Lisa Mattam, two-time McMaster University graduate, never saw herself as someone who would become an entrepreneur. In fact, if you asked her a decade ago if she would ever branch out on her own, she would have said no. But, when she had the opportunity to open up her own consulting firm, she took it. And when she was confronted with a moral dilemma about her skincare routine, she took that opportunity as well.
“I remember the day I came home from work to find my two-year-old daughter slathered in my face cream. After laughing, I began to worry about what all those chemicals were doing to her young skin. That got me thinking.”
Mattam had lost sight of the rituals of her family, originating from Kerala, India and the ancient practices they nurtured for the balance and health of their body and minds. “If I wasn’t comfortable putting them on my daughter, it made me question, then why I am using them on myself?”
Wanting to find products that were organic, natural and plant-based, yet that were trusted in science to keep skin safe and healthy were not plentiful on the market and none contained the rituals of her youth. Mattam set out to create a skincare line that embraced her family’s heritage, yet held the science of the thousand-year old tradition of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is the “science of life,” a 5000-year old system of medicine that was developed in ancient Indian, Mattam notes. Over 80% of the Kerala population practices a form of Ayurveda, either though using plant-based medicine, diet, yoga and meditation to restore health.
“On this journey, I worked with chemists in Canada and Ayurvedic doctors in India to create products that were organic. We were able to develop effective formulations, using traditional remedies to treat modern stresses on skin and hair,” explains Mattam. “Complex practices of Ayurveda were distilled into their essential elements, to better work in a modern context. This innovative blend of science and tradition is the core of Sahajan’s unique approach to holistic beauty.”
Mattam’s hope is that Sahajan becomes a global brand. “I did not leave my MBA thinking I would become an entrepreneur. Even when I began The Mattam Group, entrepreneurship was not a committed series of experiences for me. As with The Mattam Group, I am so proud of Sahajan. It’s amazing to see your own vision come to fruition. Even though the journey looks different than I initially conceived- it’s an amazing one.”
Lisa Mattam, BSc ’97 & MBA ’01 is the founder and managing principal of The Mattam Group. Alongside her work at her consulting company, Mattam has recently launched an organic skincare line, Sahajan. During her MBA, Mattam went on exchange and lived in France and Boston. “I really loved my experience at DeGroote and it delivered on its promise – for workplace placements with co-op, pharmaceutical experience and one of the exchange programs – lived in France and in Boston. It really expanded my thinking both personally and professionally. It served me really well – not knowing what business was all about – and it gave me the best foundation.” In 2009, Profit Magazine ranked Lisa in their Ones to Watch List making her one of the top 10 emerging women entrepreneurs in Canada. In 2011, the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce named Lisa their Entrepreneur of the Year.