As an international model and fashion influencer with a dedicated social following and a Colombia finance graduate with a resume to be reckoned with, Pritika Swarup knows first hand that we shouldn’t have to chose between one thing and another. Thus, her fledgling beauty brand Prakti fuses many things near and dear to her heart: her Indian heritage and Ayurvedic traditions passed down through her family, a modern outlook on less-is-more skincare, and a commitment to social causes. Here’s where her dreams for an empowering hybrid beauty brand began…and how it’s going.
You’ve been busy! What does an average day look like right now?
Everyday is different for me, so I don’t have a typical schedule. It depends on whether I’m working on Prakti from home (Zoom calls, team meetings etc.), shooting on set, attending events, or traveling for work. I wake up at 6AM for early calls. I start my day with stretching, meditation, and setting an intention. It’s very important for me to have some time to myself in the morning because everything usually comes at me at once when the clock strikes 7AM!
What’s your morning skincare routine like?
I love taking time for my beauty and skincare regimen. In the morning, I use DeviDetox Purifying Face Cleanser, PritiPolish Instant Glow Exfoliator, and then a moisturizer. If I have more time, I use either a detox or hydration mask (depending on what my skin needs) and then I use a cold jade roller all around my face to stimulate blood flow and circulation. My skincare routine is pretty simple, as I’ve learned over the years that less is more. Then I’m ready to start the day!
Tell us everything we need to know about Prakti. How long have you been dreaming of this?
I have been working on Prakti for over two and a half years and we launched just last September. I did significant desk and market research before jumping in. I spoke to hundreds of women about their beauty desires, concerns, and ideals. I saw the opportunity and that was all I needed to commit and bring the brand to life. I created Prakti to bring Indian beauty to the forefront of the global industry and directly into the hands of my generation. Through my exposure to the beauty industry and representing many cosmetic companies, I could not understand why there had never been an India-inspired brand to truly reach global scale. That’s when I identified a white space in the market between traditional Ayurvedic Indian brands and Western ones.
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What was that space?
There was no brand that bridged the gap and had the ability to appeal to global consumers. While many Indian beauty brands to date have been primarily traditional, quiet in nature, lacking product innovation, and seemingly targeted exclusively to an Indian audience, Prakti from the outset was meant to resonate on a global level. Prakti was conceived and developed through various stages. Prakti’s inspiration comes from many of my personal experiences; it is an extension of who I am. To start, I’ve always felt nurtured by every part of my identity—comfortable and proud of my cultural duality; born and raised in America of Indian heritage. I’ve never felt caught between these two identities. That’s how Prakti’s hybrid concept came about. Our global approach combines the cultural richness and spirituality of India and assimilates it with the energy and technologies of the West. This philosophy is encompassed in every part of the brand from the visual imagery to the product formulations, as it is meant to represent my generation of multidimensional, modern women.
We have opened a new category in beauty—I call it Ameri-Vedic Beauty!
Tell us about the ingredients.
Prakti takes Ayurvedic ingredients and Indian remedies and integrates them into modern, luxurious textures. We did not simply repackage traditional Indian/Ayurvedic ingredients in the way that they have been combined and used in the past, but instead created innovative hybrid formulas. I felt compelled to create a brand that is inclusive and offers a true representation of global beauty. I believe that Indian beauty deserves a place at center stage. That said, I’ve approached this goal through a different lens. Prakti is a true representation of who I am, and who we all are—hybrids of mixed cultures, racial heritage, experiences, multidimensionality, goals, and dreams. And thus, our products have been created based on today’s cultural and social reality.
What’s Prakti’s mission?
Prakti goes beyond beauty through its larger mission to inspire women to fearlessly pursue multidimensional, fulfilling lives. I decided to pursue all of my passions including education, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and modeling, and never put any limits on myself. Prakti is an extension of my personal values. I hope to inspire women to never limit themselves and feel like they can achieve all of their passions and nothing can stop them! We reflect our goal to go beyond beauty through our campaigns, illustrations, messaging and social impact programs. Building a strong community to uplift women is important to me. A founding pillar of our philosophy is the importance of creating opportunities and supporting communities especially through our social impact programs which include our partnership with Operation Smile, the Suman Saroj Initiative, and our program to support female artists.
What’s your own beauty/wellness philosophy?
I believe in holistic beauty. My earliest memory of beauty is that beauty comes from within, so beauty cannot only be addressed in a physical sense. Spirituality is so important in beauty because the radiance of your skin comes from within. I have practiced Ayurveda my entire life and feel fortunate to have been brought up with this holistic approach to beauty and wellness. My product philosophy is simple, clean, effective beauty.
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What are some other traditional Indian beauty tips and tricks that you can share?
There’s no shortage of beauty and wellness rituals in India. I have always understood how powerful these rituals and remedies are because I learned everything from the matriarchs in my family and saw the positive results. Beauty rituals in India are sensorial; connecting the mind, body, and soul in one experience. Here are a few of my tips! Meditation during self care brings spirituality to a deeper level: it gives you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits your emotional well-being and your physical well-being. It also helps with developing self-awareness and managing anxiety. Abhyanga is a massage of the body and face with warm Ayurvedic oil for at least 20 minutes before taking a shower/steam. Think smooth flowing strokes; pressing, pulling, circling motions depending on the part of the body. This activates blood circulation and removes dead skin cells and toxins from the body. It also improves skin complexion by increasing blood flow; this really brings out the inner glow! Hair oiling at night can be very powerful. Leave the oil on ’til the morning, and then wash your hair. I like to take warm oil and massage the scalp with small, circular motions to stimulate blood circulation and for the oil to absorb. This strengthens hair-roots, promotes new hair growth, softens, and conditions the hair.
What fashion-related pursuits have you been up to recently?
I am very excited to be designing my first capsule collection with a Milan-based footwear brand I admire very much. We just started the design process, so I can’t wait to share the collection with the world! It has really gotten me to get creative in a new way. I am also working on partnerships with fashion brands that I have aspired to work with since I first started my career in this industry.
You’re passionate about championing discussions on representation in the fashion/beauty industry. What’s making you feel positive that change is being implemented?
I feel representation is becoming increasingly important as brands desire to connect with various audiences. Presently, the industry does not have a singular notion of beauty, but rather is embracing all types. I can see this through brand visuals and messaging. I love this new direction of inclusivity and diversity by the beauty industry.
What can all brands be doing better?
Representation of all races is very important, but I also believe showing diverse personalities and backgrounds is equally so. My hope is to see more positive movement in this area as well. I also believe it is time for brands to transition to a more holistic approach to beauty—not just physical beauty, but championing beauty from the inside out.
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You recently graduated from Columbia. What did you study and how has it helped you pave this path you’re on?
While attending Columbia, various classes piqued my interest in finance, which led to my desire to invest at a greater capacity and major in Financial Economics. I was definitely on the traditional finance path—I launched Praetorian Management, a student investment fund, while I was in my junior year, and even worked as an analyst at an investment firm in New York. My background helped me understand the complexities of running a business; it absolutely allowed me to build a strong foundation to start my own venture. I reached a point when I realized that I must maximize my value and implement a unique strategy combining my experience as an international fashion model with my education in finance. Through Prakti I did just that. I realized I needed to be true to who I am.
You mentioned Operation Smile, tell us why it’s a cause close to your heart. What are you currently working on with the organization?
I got involved with Operation Smile when I was in middle school at the student club. The organization was founded in my hometown in Virginia, so I have had the opportunity to start at a very young age and grow with Operation Smile—it has always been a part of who I am. The mission resonated with me from an early age, and my passion for the cause only grew with time. I understood the challenges that craniofacial conditions create; not just the physical ramifications including difficulty eating, speaking, and breathing, but the emotional and social impacts as well. Young children can be bullied, isolated, and socially neglected, resulting in lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem. The free surgical procedures administered by Operation Smile change the course of the lives of these children. I have had the privilege of seeing our care
transform the lives of children. In my role as Global Ambassador, I represent the organization and raise awareness about cleft conditions through media outlets, conferences, global fundraising initiatives and participation in medical missions across the globe. I am really proud that Prakti is also now an ambassador for Operation Smile which gives us a larger platform to raise awareness and financially support.
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What are your summer plans?
We have many exciting things coming up! We will be launching Path to Priti On-the-Go Essentials at the beginning of summer just in time for all of the travels. I am also thrilled to be building out the Suman Saroj Initiative, our social responsibility program that provides sustainable income opportunities for village craftswomen, giving them a way to use their skills to contribute to their families, and to become financially independent themselves. These talented women create handcrafted, hand embroidered accessory items that complement our skincare offering and highlight the traditional artisanship of the local culture. We started with beautiful vibrant scarves and now are progressing into a more comprehensive accessory pipeline. I will be hosting some exciting events in the Hamptons in June and spending time with my family in Positano. Lastly, I will be going on my third mission trip for Operation Smile in June (either Peru or Guatemala), so I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be on the ground at our mission sites and connect with our patients again.
With such a busy schedule, how do you find time to have fun? What do you like to do?
I have to be really intentional with carving out time to relax and have fun because there are always a million things to do between running Prakti, my modeling schedule, and working with Operation Smile. I love to spend time with my family and friends whether it’s going on long walks, binging Netflix, or going out to dinner.
What fashion brands are you leaning towards right now?
LaQuan Smith, Mannei, Bottega, Ilio Smeraldo, amongst others.
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What’s always in your handbag?
MahaMask Pampering Moisture Treatment Charlotte Tilbury lip pencil and lipstick (Pillow Talk 2 in Medium; the perfect nude for me!).
Tell us a secret that would surprise your 770k+ followers?
I’m a night owl—I love working into the night when things get quiet and I can just focus.
What’s your vibe for 2022 in one word?