Naimita Jagasia is a self-taught vegan baker and founder of An Ode to Gaia. She's also a fierce voice who uses her platform to drive important conversations around feminism, veganism and several much-needed subjects. We catch her in between whipping up drool-worthy desserts and activism to talk to her about her journey, skincare and more.
Tell us a bit about your journey - What have been the challenges and the highlights?
It all started when I first moved back to India from the UK after finishing my undergrad in footwear design. I was working on my 100% animal free footwear collection and the lack of sustainable faux leather options was disheartening to say the least. In the meantime I was making plant-based desserts for myself, especially the things I missed the most, like cupcakes, gulab jamuns and cheesecakes.
There was an ahimsa fest potluck, and I decided to take a vegan oreo cheesecake to this event and everybody fell in love with it and started ordering from me. Thats when I realised I wasnt the only person craving vegan versions of our favourite non vegan desserts. I realised this was a way for me to make vegan food not just accessible to all, but do it sustainably, limit waste, use local vendors and most importantly provide alternatives to traditional dairy and egg based desserts without compromising on taste.
The biggest challenge through all this was getting the products out there. I have my existing vegan customers, but my goal is to make non vegans choose An Ode to Gaia over anything else. It has been happening, but at a slow pace. Veganism is definitely scary and has a lot negativity surrounding it, the biggest reason is people are scared of the unknown, and once they know, they embrace it. And I’m working towards being embraced by all.
What were your early steps into skincare like?
From a young age I was always conditioned to use natural/handmade products and I tried to keep that tradition alive. I was never into skincare as much as make up, and in hindsight I wish it were the opposite. I had acne from the time I was 12, so my skincare started to look not so natural. I began using harsh face washes and creams, as I had no education on how to handle my breakouts. I used more makeup to cover it. For as a long as I can remember, I was always using anti acne products which did nothing to heal my skin, and I saw no alternatives.
Over the years, how has your approach to skincare evolved?
My mother always instilled in me the need to use natural products and her sister, my aunt, is into essential oils for skin and healing so I have been exposed to all types of skincare trends. After high school, I moved to the UK, hoping that as an adult I wouldn’t suffer from acne, and I’d magically have clearer skin once I leave polluted Mumbai. Unfortunately, I suffered with severe cystic acne during my early 20s, so I used pretty harsh chemical-laden products to no avail. Once I switched my diet by eliminating all animal products and started using natural skincare again, I was able to get things under control. I stopped using face wash and only used chickpea flour as a face wash, I used oils like jojoba and tamanu as well as rose water to heal my skin. IT WORKED! I cleared my cystic acne and realised the true power of patience, plant-based food and natural skincare.
How was your experience with VAUNT’s products?
VAUNT is unique in so many ways. The beautiful and eco friendly packaging is one thing, but the ingredient list - WOW. I used VAUNT’s brazil nut oil and it made my skin feel tight, smooth and clean. I never thought an oil could make your skin feel like that. Another thing I absolutely love is what VAUNT stands for. Woman empowerment, woman owned, natural, sustainable, vegan, ethically sourced, cruelty free, I could go on. There is no reason to not choose VAUNT. Im looking forward to trying more products that I have been eyeing, such as the Vitamin C Water and Watermelon Face Mist. I cant wait to see new launches.