“Ceilán is a perfect example of the butterfly effect – the way in which small, seemingly insignificant events can have a massive impact on the future” (Dr Shelini Surendran)
Siddha medicine is one of the oldest systems of traditional medicine in the world. Its precise origin is unclear but it is believed to date back to 3000 BC and originated in southern India. It is a holistic systemic treatment based on herbs, plants, and minerals and is the inspiration for Ceilán, a British start-up business that produces and sells a sustainable Sri Lankan Skincare range. The company, which is based in London, has adopted Siddha principles and age-old remedies to produce a range of natural skin care products to address various skin concerns. It uses only natural ingredients that are native to Sri Lanka and are produced ethically and sustainably by smallholder Sri Lankan farmers. As a result, the company’s products are sustainable and natural and can be traced back to their origins.
Ceilán was registered as a private limited company in January 2021 by Dr Shelini Surendran, a 29-year-old lecturer in Biosciences at the University of Surrey, and her co-founders Christina Rai (an experienced social media expert) and Pelin Oymaci (a communication design graduate specialising in idea generation and design). While Shelini and Christina had been long-time friends, Shelini met Pelin (from Turkey) by chance. They were participating in a global beauty hackathon that included creating a novel skincare line. They collaborated and their creation achieved second place worldwide. This motivated them to develop the idea further and together they launched Ceilán with Shelini as CEO, Pelin as Creative Director and Designer, and Christina as Head of Brand Communications. They were subsequently joined by Shelini’s brother, Geyan, a former pharmacist with an interest in Sri Lankan botanicals
All three of the founders share a commitment to natural skincare and see themselves as “pioneers of the next generation of natural skincare inspired by generations past”. Shelini herself has been inspired by her ancestors’ knowledge and use of botanicals, while Christina is a powerful advocate for natural, honest, and gentle skincare ingredients and Pelin believes skincare products should make the user feel amazing inside as well as out. As a consequence, their mission is to “create skincare products with maximal organic potency and richness, untainted by chemical additives”. To this end, the seeds from which their ingredients are grown are cultivated naturally, free of herbicides, pesticides, and artificial fertilizers, in a way that harms neither the environment nor wildlife. In addition, the founders have committed to planting native trees in order to ensure the farms are resilient to climate change and optimise water usage, while they have also created The Ceilán Foundation in order to improve the livelihood of the farmers and the wider community. For this, they have introduced community empowerment programmes intended to promote equality and eliminate injustice. Their aim is that all workers should:-
- Work in a clean and safe environment
- Be treated with respect and dignity in a positive working environment
- Have access to training for wider career opportunities
At the same time, in order to further protect the environment, they use glass bottles, rather than plastic, for their products as well as environmentally friendly packaging that can be recycled.
In the May 2022 edition of “Vogue”, they were listed in the magazine’s “Hello to Glow” feature and their products have been well received in the market, a typical review being I love this product, “it has so few ingredients and is all good for your skin! I can’t wait to try more from the range”. In addition to customer acceptance, the venture is being driven by a team of three passionate women who, according to a Surrey University colleague, “ really gets things done”. Together they are creating a profit-making enterprise that protects both the planet and its people. It is a harmonious enterprise in which profit, the planet, and people are in harmony with each other. In total, it addresses 10 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, namely SDGs 3 (Good Health and Well-being), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), 13 (Climate Action), 15 (Life on Land) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
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