn’t want in our bodies. This deceives us into thinking we’ve made a healthy, natural choice when really, what we’d be using isn’t much better than the typical drugstore brand.

Of the products you make, which is your favorite?
Nikhil: My favorite is the Face Wash. It’s a product that’s quite different from the other facial cleansers on the market. I used to have these really ugly patches around my nose – red, oily, with skin flaking off like dandruff. As we developed the face wash, those patches disappeared and now only come back when I forget to bring my bottle when traveling. We use papaya and pineapple enzymes to exfoliate without the abrasive grit that most scrubs use. It’s a gentler way to remove the dead skin cells without damaging the healthy ones underneath. We also use clay and chickpea flour, almost like a mask, to pull out oils and toxins from your skin (the chickpea flour also makes your skin look brighter). In particular I love the eucalyptus mint scent since it’s so bright and energizing…perfect for the mornings when I don’t really want to wake up!

Nirav: My favorite is the Juniper Eczema Treatment…and it’s the reason we started Jivi. I got eczema in college, and was prescribed a cortisone cream. Our dad, who’s a molecular biologist, didn’t want me putting steroids on my body every day. So he started throwing different herbs into a Vitamix with aloe, and sending me jars of his latest concoctions to try. It took a couple years, but my eczema completely cleared up! The cream uses colloidal oatmeal to immediately relieve itchiness, and chamomile and frankincense to sooth inflammation. That was, and still is, my biggest concerns with eczema, since I used to scratch myself while sleeping, making things worse. And it uses karanja oil and St. John’s wort for deep healing. My eczema still comes back occasionally, especially when the air is dry, so I use this cream every morning after showering, and again before bed if there is any itchiness.

What sets Jivi apart from other lines on the market today?
Nikhil: There are a lot of things that go into making skin care products and a skin care company. The ingredients you use, the smell and feel of the products, the price, the way you engage with the community. Often, companies make compromises between these different elements. Most commonly, they will use natural ingredients but then make their product really expensive (there’s no reason for one ounce of moisturizer to be $50, that’s just obnoxious). Or they’ll make their products feel and smell great…by bleaching the ingredients and adding synthetic perfumes. And most companies don’t feel the responsibility of positively engaging with their community. At Jivi, we’re trying to see if we can thoughtfully approach everything we create and do, so that you don’t have to compromise. You get a product with truly natural ingredients, that’s safe enough to eat, at an affordable price, that makes a positive impact on your community. And (ideally) you get a laugh when you open your package from Jivi, or when you find us on instagram!

Serious stuff. Which ingredients do you avoid at all costs?
Nikhil: If it isn’t safe enough to eat, it doesn’t go in our products. We think that’s a much simpler philosophy than making lists of specific ingredients that we don’t include. These days it can be hard to decipher whether a product is natural or not without doing some research (and sometimes, even then). Trying to keep track of what’s on the good list and what’s on the bad list this month is a full time job. We want people to easily recognize that our products are natural, without needing Wikipedia.

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