The pa­per's peo­ple

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - People - By SUZANNE LAZAROO star2@thes­

THERE’S a sense of ro­man­ti­cism about it: the witch­ing hour is when Prim­ila Ganash brews her skin-pam­per­ing po­tions in her stu­dio.

Jazz wafts through the room. Out­side the door, three cats and two dogs wait im­pa­tiently for her to fin­ish, just be­fore sun­rise.

The re­al­ity, how­ever, is also more pro­saic.

“It’s just eas­ier to make them then, when the tem­per­a­ture drops and the hu­mid­ity is more sta­ble,” says the founder of hand­made sk­in­care com­pany Love Is.

Known as Philo to her loved ones, she is open of heart and quick to laugh, with a happy, calm­ing en­ergy – it’s not hard to find yourself adopted into her tribe.

Philo’s prod­ucts are made only by her and not tested on an­i­mals – not even those prod­ucts that are for an­i­mals, since Love Is has a ded­i­cated range of pet sk­in­care!

(Love Is prod­ucts are tested only on hu­mans – friends, family and staff. “It’s through them that the busi­ness has grown – I owe them so much,” says Philo).

From El­bow and Nose Balm to Hotspot Cream, the pet range com­bines her love of an­i­mals with her pas­sion for brew­ing up sk­in­care so­lu­tions. A small per­cent­age of each sale goes to the In­de­pen­dent Pet Res­cuers, who res­cue and re­home stray and aban­doned an­i­mals.

Philo and part­ner Paramjit Kaur sup­port good causes wher­ever they can, including KL Pooch Res­cue and the Tanma Fed­er­a­tion, which em­pow­ers Myan­mar women refugees.

“My par­ents got di­vorced when I was eight, and I saw how my mother strug­gled to raise my sis­ter and I,” says Philo. “I re­mem­ber what it was like to be dif­fer­ent, to not have a ‘com­plete’ family, and I’m go­ing to do any­thing I can to help other peo­ple who need it, but might not get much help.”

The pet range was in­spired by Cot­ton, Pam and Philo’s dog, who had very sen­si­tive skin. Cot­ton crossed the rain­bow bridge this year, and is sadly missed. But his legacy lives on in ev­ery tub of the pet range – and in ev­ery res­cued pet helped by Love Is’ do­na­tions.

Philo grew up in Pe­nang, and moved to Kuala Lumpur 15 years ago. She ini­tially worked in project man­age­ment with YTL and CIMB.

“And then I de­vel­oped a lot of skin is­sues, such as eczema,” says Philo. Her vis­its to der­ma­tol­o­gists were too fre­quent for her lik­ing – un­til one visit un­cov­ered the cul­prits be­hind her skin prob­lems: al­ler­gies and stress.

“I was put on med­i­ca­tion, including steroids, and I had to avoid commercial body care prod­ucts,” she says. So in 2014, she con­sulted that global guru – YouTube – and learned to make her own soap.

“But the ingredients weren’t right for our trop­i­cal cli­mate – all that shea and co­coa but­ter, they made ev­ery­thing too heavy and slip­pery.”

She started trav­el­ling to find in­spi­ra­tion and ingredients, to Aus­tralia, In­dia, the Philip­pines, Thai­land and In­done­sia and dis­cov­ered lighter oils, sweet al­mond, rose­hip and jo­joba. Where fra­grances are used, she in­cluded only those cer­ti­fied by the US Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion. A spark of magic il­lu­mi­nated the re­sults, and a fol­low­ing born of the lo­cal bazaar cir­cuit soon grew.

Even more po­tent sor­cery? The mis­takes that turn out to be serendip­ity in dis­guise – like the heal­ing balm, one of Love Is’ best-sell­ers.

“I ac­tu­ally wanted to make a cream – for which you mix oil and water – but I mis­tak­enly mixed only the oils, and it turned into a balm ... and now that balm is very fa­mous, be­cause peo­ple with eczema es­pe­cially come look­ing for it!”

The fol­low­ing for Love Is grew to the point that Philo left her day job last year, and de­voted her­self full-time to sk­in­care sor­cery. Find Love Is in a ded­i­cated re­tail space in Pub­lika’s Art Row.

“It has grown big­ger than I ever imag­ined it would. I think be­cause peo­ple are so much more aware now of what they are us­ing, and they look for nat­u­ral, home-made things,” she says.

The name? It just seemed fit­ting. “Love is at the heart of ev­ery­thing we do, be­cause this busi­ness is about peo­ple and their stories and how they have be­come part of us,” she con­cludes.

pets. — RICKY LAI/The Star

Prim­ila makes be­spoke body care for both hu­mans and

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